For the longest time I thought I would never find a job I liked as much as my job at Dairy Queen. I was fifteen and I worked with my best friend, Kirsten. There was so much about that job that brought me joy.

  • I got to hang out with my best friend (on left).
  • Customers were generally happy people.
  • I laughed a lot. Sometimes, in fact, Kirsten and I would laugh quite uncontrollably like you sometimes do at fifteen (and, as it turns out – also at 47), about anything and everything.
  • When the shift ended, so did my thoughts of making Buster Bars.
  • I got to wear a head scarf and apron. (eh hum)

Those were joyful times for me. We know we are experiencing joy when the static in our life disappears and we see, hear, feel and experience life with clarity and contentment in the moment (also known as peace). Joy can be found in pleasures, but pleasures alone can not create sustaining joy. Pleasures are fleeting experiences that end when the experience ends. For example, the pleasure of a hot fudge sundae ends when the last bite is taken. That is not to say there is no place for pleasures. Passive pleasures offer us delicious experiences in life that are unmistakably joyful, but alone are not joy. While I enjoyed the many blizzards and other treats I consumed during my days at Dairy Queen, those are not the memories that provide lingering joy today… it is the laughter, the friendship, and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with having my first “real” job.

I believe that the most honest and informative emotion we experience is joy. Joy gets right to the heart of who we are. It reveals our passions, our interests, our likes and our loves. Tuning into joy is akin to moving the dial of a radio station from the fuzzy muffled static-filled noise to the crystal clear sound of music. Joy is everywhere. Unfortunately, so is pain – we choose which we tune in to. I choose joy, how about you? Joy can be found in the past, in the present and even in thoughts of our future. You can tune-in in any direction, joy is always within reach.

Joy lingers. Joy informs. Joy provides meaning and direction. Joy is a roadmap that takes us right to the center of who we are. When we know what brings us joy, we know who we are. What brings me joy may overlap with what brings you joy, but your joys will be uniquely combined in ways that define you, just as mine define me.

Can you identify 100 different things that bring you joy? On my joy list you will find things like: hot-out-of-the-dryer bleached white cotton socks, the feel of the wind against my skin on a 70-degree day with clear blue skies as I ride my bike on a country road with no cars in sight, the taste of soft-shell crab rolls from Sakura, taking photographs and videos of people, creating movies of my sons, time with my family, laughing, seeing other’s find their joy, listening to my boys sing, sunsets over Lake Michigan, completing a house project, etc.