Joy Spotting

I am
connected with someone near my age on social media who let go of living the traditional life. She and her husband have become world citizens - downsizing to the basics and opening themselves up to opportunity. They have lived in tiny homes, kayaked up the west coast of British Columbia, and are now overseas exploring country after country.  I'm just not sure I am ready to function without a home base, but I love following her posts and dreaming.

The other day she used the phrase joy spotting in her post and the phrase leapt off the page at me. I instantly loved the concept. And I loved the visual those words painted in my mind. What a wonderful way to move through life.  Instead of having our eyes focused in tight on problems, our to-do list, worries, and our daily routine, we can instead choose joy spotting - always keeping our eyes open for the positive

We can choose to look up, down, left, right and way ahead. We can turn and look back, savoring memories of the great experiences we just enjoyed. We can embrace a panoramic view of all that surrounds us, or zoom in tight, peeking in between the branches to find a small magical treat.


Joy spotting.  What a perfect mantra to begin each day with.  What a perfect perspective to guide our steps as we move forward. When life becomes chaotic, it is so very easy to get lost in our dark thoughts to the exclusion of everything else.  I've had that happen when out on a walk.  I leave the house in a state of worry and spend the entire time in my head chewing over what to do, missing the river flowing by me, the eagles perched in the trees and the heron stalking the shallows, looking for a meal. What a waste!

When I catch myself in that place, I make a concerted effort to let go and turn my mind to the beauty around me.  One trick I've learned is taking random pictures on my cell phone.  Most get deleted, but it has proven a great tool to help me get out of my head and more immersed visually in my surroundings.  I don't pause long, or try to get the right image, I just snap a pic of something that catches my eye. This helps my mind zero in and pause.

That's a technique that works for me, but may not work for you.  It takes thought, and trying several different options to figure out the best way for you to quiet a chaotic mind.  Bicycling has worked for me too, but in a different way. I have to pedal hard and let all my random thoughts bubble up one after the other. Eventually my mind runs out of of things to say and I find myself centered in a quiet space enjoying the sensations of flying down the road. Others have shared jogging or hiking does the trick for them.

Try to stop every once and a while and check in.  Has your focus been hijacked to only see one small area of your life - the problems, the work, the goals, what to cook for dinner? If so, it's time to consider how best to lift your eyes higher so they can do some joy spotting. Something as small as a tiny flower blooming in the lawn, or as big as a beautiful sunset can raise your spirits. A phone call from a friend, or a simple smile from a stranger in passing.

Every day
 make time - no matter how small - where you intentionally turn your focus to joy spotting. It can be something as simply as the aroma of a meal cooking or the view out one of your windows. Try to build on this beginning, stretching out the time spent in this state until you find yourself joy spotting randomly without thought. If it helps, commit to writing down five things you saw or experienced each day that brought a smile. 

Slowly, joy spotting will grow into a habit that becomes an integral part of your life.