I've been thinking about joy a lot lately.
How to find joy in work. How to feel joy in exercise. How to experience joy in quite. How to find joy in large groups.
My work is a little crazy. Professionally, I'm a private investigator. I work with defense attorneys who represent citizens accused of horrible crimes. It's not a space in which one might expect to find much joy. There's constant arguing, deadlines, and the adversarial nature of the system in which we function. And yet - we all find moments of joy. When the jury comes back after two hours and says, "Not Guilty." That's certainly a joyful thing. But the day to day can lend itself to a dearth of joyful moments.
I find small moments of joy in connections forged with witnesses. I find small moments of joy in the simple fact that the work has meaning. I find small moments of joy in little victories. It's a constant struggle, but I do try.
Entrepreneurially, I'm a co-founder of a small tech start-up. We offer continuing education for professionals. The topics are sometimes dry, which might lead one to miss the moments of joy.
When I focus on StoryboardEMP, the start-up my partner and I founded, I find joy in many places. The creativity of making high production value content. The feedback from happy clients - who are used to being force-fed a diet of required education - when they take one of our courses and find it a refreshing change in tone and quality. I find an unmitigated sense of joy when we work together as a team.
Exercise - be it physical, mental, or spiritual - brings me many opportunities to feel joy. The yoga practice, which has become a part of my daily routine, is always a place of joy. Even on the days when I struggle to find the time - once I do, I feel so much better. Mental exercise, reading and studying, offer another type of joy, one that's equally difficult at times and equally rewarding.
Spiritually, I find joy in countless places. A brief twenty minute meditation ushers in a calm, joyful feeling (almost) every time. Quiet is not a state that I find easy. I struggle with racing thoughts and whirling ideas. But taking the time to sit and be quiet is priceless and necessary. It's taken me more than 40 years to learn this. I'm still working.
More now than ever, I find large groups to be the most difficult place to locate joy. And yet - I find it. I find it in the side-bar conversation with an old friend, whom I've not seen in a long time. I find it in the continued conversation with the friend I had coffee with yesterday morning, the one who was also invited to the party, the one I see several times a month. I find it in groups of friends standing around a counter sharing wine and stories.
Last night, I took in a huge dose of joy when my friends, the people who are in and around my life on a regular basis, broke into a series of carols.
We live in Nashville and the talent pool is deep with complex harmonies.
I still have a difficult time with finding joy. I'm getting better at recognizing it. I'll keep looking.