How to find joy every day
Many years ago, when we lived in London, I worked in the head office of a British department store. A couple of times a year, the department store would have “Mega Day”, which was a store-wide sale with lots of special offers and juicy discounts. On these days, it was ‘all hands-on deck’ and head office employees were expected to go and help out in the stores – even if it just required us picking up and putting away stock. Because Mega Day usually took place on a Friday, and because we could choose which store we worked in, many of my colleagues took the advantage of leaving London and visiting the store closest to where their families lived. I didn’t have any family in London, so usually assisted in the closest store on Oxford Street.
On one particular occasion, I was delighted when one of the senior members of my team, Jo decided to join me in the Oxford St store. It was wonderful having a companion to tidy up with and take breaks with.
On one of our breaks during the day, we took some time to peruse the cosmetic department and the special offers that were running across various brands. Clinique had some very enticing offers and Jo was deliberating about how much to buy. I remember saying to her, “you only live one – you may as well stock up while it’s on sale”.
As Jo and I parted ways at the end of the day, I said “see you tomorrow” and watched her walk off to the Tube, lugging her big bag of Clinique goodies. I wondered what her husband would say when she got home with all this expensive skin care product, and hoped I hadn’t been a bad influence!
When I arrived at work the next day, I was met at the entrance to our office by a colleague with a grim look on her face, and ushered straight into our manager’s office. I wasn’t even given the chance to put my bag down at my desk, and wondered if I was about to be made redundant. When I entered my manager’s office, I discovered the rest of my team was also there. “Oh gosh,” I thought, “they’re going to make our whole team redundant!”. We waited in uncomfortable silence for a few moments until our last team member arrived. Finally, our manager spoke. With a grave expression, she said she regretted to inform us that Jo wouldn’t be at work that day, or any other day for that matter. She had passed away last night from a heart-attack.
We were all floored. I couldn’t comprehend it – it had been little more than 12 hours since we left work together yesterday afternoon. She was so vibrant, so vivacious, and excited about her new purchases and the time we’d spent in store.
Apart from the guilt I felt about the plethora of skincare I’d talked her into buying that she’d never use, the real kicker was that Jo was only in her 40s. Although she had no children, Jo was very close to her husband – they were each other’s world. It was a devastating blow for him, as well as our little work team, which was never the same again.
Fast-forward nearly twenty years, and I was in the chemist recently, perusing the cosmetics aisle while waiting for a script to be made up. Shopping alongside me were two old ducks (and I say that in an endearing way, because they were adorable in the way they waddled down the aisle behind their walking frames, “quacking” comments to each other about makeup and life in general. There was a sale on, and they were stocking up. They needed eyeshadow, face-power, eyebrow pencils – the works. They were struggling to find the colours they wanted, or that would best match their skin, so asked for my advice. I was glad to assist. Twenty minutes later that both waddled away with more makeup than they could carry – it’s a bonus that walking frames double as shopping trollies!
My interaction with these lovely old ladies – who were probably both in their 80s made me smile. I then suddenly thought back to my day with Jo and a wave of guilt washed over me – what if one of these lovely old ladies popped her clogs tomorrow? I’d be responsible for talking yet another person into buying cosmetics they’ll never use!
Luckily, joy pulled me back to the present moment and away from my spiralling thoughts. These old gals had just had the time of their life – shopping in the cosmetics aisle like a pair of teenage girls. I’d also had fun helping them, and admired that regardless of their age, they were out and about, still wanting to make an effort on their appearance, even if it was just for a trip to the shops.
I suddenly realised; it wasn’t about the makeup at all – in fact it didn’t matter how much of the makeup they used. What counted was the joy we all felt from the moments we shared. And if my two new friends felt great wearing the makeup, that was an added bonus.
I thought back to Jo’s last day, which I now realised I was privileged to share with her. She’d had a great day. To my knowledge, she wasn’t in pain and didn’t feel unwell. We’d had fun working and shopping together, and I’m sure she’d enjoyed the feeling of anticipation about using her new skincare purchases when she got home.
Regardless of when our time is up, we can’t take anything with us – including new skincare or makeup. All we can do is enjoy it, AND the way it makes us feel while we’re here. And sometimes it’s not the thing we buy that matters, but the fun that was had precuring it. To me, THIS is joy, and we need to seek more of it, especially in these everyday moments and interactions, no matter how small.
This July, my Word of the Month is Joy, which means I’ll be sprinkling as much of it as I can throughout your month, starting with some beautiful daily quotes which you can find on my blog and Facebook page.
This month, I also encourage you to capture any joyful moments you experience in your journal. This helps in two ways: firstly, it helps you recognise that there is an abundance of joyful moments scattered throughout your day. But like breadcrumbs, they are fleeting, and you need to look for them. Secondly, once you have identified the moments that bring you the most joy, such as making someone smile, you can aspire to add more of these to your day.
This month, I can also bring more joy to your journaling practice. My life-changing journaling course, Joyful Journaling Journey opens for enrolments on Tuesday 19th July. This unique course is jam-packed with strategies that will help newbie and seasoned journalers alike by establishing a regular journaling practice, as well as taking your existing practice to the next level so you can journal your way to a life of clarity, intention and purpose. Check out the link in the show notes for more details, or drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, or if you want me to add you to the waitlist and save your spot.
AND, if you want some inspiring journaling prompts to kick-start your journaling practice, you can grab my free Journaling Guide with 100 prompts, as well as some super helpful info on the benefits of journaling, along with tips on how to establish a consistent journaling practice right here.