Joy is a skill that can be learned
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Joy is a skill that can be learned

I was catching up on my CBC Tapestry listening the other day and was struck by this one 7 minute segment on Joy. In this portion of the podcast Chade-Meng Tan explained that by ‘thin slicing’ moments of joy we can increase our happiness. By thin slicing, Chade means the space they occur is small and the duration is short.

He explains it is as simple as noticing the small experiences when we feel joy. These brief moments of pleasure have both a feeling and sensation within us. They are linked – so start by noticing fleeting, pleasing sensations; The smell of apple pie, or baking bread, the deep mellow sound of a gong, or a cello, the sensation of stepping into warm bath. Thinking of a beloved being is a moment of joy.

The moment of noticing the pleasure of the experience is a small moment of joy. When your toothpick releases that piece of food from your tooth, your gums are free there is relief and joy. “Ahhh. I am not stuck.”

Walking into a warm cozy room after being out in the cold is a moment of joy. I feel “ahh” and sense a melting moment in my chest. Conversely I love that first moment of stepping into a forest, I catch my breath at the beautiful silence – my chest is lightly held upwards. Then, as I begin moving among the trees, I feel a deepening of my breath, creating a spreading in my upper body, as my feet move over soft spongy pine needles, my knees and legs have resilience and “seem happy”. I notice that it is not so silent after all, another moment of joy.

It is noticing the uplifting and opening sensations in your body self, noticing these little ‘softenings’ anywhere in you, are moments of joy. When you send the sensation up a neural pathway to your brain saying – “oh this is a moment of joy,” you start looking for more of the thinly sliced moments of pleasurable experiences.

Such feelings and sensations occur when you meet an old friend or a new friend you are connected to – little sips of joy all day long make all the difference to your way of being. They can be “aww w” moments or “ohh “moments, what is key is that we notice the moments. The moments are always there, waiting for us to notice, no matter what is going on.

As I get better at noticing, I notice how I am able to ‘bank’ my nature walks, my ‘tree baths’ and thinking of them briefly over the course of the day offer me a thin slice of joy when I am in the rush of city traffic.

It is the noticing of the experience that increases your access to, and level of joy. It is that simple. Chade chuckles as he explains the simplicity of the act of noticing. His chuckling made me smile – ah a moment of joy.

Chade offers a 5 second experience which I have shared with my clients and in my classes. We have noticed a difference in our relationships. I remind myself at the beginning of the week – 5 seconds is all it takes. I don’t want to habituate and stop noticing.

1) Bring a person to mind, (start with someone you like), and for 5 seconds say “I wish for this person to be happy.”

Do this 5 second thought for every hour you are working. You may notice that you smile when you wish this. Mr. Tan reminds us that being on the giving end of a kind thought is intrinsically rewarding. He says “when we uplift ourselves with a goodness, eventually goodness and joy become one. To be joyful is to be good, to be good is to be joyful.” How is that for a simple daily 5-second practice? I invite you to try this today. I would also welcome your experiences with trying it. Drop me a line at nadine.saxton@gmail.com

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