What brings you joy?

What are you waiting for? Fill in the blank. I’ll be happy when______.

I’ll be happy when I get the job, or the perfect partner. I’ll be happy when I lose this weight, or finish this next project. A new house, a new car, a bigger bank account; the list goes on and on.

We hear this phrase all the time, as we fall into the cultural trend of trying to get to some illusive destination.

Recently, I heard one dear woman wishing away a joyous celebration event, intended to bring a host of wonderful people together to celebrate. “I’ll be happy when this is all over!”

This statement really caused me to pause and reflect on the human tendency to postpone happiness and joy to some far-off date that never seems to arrive.

It’s an interesting exercise to remember back to when we wanted what we currently have, and consider whether we are any happier now that we have it. Or, have we fallen into that age-old human tendency to set our happiness target on another future date that never seems to arrive?

Recently, I participated in a revealing ‘happiness exercise.’ Through this exercise we were we became aware that happiness is already here, but we often overlook it.

In this exercise, we were asked to share with a partner, over and over, the answer to the question, “what brings you joy?”

This exercise revealed, it is the simple things in life, the everyday, and the ordinary things that offer the greatest joy.

Such things as family time, the joyful laughter of children, the sound of birds singing, and the feel of clean, fresh sheets on the bed were on the expansive list of joyful things. Beautiful music, a breathtaking sunset, the feel of warm sunshine on the skin, and the hug from a loved one were also frequent flyers on the joy list.

What we were drawn to remember is, it’s not the great big things, the huge accomplishments we spend the majority of our focus and life’s energy pursuing that matter the most. It’s the simple things, the everyday and ordinary things, that provide a source for happiness.

This exercise caused me to pause and reflect on the richness of my life. I began to consider potential moments of happiness and joy scattered throughout the day, which often missed in the busyness of living. I’ve taken them for granted.

Often, we don’t know how much something meant to us until it is no longer there.

I learned this lesson a long time ago as a young person.

When I was a teen, my dad, who was bright and chipper in the morning, used to come into my room to wake me up. “Good morning! The day is bright, and the sun is shining! It’s time for all sleepy heads to roll out of bed,” he’d call out.

I’d moan, roll over, just wanting a few more minutes of sleep. His chipper way seemed like an annoyance to my sleepy teen attitude.

When I moved into nurses’ residence, how I longed for that warm, chipper call to the day. I cried every morning for a week as the shrill sound of my alarm blasted from across the room. How I missed my gentle, chipper dad in those moments. I recognized how much happiness his warm morning greeting offered me, if only I’d recognized it at the time.

When I moved back home, I smiled and savoured dad’s morning call, aware of the meaning of his loving alarm.

Our happiness is often found in what we already have, and we miss it when we’re not aware and take it for granted.

The magic of living, the joy of life often surrounds us. We miss out when we’re not awake and aware of those simple, little things that matter the most.

What brings you joy?

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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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