Undentable Joy

While walking my dog and indulging in my newest addiction, podcasts, I heard a line that stopped me in my tracks…literally.  I had to pause in my walk and immediately jot down what was said.  My dog looked confused tugged at the leash, but to no avail, the wheels of an inspiration had hit.  People drove by silently judging (I used to be one of them!) the woman who was ignoring her dog to be on her phone.  I now no longer silently judge people walking and typing on their phones…might be creative inspiration at work.  They need to be encouraged with padded electrical poles and perhaps a moving sidewalk. 

This particular podcast which I was unable to locate on the website as it was an older episode was discussing Thanksgiving and gratitude (Ologies with Alie Ward), and in the discussion, the words came up “undentable joy.”  A visual image of someone being barraged with negativity with a layer of insulation while they existed in a state of calm and peace came immediately to mind.   Well, Pandora’s box had been opened, and ideas began to flow about what undentable joy looked like and how one could obtain it in their own life.

An aside:

Please know that when I discuss undentably joy I am discussing it in terms of day-to-day life, its ups and downs.  Extreme life events like grief and loss are circumstances where discussing undentable joy seems inappropriate. That being said, joy never travels alone, and while it takes a back seat in certain circumstances, it is replaced by its cohorts of resilience and hope.

Undentable joy is not running around in a state of perma-grin.  It is not exuding positivity inauthentically.  It is the ability to be live in a state of mindfulness and delight that is not dependent on life to be good, but that to live is good.

Undentable joy is a choice, but it’s a choice that needs strengthening.  Thinking about undentable joy as a practice, I began to recognize areas in my life this year where I have been building up my insulation.   Humor, limiting negative social media and news, a good dose of nature and surrounding myself with uplifting books and podcasts have been a few ways I keep myself in the joy zone.   The big two though by far have been a daily practice of gratitude and meditation which I started earlier this year.

Meditation

 You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour. – Zen proverb.

Five minutes, five minutes is all it has taken to bring me from constant mind chatter to mental quiet and being present.  I’m not saying I achieve this all the time, and even this morning, I found myself meditating on my grocery list.  When I started this practice, the peace and calm did not come right away, but gradually.  I started to notice things more like the way the wind stirred the autumn leaves and how one leaf drifted down like an elegant Mary Poppins.  My emotions were a little more even keeled and less led by the anxious roommate in my brain.  I occupied the present more than the future.

Gratitude

Every day mentally or in my journal, I list three things I am grateful for.  My gratitude has extended from being thankful for big things like family and shelter to appreciating a simple cup of coffee and fuzzy pajama pants.  Gratitude has a way of weaving itself through the day and taking away reasons to complain.  The size of the gratitude does not seem to matter, what seems matter is where your focus goes. 

Meditation and gratitude have made it possible to stay more often in a state of undentable joy.  Without these practices, I would turn to guilt …I should be happier, why can’t I be more positive and relaxed, but the effectiveness of guilt is demonstrated in my daily exercise regimen (non-existent).

Well, there you have it, my sidewalk musings.  I am curious though, what are some of your undentable joy builders?

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

Simple Things Make Me Happy

Squabbling over some prime sunflower seeds, the two Chestnut Chickadees chase each other around my feeder.  I find it baffling at times how birds can waste time arguing with each other when there is obviously plenty of food to be had by all…. are they siblings perhaps?  Hanging at odd angles, the Stellar Jay calmly dines aware that other than the cat that saunters through the yard on occasion it is the big kid on the block. Chittering away, my yard is alive with all the neighborhood birds that care to frequent my feeder.  Like a soap opera if you sit and watch long enough, you observe little dramas…the little one that seems to have to opportunistically sneak seed here and there, the boisterous one that is the first one to fly to the feeder after they are all scared away and the ones that seem to be prefer ground-level dining (I think they are the organic crowd).

This simple thing makes me happy.

These days, I find myself comparing the price of what something costs to the amount of enjoyment I am procuring from said activity and have come to conclusion that free or low cost makes me happy.  High-cost activities come with high expectations, and high expectations most often leads to a feeling of being let down or lacking.

Peace begins when expectations end – Anonymous Buddhist quote

This week, I watched a cheesy movie with my son on a weekday morning (I felt like such a rebel!).  If I had paid movie prices, I would have been very disappointed. Since it came from the library with the price tag of free, I had no expectations it would be good, looked forward to making fun of the cheese and saw it as an opportunity to knit and hang with my son.

This simple thing made me happy.

My sister, niece and nephew are coming for a visit this weekend, and I get to make my nephew a birthday ice cream cake.  Sure I could buy one as my nephew would not even notice the difference and would probably even prefer the store-bought cake, but I enjoy the kind of cooking where you can throw together a bunch of ingredients and see where they land, and very few things are as forgiving as an ice cream cake to give you that creative license…have you ever heard “Ewwww, too much Oreo.”  I think not.

This simple thing will make me happy.

And happy is where I choose to be.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less. – Socrates