Joy isn’t difficult, but it takes some effort to keep it present in our lives. Like tending a fire, we need to tend joy. To burn, fires need heat, fuel and oxygen. They call it “the fire triangle.” The joy triangle? Intention, sensory input and biochemistry.
For someone, like me, who is living with a chronic health and disability challenge, that’s good news. The joy triangle is completely accessible.
If we want joy in our lives, we must make it a priority.
I begin every morning with the mental reminder to “choose joy.” I was thinking this morning that I need to increase the frequency of this reminder. I have a piece of software on my computer that reminds me to drink water and stretch every 20 minutes. I can tweak the text so that it reminds me to smile and laugh as well. I don’t have to have any reason other than wanting it so.
Like most good things, there’s an app for that. Lists of happiness-related apps are only a Google away.
Sensory input +
As I’ve been gathering resources for my Begin in Beauty email course, I’ve been feeling joy. That’s because I’ve been focusing on what I find beautiful – using eyes, ears, nose, taste buds and fingers to experience the world.
Here’s the interesting bit for folks like me who can’t (or won’t) bungee jump: our imagination can bring us joy. Putting together the course, I haven’t really been experiencing all those lovely sights and sounds. I’ve only been writing about them. But mounting research shows that imagining something involves the same brain chemistry as actually living it. Reading about coffee or lavender, the smell-receptive parts of our brain light up in an fMRI. Thinking about exercising a muscle can make it strong.
We can imagine ourselves happier.
Once we point our attitudes, bodies or brains in the right direction, biochemistry kicks in to take us the rest of the way. Soaking up natural beauty, eating a wonderful meal, imagining a lovely smell… The hormones and neurotransmitters that make us feel happy come to our aid.
Intention + sensory input + biochemistry = joy
Decide and remind yourself that joy is a priority. Put yourself in situations where you experience life (or imagine experiencing life) vividly. Sit back and let your brain chemistry do the rest.
Tend the flame. Keep the fires of joy burning.