Ever experience a time when you’re doing something and you realize you’ve forgotten about time all together? Have you found you have a smile on your face that’s been there for a while now and you are just totally enthralled in what you are doing?  That’s how I define ‘joy’.  Most people think of ‘joy’ as that feeling when couples get married or when a baby is born and I would agree with that, but those are very unique peek joy events that just blow your perceptions of happiness out of the water.  I believe that there are also daily bouts of joy that we can experience beyond the culmination of 9 months of gestation or that require us to spend huge amounts of money and stress…and cake. Don’t forget the cake.

Joy can happen in the most unexpected places.  I find joy hiking in the hills above the city.  I get a huge grin being on historical trails among old growth trees with amazing views around me.  I’m crazy, I know.  Sue me.  Others get this feeling from performing with a responsive audience or working with children or creating art or driving fast or whatever else you can think of.  As long as it’s causing no harm, it’s a win to feel joy in your heart as in that moment you are being your true and authentic self both internally and with the outside world.

But how to know what will bring you joy.  It’s not always clear for people what that is.  Partly because as we change our joy activity can and will change.  What we enjoyed at one year may not be what we enjoy today.   Joy might be less linked to hitting your brother over the head with the Tonka truck, having a clean diaper, sucking on your thumb and more on having a great time with good friends, getting a bonus at work, being able to travel to somewhere you’ve always wanted to go.  Although I have to say, there are times when the Tonka truck thing still passes through my mind and I realize I probably would get some joy out of it.  My inner child has issues.

So how to know what will bring you joy?  Follow your heart. Try things.  Pay attention to what you are distracted by – pictures of far away lands, ads for classes or group activities, a type of art you’ve always wanted to try, your friend asking you the 100th time to go do something you’ve never tried before.  If you have always wanted to , there’s no time like the present.  Tell your heart that you’re willing to listen and act if it tells you what it wants, then see what happens.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly opportunities show up and at how often you start smiling.