Step out of the chatter of your mind and orient to the joy that surrounds you.
The human brain has a unique capacity to put things into perspective. We can look back, learn from our mistakes, anticipate problems and solve them using imagination. However, these abilities also feed the anxious mind, resuffering past struggles and presuffering feared futures. In the words of Dr. Martin Seligman, father of the Positive Psychology movement, “We aren’t built to live in the moment.”
Still, we have a sensory body that enables us to return to the present moment and connect with joy. In her TED Talk “Where Joy Hides and How to Find It,” designer Ingrid Fetell Lee points out visual delights all around us – we just need to watch for them.
After reading Lee’s book, Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness, I’ve been on a treasure hunt, looking for the aesthetics of joy. Bold colors and light patterns brighten my day; swaying treetops and dramatic clouds draw my focus upwards; playful design elements make me smile. This game of #joyspotting has reoriented me to savor my surroundings.
Take a moment to pause and look around you. Find something that engages your senses. It could be a vase of flowers, the mug of coffee you’re holding, the view outside through your window. Consider each of your senses: what do you hear, see, smell, feel and taste?
Orient to the sights, sounds, smells, textures and tastes that bring you joy and calm. Create a treasure chest of items that soothe and delight you. You might include listening to a favorite song or nature sound, cuddling with your pet or watching the flicker of a flame.
You can experience a brighter world by bringing your mind’s attention to joyful and soothing sensory experiences. It turns out that the path to happiness isn’t just internal – orient to your senses and connect with the joy all around you.