My father loved to take us on picnics when we were kids.
He would pile us into the car with a cooler full of hot dogs and hamburgers, a portable charcoal grill, and a transitor radio and drive east of Queens to Sunken Meadow Park for a barbecue. For my mother it was work but for my father it was something that brought him great joy and because his joy was always so infectious, it brought joy to my brother and I as well.
One Saturday our plans got rained out.
That might have gotten in the way of another’s joy, but that was not the kind of person my father was. He looked at a derailment and worked with it. Just because things hadn’t gone according to plan did not mean he couldn’t access his joy. That particular day, my father laid out the picnic blanket in the living room, grilled our hot dogs in the kitchen and by relocating our outing indoors showed us how working with what is in front of you can still bring you joy.
I’m pretty much my father’s daughter when it comes to this approach to life.
But I admit that 2016 has proved testing in that regard. As we are about to usher in a new presidency in a world that seems as unstabilized as I remember it in my lifetime, joy is something I have been finding harder to access. Which is why I am choosing JOY as my word for 2017. If you believe as I do, that what you put your attention on will grow, then I would like to put my attention on JOY.
That does not mean I will be going about my business with my head in the sand.
It does not mean I will ignore politics and local and world events. It doesn’t mean I will be living in a self-created joy bubble that is oblivious to circumstance. It does not mean I will not speak up for what I believe in whether that is in writing a blog, calling my congressperson, marching in a protest or calling out someone spreading fake news on Facebook.
It means I will look for the balance.
I will not get swallowed up in the anger and the hate that so many seem to want to wallow in. I will seek the moments that bring me joy, whether that is cooking up a new recipe, sipping wine with a good friend, binging on Grace and Frankie on Netflix or just remembering to keep my eyes peeled for that exact moment when the first bud appears on the bare winter trees and I am reminded that spring always returns.
It also means I will acknowledge these moments.
I will experiment with keeping a JOY JAR in easy reach and each day writing down the one thing that brought me genuine joy so I do more of what brings me joy and less of what does not.
There are alot of words I could choose for this year, but for me JOY feels right.
The more joyful I am, the more the path opens for everything else I’d like to see manifest in 2017. Joy allows me to be me which is the best antidote I have in this contentious time. It uplifts me and infuses me with the positive energy I need to be a force of change in such a volatile world. It will refuel me – especially in those moments when it seems everything around me wants to rob me of that joy.
Like most things, in order for this to work will require discipline.
A simple scroll through a Twitter or Facebook feed these days can suck the joy out of the best of us. So they will all be put on timers as will traditional media. I’ll also be keeping a copy of my friend Agapi’s new book, Wake Up to the Joy of You close by as well as my JOY JAR which for the record now includes it’s first entry – writing blogs.