I’m back with a little more “joy” talk today. I’m thinking more on the topic as the holidays are here and this time of year isn’t joyous for everyone. And now here we are attempting to find ways to celebrate in the midst of a pandemic. That’s definitely a big fat joy kill.
One of the things that helps boost my own bit of joy is to simply give some away – every day. Giving away your joy is the best way to keep you joyful. We often learn the most beautiful and powerful lessons from children. I learned one a few years back from the Third Son.
There was a time when my mom was sick and in and out of hospitals. This meant that I was also in and out of those hospitals to be with her. Sometimes I made day trips and other times I would be gone overnight so would miss the boys and their normal nightly routines. During one of these times I made it back home in time for bedtime. I was tucking our youngest son in bed about to listen to his prayers when he asked if Diddy (their name for my mother) had had a good day. I told him she had had a very good day. He nodded his head and in his little boy voice said a very serious “good”. Then he went on to explain that every night he prays that he will have a good day on the following day. He said that on the previous night his prayer was that Diddy would have his good day. He had, in effect, given away his own good day. I’m not sure he even remembers this but I think of it often. I believe there is real joy in giving a good day to another.
Tim Ferriss touches on this a little in his book, Tools of Titans. In the book one of the people he shares about is Chade-Meng Tan. Meng has a ten second exercise that he uses in many of his public talks. It is very simple. He tells the audience to identify two people in the room and just think, “I wish for this person to be happy and I wish for that person to be happy.” That’s it. Nothing more. Meng says that everyone emerges from the exercise smiling and is happier than they were 10 seconds before. Being the giver of a kind thought is rewarding in and of itself. He also used this exercise and assigned it as homework to a group, telling them to do the ten-second exercise the next day at work once an hour, every hour, randomly identifying two people walking past their office and just think, “I wish for you to be happy”. Apparently, the following day Meng received an email from a woman who had been completely miserable in her job. She wrote that she had done the homework and on that day had her happiest day in seven years! That’s powerful.
Every morning during my quiet time I say a little prayer for each of my boys. Among other things I may pray about, I always pray that they each have a good day. I started this practice pretty hard a few years ago when they were each going through some hard times. I know that sometimes just having a good day can be the gift you need.
I’m sure they have no idea I do this (and they don’t read my posts so no danger even now) and I know this isn’t a guard to keep bad things from coming their way. But, what if it does give each a little shield each day? What if they do get a little boost? As mothers or fathers or as just people who love and care for others, we want good things for those we love. Sharing some of our good days or even just offering that wish boosts our own bit of joy, making us happier people.
I have to believe giving away joy helps keep my own little part of this world moving forward in a good way.