Sometimes I get so excited about something I feel compelled to share it. I might come up with what I consider a brilliant idea for something to write about, or a creative way to approach a client problem, or I might see something that moves me – a bird on a wire, a sumptuous display of food in a café cabinet, a particularly delicious pair of shoes. So much fizziness … and yet I’m beginning to understand the power of keeping the joy to myself … sometimes.
A while back, I was walking down the road and was so overawed by a view of a clear double rainbow, I felt compelled to share it with a couple of passers-by. I suspect they thought I was a bit unhinged. So after not getting the responses I was expecting, I stood there, in awe, on a busy city street and just allowed myself to enjoy the moment.
On another note, because I think and feel it, I frequently tell my Beloved he’s gorgeous and how loved he is. He tells me there’s no need to go on about it! In his head, it’s a case of having heard it enough to assume it will be true unless, or until, I advise him otherwise. Besides, he’s firmly of the belief he’s both loveable and gorgeous! (Oh to be a bloke!)
Allowing myself to ‘en-joy’ (literally “give joy to” myself) by relishing an unexpected treat, a beautiful vista or the feeling of loving someone, is indeed a treat. Keeping it to myself makes it even more delicious because it means I have a secret. And secrets can both delightfully indulgent and really good.
Yet my generous spirit and desire to connect can make me feel compelled to try to share my joy with others. So here’s a couple of obvious truths:
First – what I find joyful is not necessarily the same as what others find joyful. This still baffles me: how is it possible to get excited about gardening or crafting the perfect spreadsheet? Turns out other people have their own thoughts and their own priorities. Who knew?!
Where we find joy is also a deep reflection of who we are, what matters most to us and what we appreciate in the world.
Second – by sharing my joy, I’m implicitly requiring a response from others and most people feel compelled to respond with excitement, even when that’s not what they’re feeling right now. In fact, when I feel the need to interrupt others by sharing my joyful thoughts, it can cut through whatever is happening with them (perhaps experiencing their own little spot of joy).
Kate is wonderful at reminding me to ensure there are moments of joy in every day. My challenge is less about planning for them (although I’m not great at that) and more about appreciating the unanticipated moments of joy that are already present.
When I allow for the possibility, even on the busiest of days, there are often opportunities for joy: the driver that with the flourish of a hand and a smile on their face allows me to merge into a long cue of traffic; mindfully enjoying a fresh new season strawberry; a thoughtful text from a friend. Giving myself permission to pause and ‘en-joy’ these moments without needing to share them is a gift in and of itself.
And you know what? Allowing myself to appreciate the joy in the small things, without sharing it with others, is not a lack of generosity. Lacking in generosity would mean not ‘en-joying’ whatever ‘it’ is. My only responsibility is to pause long enough to it appreciate the moments of joy that are so abundant, when I choose to be open to them.
It doesn’t mean others don’t get the benefit either. It’s obvious when I’m joyful and if they want to know why, I can tell them. Certainly for me, allowing myself to experience joy makes me a nicer person to be around without the need to visit my joy on them … all the time.
Ripenist Reminder: So this is a call to action – notice what brings you joy, appreciate those moments and hug it to yourself like a delicious secret … unless someone asks what’s making you smile, of course, and you feel the desire to share …