I love a new year. A new year is full of hope and promise—a fresh start, like a clean piece of paper sitting next to a newly sharpened pencil. The possibilities are endless.
I’ve never really been one for resolutions. Every year I make a mental list of all the things I’d like to improve (exercise more, eat less frozen yogurt, be patient) but by January 12th, I’ve already skipped four workouts, eaten 18 ounces of peppermint stick with m&m’s, and allowed my head to explode. Twice.
So, in light of wanting to achieve the possible, I have decided to make only one resolution for 2011.
I am going to choose joy.
–noun 1. the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good.
–verb 1. to feel joy; be glad; rejoice.
I believe if you look closely enough, you can find joy just about anywhere. It’s in your chocolate cake and your favorite pair of shoes and in your friend’s new baby’s smile. It’s in the swimming pool and a good book and a funny conversation and a quiet morning. It’s in the big important cherished moments that impact all of us, and in the tiny beautiful things that most people fail to notice. Joy is everywhere around us, waiting to be found and waiting to be chosen.
Too often, we let things get in the way of our joy. Stress. Self-inflicted pity. Other people who want to see us fail. Sometimes it’s our own selfishness and first world problems, which lead us to complain and whine about things that don’t matter at all. And sometimes it’s bigger than that; it’s a world full of heartache and sickness and hunger, which lead us to feel both helpless and insignificant.
When all of these negative forces combine, it becomes a dangerous trap, like a hurricane sucking us in one by one. All of a sudden we find ourselves surrounded by depression, anger, frustration, and disappointment without knowing how we even got there. And the only way to escape is to make a conscious decision to do so.
2010 was a good year, but 2011 is going to be a great year. It’s going to be the year that I rejoice more than I complain. The year that I celebrate more than I break down. The year that I give, wholeheartedly, of my attitude and actions with the hope that they will positively affect the people around me. Because my only resolution for 2011 is to encourage smiles and inspire high spirits and create belly laughs in those who need it most.
Enter: the joy pledge; a dedicated effort to find and choose joy on a regular basis in hopes that sharing it will, in turn, inspire others to choose joy as well.
How it works:
There are no rules to the joy pledge. This isn’t a weekly or monthly project, or something dedicated solely to photos or solely to words. A joy pledge post stems purely from inspiration. Maybe it’s a photo of a sunset, or a description of a newly mastered yoga pose. It might be a recorded conversation with a stranger, or a picture of the best cupcake you’ve ever had the pleasure of sampling. A joy pledge post exists to share and inspire the art of finding and choosing joy at every available opportunity.
If you choose to take the joy pledge, the same rules (or lack thereof) apply to you. Bonus points will be awarded to those who can find joy in the most uncommon (and perhaps unjoyful) places.
This isn’t about me, and it’s not about you. This is about us—creating, sharing, and inspiring joy with and for each other. This is our year. Let’s not let it go to waste, but do good with it.
*Graphics courtesy of Pugly Pixel.