Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.Henri J. M. Nouwen
Today I participated in a virtual live stream of a religious conference where one of the speakers told a story about “adding more joy.” Immediately, that brought to mind baking and the metaphor of life being a cake and joy being an important ingredient. I was working on a painting while I listened to the speakers, so the thought of drawing an analogy to baking made me snicker at myself. Why didn’t my brain liken adding more joy to painting?
The past two days have been busy with work and stressful with some leadership decisions where I’ve had to investigate where my personal priorities intersect with and possibly exceed institutional policies. The point is, while there was much enjoyment in my work the past two days, I ended them with less of a joyful after-taste solely because of my own focus. I thought about choosing joy, and I kept painting.
The background for the painting was dry weeks ago; I put off coming back to it. I was a little intimidated by the painting. This one was my first time setting out to paint something for someone else who had actually asked for a piece of my work. It’s primarily blues, silvers, and black, and it’s a picture of rain. As “add more joy” wafted through my mind, I thought While blue is my favorite color and I love the rain, maybe this won’t be such an obvious connection to joy for anyone else. Oh, well. Maybe my love would seep through some joy anyway.
I marinated in the thought of adding more joy as I painted and listened to the remainder of the stake conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The painting was finished when the conference was. That’s when I realized it. This was one of the least stressful painting experiences I’ve had, especially when considering I was painting it for someone else. Somehow, having the thought of adding joy in the back of my mind kept me enjoying the painting process more than my overthinking, perfectionist tendencies could overpower. Painting this was a lot of fun.
Now to trust that if I marinate in the thought of adding more joy as I work, even under stressful circumstances, my love of what I’m doing and what I care about will seep through–if not into the product, at least into the process. At the very least, it will be a lot more fun.
The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.Russel N. Nelson
Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.Gordon B. Hinckley