I work with some pretty great people. Our little work family might be made up of strong personality types and complete opposites, but we all have each other’s back. Some of us are dark and twisty, some of us are worriers, but Lexi Grey (name changed to protect the sort of innocent) is always looking on the bright side. She says something I love. Any time there is some kind of simple pleasure, like new ink pens, Starbucks runs, Atticus poetry, or other frivolous bits of happiness, she says, “It brings me joy.”
I’ve always thought of joy as sort of spiritual, almost unattainable. Like it had to come from something deep or important. Lexi reminds me that it doesn’t have to at all. Simple things can bring us joy. Like after my mom died, she brought me a bag with “little bits of happy”– felt-tip pens, face masks, rainbow stickers. Things that would bring joy.
The world is sort of eery right now. At least my world is. I was telling someone at work today that it’s so strange because we show up for work, and we put on our brave face and take care of our patients, but there’s this big cloud of unknown hovering over us. When I leave for the day, sometimes it’s a shock to me to be outside. To see the sun coming out, hear the birds sing, listen to music on the radio like it’s business as usual. Everything outside of the hospital looks almost normal.
So I decided to do something different yesterday. I stopped at a gas station because you know, it’s the apocalypse. Wouldn’t want to run out of gas. As I was pumping gas I thought, “Wow, it’s kind of warm out here today.” And in the middle of the eery and the crazy, I did something that makes me happy. I took the tops out of my Jeep, turned my music up loud, and drove home.
My Other Half thinks of my Jeep as a mid-life crisis or something. We went from a station wagon to a Wrangler with a lift kit, which I guess is a little strange. But there’s nothing that makes me feel quite as relaxed and calm as rolling down the windows, taking the top of the Jeep, and cranking up some music as loud as it takes to drown out my thoughts. It brings me joy.
Pictured above are some other things that bring me joy. Like watching my kids be care-free for a few minutes. Or stuffed plush Bob Ross (who incidentally is my dad’s transplant buddy– he has to be present for all the hospital stays because he brings joy). And the little creepy sheep statue. I saw it at TJ Maxx, and for some reason I just had to have it. No one needs a creepy sheep statue, but it made me happy.
Right now there are so many things that are uncertain and it’s easy to get wrapped up in the anxiety of it all. Lexi helps me remember that it’s OK to find joy in the small things in the middle of crisis. None of us have any real control over the bad things that happen in our lives. One time I told My Friend that I felt more comfortable at work than I did at home, and he said it’s because at work I get to have this false sense of control over things. He’s probably right. But finding joy in little things? I definitely have control over that. And so do you.
So crank up the tunes. Sing off key. Ride with the windows down. Do the Jeep Wave. Write with colored pens instead of black pens just because you can. Hold hands with someone you love (preferably someone who lives in your house so we’re not spreading the plague). Find joy in these inconsequential things that we all take for granted. As we learn to appreciate all these small things, I think we might realize that really, they’re the big things. What about you? What simple pleasures bring you joy?