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January 2010
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10 ways to find joy (co-blogged with my other other half)

Linda and I are at it again. We are coblogging 10 ways to find joy. I think Linda’s blog might be titled differently (go check!). This list possibly started off as 10 ways to live joyously. I love though how we start from the same point and then end up all over the map. I’m terribly and awfully and hugely in love with Linda and our relationship right now. Sorry if I gush. (Also, I’m really wordy. I don’t know if I’m rebelling against Linda’s desire to keep the ways of joy short, but probably you should just skim.)

  1. Have a reason to get up in the morning
  2. I think this has more to do with just actually knowing how to live at all than living with joy. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever gotten from my natal family though. They all live life with such drive. They tend to take turns working for each other’s purposes, even when the goals are ridiculously overwhelming. My wedding and our traditional New Year’s Eve party are terrific examples of my family pulling together to do overwhelming tasks. I also watched a TED talk about living a longer life and this small group of people in Okinawa have a word, ikigai, that partially sparked the first thing on our list. I’m also going to think harder about what my ikigai is. It is very very easy when I’m with my natal family because “the family” is always the ikigai. But my personal one? I’m not sure. I have a lot of ideas. I might have to come back to this one.

  3. Be curious
  4. I have a perfect picture in my mind for this. The picture is my mom, balancing on slippery rocks trying to see crabs in some tidal pools. I learned to be curious from my mother. She has always wondered things and examined things and looked at things and asked questions. I’ve rarely agreed with her on the answers, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t admire her zest and thirst for life. Which leads to the next way to find joy.

  5. Be hungry
  6. Linda loves #3. I can tell you this because I’ve never met anyone with as much hunger for life as she has. Bodily hunger that causes her to stretch her senses with clothes, food, sex, scents, and activities (shooting a gun, jumping from an airplane, walking on hills and cliffs around her hometown, etc). Mental hunger that causes her to question her life and habits, to read books that answer questions and pose new ones, and to talk to even the strangest people she’s ever met. Hunger for me is as different from curiosity as Linda is different from me. In my mind, I am curious and Linda is hungry. I strive to be more like her as often as I can. I also think we appreciate this difference in each other.

  7. Have friends
  8. Considering that an overwhelming amount of joy in my life comes from my friends, both blood family and those that I’ve collected over the years, I wouldn’t even know where to begin explaining this statement except to say that friends are lifelong adventures.

  9. Bygones
  10. Like many things in my life, this started with Linda. She loves Ally McBeal to an overwhelming degree and apparently the phrase “Let bygones be bygones” gets shortened by a character to just “Bygones” and others in tv show sometimes respond or preempt him by saying “NO bygones.” when they wish to tell him that they won’t let the past go. I think part of experiencing and finding joy is knowing that sometimes the past can weigh you down and sometimes you stand upon the past. I guess you can imagine your past like a hill that you can’t leave. Sometimes it feels like that hill is pushing you further into the sky and sometimes that hill is just a tiny bump and you really want to jump higher or climb a moutain, but you can’t…. That metaphor took me in the wrong direction, but! Sometimes you can find joy when you are looking at the sky or standing on your hill.

  11. Appreciate the fucking ridiculous
  12. I think this list is a perfect example.

  13. Be present
  14. #7 and #8 to me should have been one point, but Linda wanted brevity and consistency. Ignore how #6 and #1 really don’t fit. My explanation for #7 and #8 come from when my family was playing laser tag this Christmas. We were all laughing and screaming and getting tagged and the kids were being ridiculous and we all had so much fun. We were all there, together, playing. No one was pouting in a corner, no one was wishing they were somewhere else. It was cold and a little wet and sometimes the kids that were too little to play would scream when they found someone to help the opposite team. But the game and being with each other consumed us all.

  15. Be deliberate
  16. I also tried to realize how much fun I was having and realize how much I was happy to be there and how much fun I was having. My original thought for this point was to say “be aware of your presence”. Would my family have not had fun because I was absent? No. Did my presence change the game? Yes. Sometimes my joy comes from being a big part of something, but mostly I’m there to add me to the mix. It works.

  17. Celebrate
  18. Bear and I rarely celebrate things. We rarely take time to stop and enjoy an occasion. Anniversaries, birthdays, promotions, etc. They all swoosh by with Bear and I just doing our versions of high fives at each other. So for me, celebrations mean Linda. Linda celebrates everything (except Christmas). Valentine’s day, Thanksgiving, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Half Birthdays, Moves, Promotions, etc. are all reasons to bring people together and make joy and happiness and connections. She’s amazing at that. I love her for that one facet of her personality alone.

  19. Be thankful
  20. In my mind, joy and thankfulness are often intertwined. Every time I am thankful for something, joy exists as well. Sometimes it’s small. I’m very thankful that Bear and I have made it home after two beautiful weeks with my family. It’s a small bit of gratitude and the joy is mingled with missing my family, but it’s there.

Linda and I talked about the fact that love is necessary for joy (love for life, humanity in general, animals, specific people, nature, something), but love doesn’t fit with everything else on the list. You can work on finding your ikigai or taking time to be thankful or celebrating things or nurturing your curiosity, but how do you work on love? I think love comes from other things. Learning how to show and appreciate affection. Putting others ahead of yourself. Gratitude. So, if you read this and wonder why love isn’t on the list, this was our reasoning. Tell me if you find it faulty.