Moments of Joy

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The pursuit of perpetual happiness in life is unrealistic. It is the turbulence of life that makes it on reflection worth living.  What really keeps humans ticking along are the moments of JOY. That euphoria of great delight caused by something exceptionally good, even unexpected bursts of happy are quite special.

Such moments are typically ephemeral. Lasting for only a short moment. In what seems like just a blink they are gone, often never repeated. They can be big or small moments, and may not be all happy, but they are full of JOY. A gasp, a moment, often locked into the mind forevermore.

As we head towards Christmas, it is the moments of joy we search to build and remember. Those with family, friends and others.

“My moment of joy is whenever I make someone else laugh. I mean a real, spontaneous belly laugh. Whenever I can do this, my day is made and my heart is warm.” 

Thanks Lauren

We all find our moments of joy differently, but consistently they come from family, loved ones and new experiences, often the simple things.  Being in the moment and doing what gives meaning. Be this doing the dishes to adrenaline pursuits, yet critically embracing the moment.

“Any time with my family or my dogs brings moments of joy.”

Thanks Beck

Moments of  joy are typically personal. Politicians typically bring more anxiety and confusion than joy. Businesses can be so focused on the user experience that they make it so slick it is boring, robotic and anything but joy. Questionable trust levels in business and government are not joy (More >).

Earlier this year Cadbury axed its ‘joy’ brand platform, six years into its 10 year strategy, replacing it with ‘kindness.’ The Joy campaign did not have the success Cadbury had envisaged (More >). The ads were certainly joyful, but perhaps it isn’t enough to build sales. Fake joy may be viewed skeptically by consumers with low levels of trust. How can a shareholder or voter driven enterprise genuinely deliver joy? Likely joy is more so personal than motivation to purchase one brand over another.

Joy can come from the serious to the stupid. The hard and seemingly unrelenting work we do to produce an outcome that makes us proud and joyful. To a silly moment, even ridiculous, full of whimsy and laughter. In a world of serious, it is nice to be overwhelmed with unexpected joy.

Flicking through the photos on one’s phone are likely to remind of moments of joy, recently and long ago. Time with friends, family, selfies and memories. The places you have seen and beautiful landscapes and  scenes. The photos make the special moments stretch longer. Facebook memories of this day last year or many years ago can be quite special.

When you reflect back, typically it is the moments that culminate into the mind as a good or not so year. The moments of joy are the carousel of our life, that illustrate the moments, and another, and another. The things we have done, places have gone and people we share our life with.

Life is a funny thing. We try to plan it, and project it, but it is typically rejoiced looking back. We all know life moves, yet it is easy to forget. Too often the moments of joy and otherwise are missed at the time. 

“There was nothing better than seeing the look on my grandparents face after I cooked them a dish that reminded them of how it would have tasted back in their homeland. That look of pure joy and content as their memories flooded back, which was then followed by the look of immense pride followed by a huge smile filled with love. The feeling of making someone else so happy makes me feel like a better person. Amazing feeling!” 

Thanks Adam

Moments often have less meaning in the now than the past. Those seemingly boring moments at the time, are actually quite special on reflection. “Look how young we look!” Be this spending a bit of quiet time with a loved one, or a moment with friends. It is easy to be too busy propelling ourselves forward that we fail to embrace what we are living. Forgetting that where we are heading is to be able to look back having a lived a life worth living. Creating the dots, the moments, that on reflection create a life worth remembering. 

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Steve Jobs

The thing is life does move, and we all get older. One phase of life is replaced with another, and then another, and another. Moments and people come and go. Life moves pretty fast.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”

Ferris Bueller

Children are a great reminder of how fast life can move. For me, my special moments of joy include time with my two daughters. When I’m at home at night, it is nice to be regimented to tuck in time. Over the years this has slowly morphed from one carefully structured bed time ritual to another, to increasingly a quick tuck in and kiss on the cheek.  Embracing the changing moments is critical. Time moves fast when you look back.

There is nothing sadder than living life in a blur, with photos the only memory. Research I have directed over the years with people aged 60+ often recount a sense of freedom, yet an awakening of time wasted worrying and rushing, and not always living in the moment. Life can be complicated,  but it is ever important to pause and be mindful.

In recent years, mindfulness has become popular as people place their mental and emotional well-being as a high priority. Mindfulness is about living in the moment, rather than a mind full of chaos and confusion.

Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s process attention to experiences occurring in the present moment. Not jumping erratically from one thing to the next like a schizophrenic squirrel that is becoming increasingly the the default in our digital, always on multitasking, chaotic world. 

Many people find mindfulness and living in the moment through meditation, hence the strong growth in meditation apps available and growing revenue for platforms such as Calm (More >). Sales of ‘dumbphones’ (i.e. those that are not smart like an iPhone / Android / Google phone) are also growing, especially in places such as silicon Valley, acutely aware of the dangers and distraction (More >). Living in the moment, and taking notice seems simple, but it is too easy to forget. 

Life isn’t all about always happy, it can be tricky, but the moments of joy bring meaning and purpose that make all the challenge and complexity worthwhile.  Rather than ever focusing on ‘what next?’ mindfully focus on ‘what now?’ as often as possible.  Research illustrates that people who live in the moment are happier (More >).

So, what are your moments of joy? What value do you place on them psychologically and even financially? Likely you undervalue such moments, until they are gone and realised to be priceless.

What role do our governments and businesses have in supporting our moments of joy? Perhaps they can ensure they get the serious bits done right as the basics. Then factor in a focus on joyful innovation. The unexpected whimsy or signs of gratitude that produce euphoria of great delight and make life worth living.