Happiness: What My Brain Does To Give Joy To My Heart

Happiness: what my brain does to give joy to my heartI got reminded recently that intentionally thinking about the things that bring you great joy over time can make you more joyful. My immediate thought was “I don’t need to be more joyful- that’s for sad people.” Which, let’s be real, is a sad thing to say.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized I constantly think about things that frustrate me to no end. I am passionate about a few things. When people say something thoughtless about my passions, I spend all day proving them wrong in my head. …and occasionally out loud, if both parties respect each other enough to be able to disagree.

So ultimately, after silently arguing with the “be more joyful” source, I decided to be more joyful. Here’s what I’ve been thinking about:

Bad Guy Attack Plans. I used to do this all the time as a kid. It was always some pirate, ninja, or melodrama-style bank robber breaking into my house for no real reason at all other than that they were bad guys. I have imaginary fights with these villains about once a day. Sometimes I have powers, sometimes I can simply outwit them- but I always win after a good fight. I think it keeps my bravery alive.  Which brings me joy.

Baby Animals. More specifically, baby mammals. Because baby reptiles are just small reptiles and birds are gross when they’re babies (all eye-bally and naked- ugh). Yes, in the world of babies, mammals win every time. So every day I have googled images of different baby mammals. (I know I could just go to Facebook, but I already unsubscribed from everyone with kids and I don’t count those anyway.) Baby llamas, chimpanzees, elephants, bears, whatever. Something makes my heart go pitter-pat when I look at them. Joy.

Dinosaurs. I’m a boy. Sue me. Last night I may or may not have raced some middle school students while running in the fashion of the Velociraptor (confession: I totally did). Actually, you can tack that statement on to most of my evenings. Every day after work, as you retire to your study donning your leisure robe and sipping, I don’t know- brandy?, feel free to wonder if tonight is one of those wonderful nights which finds Chadwick being his true self by posing as an ancient carnivore. Then you can smile for me, knowing that I am free.  Joy.

Ghosts. I don’t think ghosts are real. But wouldn’t it be so cool if they were? I think up new rules for ghosts all the time. What do I mean rules? I’ll give you an example. I once drove my roommate into avoiding me totally because I constantly asked him what he would do if he found out our toilet was haunted by a ghost who couldn’t escape until he completed some toilet-haunting mission. I mostly wanted my roommate to have to sort out the details on whether this was gross creepy or scary creepy. Also, what do you think the mission would be? Do you think the toilet ghost would be ambitious about his mission or all “whatever, man, I’m just going to hang out in this toilet with you guys”? ooh! Do you think you’d be scared even if you knew he was a friendly non-creepy ghost that just got stuck with a nasty location? Maybe it’s just a chance to play with my imagination. Joy.

Ghosts of Dinosaurs. Seriously, you guys. What if dinosaurs could haunt us? That would be ridiculous! Imagine some brontosaurus phantom slowly bumbling up to my front porch, lowering its head, and casually mentioning, “Hey. Uhhm, You should leave this place.” I know the next thing out of my mouth would be something like, “I think you mean LET’S BE BEST FRIENDS!!” Joy.

Remember those days when we used to draw the things we loved, or pretended to be them, or did some activity that connected us to them every day? What happened? How did I ever get convinced that thinking about someone who hates me is a better use of time over wrestling my dog?

What do you love? Let’s put those in the front of our minds. 


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  3. A very thoughtful friend sent this to me privately to add on:

    Daydreaming about my next artistic creation makes me giddy. Artistic expression, I believe, is so good for us. Whether you are creating a garden, a dance routine, rebuilding a car, writing a poem, or like me- painting an abstract landscape, the world seems to slow down and become interested in what I’m doing. I feel supported by the cosmos. There’s no question that what I’m doing is important, right, and good.

    I like discovering that I’m happy for no reason. Simply that ‘I am’ can be uplifting to the point of being overwhelmed. I’m writing a children’s book in which the main character is scared and confused because the universe is so big and vast, and that she is so small and insignificant. “Why do I matter at all?”, she asks over and over. Until one day she meets someone who tells her, “Don’t you realize how extraordinary it is to be anything at all?” Being anything at all makes me happy.

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