1. Play dead
I know this may feel counterintuitive, but the first way I practice joy is to remind myself every morning that I am going to die and everyone I love will die. When I consciously remember that my days are limited and that at any moment I could lose someone I love, I bring more attention to what a gift life is.
When my son walks out the door to go to school in the morning, I look him in the eye, I tell him I love him, I give him a big hug. When I have lunch plans with a friend I remind myself on my way how much I love this friend and how important THIS lunch is — right here; right now.
Thinking of death doesn’t have to be morbid; it can be a reminder of how much we love and who we want to be while we’re here. Otherwise, it is way too easy to think we have all the time in the world.
2. Treasure hunt the hidden gems.
Bill Cunningham said, “Those who seek beauty are sure to find it.” I think he's right. This is what I do: I go on a 10 minute walk to the post office and consciously ask: what is beautiful? I might see an elderly couple walking hand in hand. I might see a tiny red flower poking up through the cement. I might see a child's chalk drawing of a happy sun. I might hear someone laugh across the street. Seeking beauty is one of the quickest routes to celebration. (And if you're on the way to the post office it is a two-fer 'cuz you also get your errand done!)
3. Create extraordinary moments.
One of the best things I ever learned was how to frame a moment. It is simple and can turn any single moment into something that feels cinematic. Here's all you do:
- Get here.
- Be present.
- Consciously know that you are alive and that want to feel extraordinary.
- Look someone in the eye.
- Listen closely. Take a risk and share something vulnerable and real.
- Make someone laugh.
- Reach out to a stranger, even if you're scared.
- Look at the stars and repeat a line from a poem to yourself.
- Pretend like you're drawing a frame with your hands and see what is inside that space and in that moment.
- Surprise someone with a phone call, a note, a flower, a kiss.
- Say out loud to someone, "I love being here with you right now."
It is so incredibly easy to create an extraordinary moment. That photo up above is of me and my beau, Ian. We were driving down the highway and saw this amazing field of sunflowers. We could have just driven on by. But instead, we stopped. That in itself was extraordinary. I loved the feeling of being lost among the rows of these giant flowers!
But then, Ian crouched down and said, "hop on my shoulders so you can see the whole field." THAT was an amazing, extraordinary moment. I will never forget the feeling of perching precariously on his shoulders, laughing and being surrounded by an entire field of happy flower faces! He was running down the rows — I was holding on for dear life — and everything felt exhilarating.
Guess what? Extraordinary moments just like that one, when strung together like jewels on a necklace, make up an extraordinary life.
If you're interested in five other quickie ways to bring celebration and joy into your day, check out my free download, "Joy is a Practice"