My family and I recently experienced a most joyful evening, as my artist husband celebrated his first-in-a-long-time opening of an exhibit of his newest work.
A couple hundred friends and acquaintances showed up at the reception at the Art League of Hilton Head to wish him well, enjoy some refreshments and check out his new work. And a couple dozen of those purchased a piece of his art!
It was quite a fun event. The overwhelming show of support was humbling, to say the least. And the euphoria lasted well into the night, as we recounted various conversations, hugs and surprise visitors.
The next evening, relaxing at home, I happened to rediscover on a side table at home a little box of tiny cards, packaged together as reminders and encouragement, titled "The Little Box of Simple Joys." I opened it and began to shuffle through the cards.
The suggestions therein reminded me of the simple joys we had experienced the night before, and it occurred to me how easy it is to feel joy at a happy occasion, but how difficult it sometimes is to find joy when things aren't so great.
So, while I hope that all your days are already happy, I wanted to share some of those suggestions for finding simple joys.
The first one that struck me as really odd but fun was this: "Throw away all your old socks and replace them with brand new ones. Why do we spend tens of thousands of dollars to replace a car every four years but hold onto a $5 pair of socks for seemingly twice as long?"
Good question, isn't it? So, the next free Saturday I have, I'm going sock shopping.
Here are a couple more:
"Begin a new habit today - a good habit. Stick with it and watch how it changes you for the better."
"Instead of accomplishing something on your 'to-do' list, permanently remove something from that list. Lighten your load just a tad by letting it go - forever."
"Take long pauses in your pursuit of happiness and just be happy."
It seems about half the cards suggested doing something for others, from thanking military veterans for their service (especially on days other than Veterans Day) to buying anything a child is selling.
Here's a sampling:
"Say something to make three people really happy today."
"The next time you're feeling down, do something to cheer up someone else. In the process, two people will feel better."
"Celebrate 'Gift Week.' Each day of the week, give a small, inexpensive gift to someone in your life who deserves a little special recognition. Be sure to choose a different person each day."
As a writer, I was struck by one card in particular, and I think I might have to adopt the suggestion as a regular practice: "Buy or make an autograph book and collect the signatures of 'ordinary' people. Ask them to think of something unusual they have done in their lives and to write the accomplishment under their names. The people you ask to contribute will be thrilled."
I think I'll get started on this one right away, so be prepared if I approach you with a little blank book.
What about you? How do you find joy? What's your favorite way to pursue happiness? Feel free to share your wisdom with us for a future column. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.