I’ve decided that my focus for this year is to increase the joy in my life. Last year was more dedicated to clearing out the unneccessary, via minimalism, frugality, essentialism… Whatever you choose to call it. I call it simpler, as in easier and less demanding.
Thank’s to all the clearing out my life is getting more space, both mentally and physically. The process is not done, there are still less necessary things hidden in boxes and cupboards… (And in the garage, since Mr Livslevandes has made that offlimits for my clearing excursions.) But the effect is starting to show. It’s easier to focus, easier to find the things I need when I need them, and our bankaccount is slowly filling up as our house gets leaner.
But life isn’t just about the things that need to be done. Or at least it shouldn’t be! Life should be enjoyable, fun. There will be times of sorrow and hardship, no doubt, but that’s all the more reason to focus on the joyful moments that are in between.
What brings joy to life is, of course, different for everybody to some extent. I have a friend who experiences yarn-happiness. She describes it as an almost ecstatic feeling, the joy of having a new skein to knit into something beautiful and useful. Mr L loves the challenge of trying to make broken machinery work again (part of the reason I’m not allowed to clear out the garage – you never know what parts might be useful somewhere else someday). I’m not in to any of those pleasures, but can experience profound joy in creating a spreadsheet to keep track of something in Excel… Like I said, different pleasures for different people.
But some things are more general, I think. The sensual pleasures, touch, taste, scents. The joy of connecting with people. The joy of being able to help somebody (happiness-research shows that helping others is one of the best ways to be happier). The joy of a good story well told. Listening to music. Connecting with nature. Photography – oh, wait, maybe that’s not for everyone, although it’s one of the things that brings me very much joy.
There is also the joy of a work well done. The joy of keeping the home in order (very much easier when there isn’t to much stuff floating around). The joy of learning new things, of understanding. Of solving a problem (like Mr L’s broken machines). And the joy of creating (which I think is a part of my friends yarn-hapiness, as well as my spreadsheet-joy).
Most of these things are already in my life, to some extent. So what I want to do is build on what’s already there. To focus more on the joyful moments. I want to do more of the things that bring me joy as well, but I need to be careful – due to my fatigue-syndrome I have a tendency to try to do to much, and end up totally exhausted. (And not just “oh, I’m totally exhausted, let’s go out for dinner tonight” but “I’m totally exhausted, I need to just lie here in the bedroom for a couple of hours in the dark, please turn the radio off the chatter feels like torture”-exhausted. Sadly even very pleasant occations, especially if they involve people, can be exhausting like that.) So I need to plan my socialising, make sure I don’t have to much of it in a week. I need the joy of silence and contemplation in between.
And the best part? Most of the things that bring me joy do not involve me buing new stuff, or spending a lot of money. When we meet up with friends for a meal we generally do so at home, ours or theirs. Nature in Sweden is accessible to everyone for free by the Right of Public Access. The sensual pleasures – well, there are many reasons Mr L and I are still happily together after 20+ years… Books and films are free at the local library, and for a small monthly fee I have access to the abundance of stories and information that is the Internet.
I just need to remember to take notice of all these sources of joy – and remember to be grateful for them.