Being totally engrossed in the moment is what joy is all about. When you look at the picture of the young girl at the beach, do you see someone who’s stressing over what happened yesterday, or worried about what might happen tomorrow? She is just filled with the exhilaration of a trip to the beach on a wonderful, sunny day! I know — I was there, and I watched her running up and down the beach with pure joy in everything she saw and did!
Kids know how to really be in the moment! Have you ever seen young children happily jumping around in mud puddles? They are completely happy with the excitement of watching the mud and water fly up when they stomp their feet down! They aren’t worried about where the mud is landing, or what their moms might say when they go in covered from head to toe with mud splatters. Come to think of it, they probably aren’t too worried about what will be happening to the kitchen floor as they run across it with big grins on their faces either!
I’m not saying that we should be irresponsible and not think about the consequences of our actions, but I do think that as adults, we take life too seriously much of the time. We need to give ourselves permission to learn to play again. I’m saying “we,” because I certainly fall into this too! My life can get pretty heavy sometimes, and I need to remind myself that it’s OK to take a break from being “a serious adult!” We can go play, and then come back and take up our adult lives again.
I often ask my clients to tell me what they do for fun — how do they play. I go on to say that I’m wondering what they spend time doing that doesn’t have a specific goal or purpose, but is just for joy. I seldom find anyone that can give me even a short list of purposeless activities! As children, I think we all knew how to play. I remember rolling down grassy hills as a kid. I didn’t do it to get to the bottom of the hill. I did it because it was fun!
As the years fly by, we can’t do some of the more physical things we did as children. I somehow can’t quite imagine myself hanging upside down from a monkey bar, like one of my granddaughters loves to do! I can imagine myself going down to the beach, though, and finding just the right spot to stretch out on the warm sand, and listen to the tides going in and out, and hear the chatter of the seagulls. I can imagine going for a walk in the redwoods, where I can see all the freshly unfurled ferns, smell the damp earth from a recent rain, and watch a big, yellow banana slug slowly crossing a path in front of me. I can imagine myself looking out my kitchen window toward our koi pond, just a few feet away, and becoming fascinated by the very slow journey of our rescued turtle, as he crawls up on a rock to sun himself. I can imagine myself sitting down at an outside table at a local coffee shop, with a hot cup of coffee, a blueberry scone, and a good book to read. I could go on and on, but you know what I’m talking about. What are the things you’ve done that feel joyful? How long has it been since you’ve done any of them?
What would it take to put a smile on your face — even for a brief moment? I would love to hear about the ideas you have for feeling joy. If you can’t think of any, find some kids, and just settle in to watch them for a few minutes. They’ll teach you how to celebrate the moment!
Until next time,
* Photo by John Menesez
** Please note: If you’ve seen this blog post before, I apologize for doing it again. When it was first published, there was a problem with the service I use for sending my posts to subscribers. It didn’t go out. I’m re-doing it in the hopes that the problem is solved, and it will reach those with either RSS or email subscriptions. Thank you for taking the time to read this.