We’ve been stuck in our separate homes for much longer than we expected to be. Some things are reopening and then closing. The uncertainty about what’s next, when things will get back to normal, what normal looks like … is unsettling. 

This is a hard time — I want to acknowledge that before I encourage you to look for joy.

Why is joy even worth talking about right now? News coverage is still grim. We’ve missed out on weddings and graduations. We’ve gone too long without seeing family members we don’t live with. Small yet meaningful interactions like having folks over for dinner or hugging aren’t recommended. 

And as things open up again, we are forced to assess every action we make … Is it allowed? How risky is it for me? Who else does it put at risk? Is the level of risk worth the gain? 

Like you, I feel the losses deeply. I feel the anxiety of uncertainty and decision fatigue about everyday choices. 

Despite what we’ve missed and what we will still miss, I turn to joy to get me through.

Where the Joy Comes In

We need every ounce of resilience to get through day after day. And resilience includes joy. Yes, joy!

Joy is about noticing the good in our lives and pausing just for a moment to take it in. It’s seeing the hummingbird and marveling at its amazing beauty and strength. It’s hearing the cry of the mama hawk as she encourages her baby to fly. It’s watching a Youtube video about squirrels with your kids or pausing to take in the smell of fresh basil.

Joy is feeling the awe of nature or learning to do something new or something hard. It’s pausing to savor the little but meaningful moments that make you smile, wonder, and take notice.

When you think of resilience you may conjure up thoughts like persistence and grit. That’s part of it, but resilience is also much more. Resilience is about coping with adversity, but it is through internalizing positive experiences, like joyful moments, that we build the inner strengths that make us more resilient.

It’s a beautiful cycle—being more resilient helps us be more positive and notice the good, which builds resilience. 

Joy is about focusing on the positive moments of our day even, or especially, during hard and trying times.

Joy calls to us to have a moment of positivity — and then embrace that moment — stay with the feeling and really take it in. The moment can be anything you find positive — a great call with a friend or feeling awe as you stand under a redwood tree or learning how to fix a flat tire on your bike or renewing your spirit with meditation or yoga.

When we stay with the feeling of the joyful moment and take it in, we create a memory of that moment. Later, we use the memory of that moment to lift our spirits when we are down or anxious or feel despair. What joyful moments can you tap into now to help you through these tough times?

How to Find and Use Your Joy

I want to show you how this works. Most months I run a reflection and journaling workshop, Write into Joy. We come together to journal and reflect on one element of resilience in order to help us find joy. It could be reflecting on compassion, creativity, or gratitude.

We’ll focus on nature and awe later this month how these things help us feel more alive and, yes, joyful, even in hard times.

Do you have two hours to learn the power of reflective journaling to build your resilience and find more joy? Join me August 27 when we focus on Nature and Awe. Sign up here and I’ll see you at the end of the month!