Operation “Squeeze the Joy”!!!

Seek The Joy

“Seek the Joy”

I read the bumper sticker on the car in front of me with mingled annoyance and longing. I’d love to go out and “seek the joy”, I thought, but some of us have responsibilities and can’t just spend all of our time playing. Harrumph. We have errands to run. Toilet paper to buy and such. Growl, grumpy growl. You know, work to do. And work, by definition, isn’t supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be work. So there. {Insert juvenile tongue-sticking-out here}

 

Or not.

 

While I have a bit of irritation with such buzz-phrases as “seek the joy” and “follow your passion” {I mean, c’mon…yeah, yeah, yeah, but what does that MEAN??}, admittedly, there can be a nugget of good sense and applicability tucked into the cliche. Maybe there really is a bit more joy, a touch more fun, to be sought in the mundane realities of day-to-day living.

Dan Harris released his book 10% Happier  earlier this year. While I haven’t read it and in this case am not referring to meditation practice, the title, the idea, of being 10% happier really struck me. What if I could infuse just a tiny bit, any percentage at all, more happiness into my life by simply looking for small, incremental shifts in how I do things? What if I spent the $3 and five minutes it takes to buy a Starbucks latte when it comes time to do errands? I know this isn’t much to most people, but stopping for coffee first sort of turns “errand-running” into “jaunt around town”…something about that warm “cuppa” really feels like a huge treat to me and if I decide to begin with that, I find myself actually looking forward to errands! And every single day, some portion of my workday either doesn’t require a computer at all or simply requires word processing and a precise view of color calibration isn’t necessary. What if, instead of going through the usual motions and doing them at my desk, I grouped those tasks and did them outside? What if I even grouped them into things to be done on the deck and things to be done at the beach?  I live in coastal Maine for crying out loud…there is simply NOWHERE better in the summer and I am a five minute drive from our local beach.

So “Operation: Squeeze the Joy” has been declared and is officially underway.

No more going through the motions. No task left unquestioned. How can we squeeze a little more fun into this? House cleaning? Turn the music up first, even if it’s just a 10 minute sweep and dishes. Walking Tess? We do it together and take the time to hold hands, point out the neighborhood peonies, and growing gardens, and fresh coats of paint. An unexpected Saturday off? No more catching up on laundry or mindlessly checking off the to-do list…pull out the map, look for a state park or a mountain or a whitewater river and jump in the car and head toward it.

Campfires beat out television any day of the week.

There is something in this that is simple mindfulness, basic “awakeness”- an awareness of what is at hand and a slowing down long enough to notice, to ask ourselves if it can be better, more joyful, more engaging, more rewarding, more compassionate, no matter how menial. There is something to the old Gretchen Rubin quote, “The days are long, but the years are short” that is just plain ol’ true…the days slip away and it’s so easy for one to blur into the next until years have gone by, a lifetime has gone by. I want to pause and notice where I can, to make real effort in that direction every single day. But I know that some days will just fly, just blur because I am merely human. I want that blur to be a happy one, a contented one, a meaningful one.

I think that begins with Operation: Squeeze the Joy.

 

Join me, won’t you? How do you squeeze more fun into your day to day? I can use all the help and suggestions you have, so please share!

 

 

 

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  • JustinJune 27, 2014 - 2:33 pm

    Great post! Similar to your errand running with coffee in tow, a Frosty’s donut always brings a smile to my face if I have to run downtown for something. That $1 spent feels like a mini-vacation in my mouth. As much as I hate to admit it, having comfortable outdoor furniture has made our backyard a haven to just sit… and watch the chipmunks rule the holz hausen.ReplyCancel

  • CindyJune 27, 2014 - 5:51 am

    Thanks so much, John! I love everything I’ve read by Thich Nhat Hanh- I’ll have to check this one out!! I appreciate your comment!ReplyCancel

  • John ManganelloJune 26, 2014 - 9:16 pm

    Great post! Important stuff, for sure! Check out the book “The Miracle of Mindfulness,” by Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh…you’ll like it and it’s an easy weekend read. To quote, “Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the whole earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life. Don’t be attached to the future.” I’m finding the importance of being mindful and in the moment, especially with young kiddos, makes all the difference in the world.ReplyCancel

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