What Brings You Joy?

Over the winter holidays we were visiting a friend in Santa Fe, NM. When we arrived at her house, she presented us with a gift – a Nambe holiday ornament depicting the word “Joy.” As she handed it to us, she said, “We need to find more joy in our lives this year!”  Her words were particularly powerful to me, not because of the contentious election season we’d experienced and the divisiveness in the country, but because she’s a physician and she understands the very positive effect that joy has on our mental and physical wellbeing. 

Last week, Barbara and I attended a rehearsal of the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.  Just being there – this magnificent, elegant, national crown jewel dedicated to the performing arts – brings me joy. Being able to go there during the day in the relaxed atmosphere of a rehearsal – the orchestra and conductor in casual dress – is priceless. All this joy, before the rehearsal even begins. 

We were treated to a number of performances lead by conductor Gustavo Gimeno.  Even though it was a rehearsal, it sounded flawless. Watching both the conductor and the musicians, I couldn’t help but think of the energy and passion they brought to their work. It reminded me of a speaker I’d heard who said that musicians manipulated melodies to create emotions. It was evident that these musicians were feeling join in the music they were making and sharing with the audience. 

Observing talented musicians so enjoying their work reminded me of how important it is for everyone to find joy in their work.  How wonderful it would be if we could all find this same level of joy in our work all the time, but there isn’t a job anywhere that is that perfect. Being self-employed for years has been a wonderful experience, but it’s not without its stressful moments. How disheartening it is to hear people say “it’s just a job” or “I work for the pay” or worse, “I work with a bunch of lunatics!”  Yes, work is work and we all work to get paid, but as I heard a speaker once say, in reference to the workplace, “If the horse is dead, it’s time to get off!”  How wonderful it is when we find joy in the work we do! 

Not everyone has the talent to make beautiful music like the National Symphony Orchestra does. Some people, like our favorite cashier in our regular Tuesday meeting place, works at a repetitive job. However, she finds joy by smiling at everyone and engaging people in conversation. She makes everyone feel special because she greets you like a friend. She gets her joy by bringing joy to everyone else. 

Since that conversation last December with my friend, I vowed then and there to find something to be joyful about every day in 2017. I’ve certainly found joy in my writing – which is not free from stress – because it’s creative and rewarding.  I take the time every day to reflect on something that I’m grateful for. And I keep that ornament prominently displayed in my office so it’s a constant reminder to find joy every day.

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