Tuesday, February 14, 2006

List of Joy

One of the local radio stations here has a regular feature called “A Day in the Life,” in which their reporter goes out to learn what it’s like to be somebody else. It’s a great series and has included interviews with a butcher, a cloistered nun, a prisoner in Mountjoy, and a blind person.

Yesterday, the interview was with a therapist, who had all the soft-toned, empathetic understanding you’d expect from a man with his job. One of the things he said intrigued me though. He was talking about counseling people and how one of the questions he likes to ask is what brings the person joy. Not contentment or happiness but real joy. His contention was that, in the struggle and stress of daily living, most people forget how to be joyful.

One of the exercises he recommends with his clients is writing down a list of 25 things that make them joyful. He said most people get stuck around number 6. I like a good challenge, so I had a go:

1. Dogs in general, Kodiak (and Caper) in particular
2. Feeding ducks, swans and geese
3. Petting Farms/Zoos
4. The big swinging boat ride often seen at county fairs in the States
5. Doing art projects with my nieces and nephews
6. Seeing the seals in Bullock Harbour, especially the one I nicknamed Mr. I-Ordered-Fish
7. Endorphin highs when exercising
8. Sunlight in autumn mornings
9. Kids meal toys, especially the ones from Supermac’s
10. Having a snow day (I am totally jealous of the East Coast right now)
11. Getting funny texts from Peter
12. Seeing wildlife on car trips or hikes (you do not even want to know how crazy I will go if I ever get to see a badger)
13. Making a good play in camogie
14. Good swimming days, when everything clicks and I feel like a fish
15. Finding something that I’ve given up for lost
16. Being around horses
17. When Peter takes me on one of my bizarre agricultural outings
18. MY BIRTHDAY!!! (in my hand-written list, this one was underlined 3 times)
19. Receiving a good email from an old friend
20. Watching the neighbourhood cats play in the garden
21. Seeing my brothers after a long separation, namely the tackle-hugs that ensue
22. Finishing a novel (the writing of, that is)
23. Having a new character pop into my head to tell me a story or solve a problem in a novel
24. Splashing in puddles

I did get a number 25, but I thought of it sometime after writing my list and I can’t remember it now. I told it to Peter. Maybe he’ll be kind enough to leave a comment if he remembers it. Obviously, all this joy makes one forgetful.

It was a good exercise and one that I enjoyed a lot more than counting blessings. Being grateful for something carries a lot of baggage. Appreciating what you have is all right, but the whole pious Puritanical Thanksgiving-esque counting-your-blessings can, ironically, be a bit of a downer.

Joy is simple and pure – it just is. A few weeks ago, Peter and I walked up Killiney Hill so he could take some photographs. The site is popular with dog walkers and there were about 8 dogs having a no-holds-barred off-leash dog party, romping and frolicking and chasing. That’s joy.

I’m lucky in life to have a low excitement threshold. Much like Kodiak, a ride in the car is easily the highlight of my day. Sure, I appreciate some of the finer things in life – single-malt whisky, good films, four-star hotels. But I really enjoy the heck out of the little things.


At 14 February 2006 at 11:53, Blogger Radio Free Newport said...

25. Images of Bob Gruen fisting.

You're welcome.

(Good post!)

At 14 February 2006 at 14:44, Blogger Mirty said...

Great idea.

At 14 February 2006 at 15:40, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

I liked it.

At 14 February 2006 at 20:34, Blogger Col said...

Dave-- Nice to "see" you again. Lovely image you shared with us. (You know I still work there, right!!)

Ann-- Hi! Great post. Maybe #25 can be something about ice cream on a hot day!?!

At 14 February 2006 at 21:07, Blogger -Ann said...

Sadly, Peter can't remember #25, but I can assure you that it's not your suggestion, Dave.

I can also assure everyone else that Dave's views do not represent the views of this blog. In short, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain because he's simply mad. :)

Looking forward to reading your list, Mirty.

At 14 February 2006 at 21:09, Blogger -Ann said...

Hey, Col, I was just thinking I could never send my blog link to anyone from there again. Too late, I see. I like your idea for #25 (although we don't get hot days here).

At 15 February 2006 at 02:12, Blogger Career Guy said...

Happy Valentine's Day! Your card is in the mail. Hmmm. 25 things? I'll have to get started on that. For numbers 1-2-3, how do I sort you guys out? Gotta go with birth order. Woo hoo--you win!

At 15 February 2006 at 02:39, Blogger Arbusto said...

Ooh ooh! Getting mail!

At 15 February 2006 at 14:55, Blogger Barbara said...

I would guess that one of your answers would be "writing". Your writing seems to give all of your readers joy....why wouldn't it provide you with joy??

At 15 February 2006 at 18:14, Blogger -Ann said...

Barb - I think writing's pretty well covered in 22 and 23. 23 is especially rewarding.

Dad - Nope, come on. We ALL know who gets the top spot. The new favourite. The one who's replaced us all in cuteness and enjoyability - Max. :)

At 16 February 2006 at 17:03, Blogger Lex Fori said...

Just reading this list made me feel kinda happy. I think I shall engage in this exercise soon. Thanks!!!

At 17 February 2006 at 10:28, Blogger Pragmatician said...

It's a great idea and something different than the typical pro/con lists
Thanks for sharing


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