Finding Joy

There’s a lot of emphasis on finding joy right now, especially as this time of year bursts onto the scene.  The holidays are coming up, and we know this because holiday decorations have been up since September.  I actually saw a full-on Christmas tree go up in a retail store well before the pop-up costume stores had closed, and for some reason that scared me more than the window dressings in Halloween Town. And receiving countdown messages to Black Friday from retailers? Yeeks. Feels like all kinds of pressure.

The idea, of course, is that you find joy by purchasing it – preferably on SALE, SALE, SALE.  Now I’m not saying that you cannot find joy by using money.  In fact, one of my favorite presentations I gave this year was All About Money – specifically that it is not evil and, in fact, focusing on using money as a conduit to express what you care about most can bring a lot of peace to one’s life. And to the lives of those around you.

The trick, of course, is to steer your money in that finding joy process – to invest in what you love, in who you love, and in causes that matter to you; to use money as a means of expression to support what you want to see more of in the world. That’s a pretty different concept than using money to just buy more things because they are well priced, or because it’s just what you do at a certain time of year. Or when you find a good sale.

Photography is something I frequently find great joy in, as do so many others.  This photograph kinda shows it perfectly, actually: you don’t even have to go find joy – it literally charges right into you. Talk about an incredible perk of the job.

finding joy, portraits, Duke Gardens, Durham, Tamara Lackey

(Shot with the Nikon D800 and Nikkor 35mm 1.4 lens)

How else do we all find joy?

My good friend Natalie Norton has been writing about happiness a lot lately, something she finds more attainable than joy.  I love her writings, and she and I have discussed these concepts at some length fairly late into the night.  

Our mutual good friend Jen Bebb has built a series of empowering programs out of the What If Conference and DayCamps, focused on helping creative entrepreneurs to live the life that really matters to them.

My dear friend Stuart Scott is focused on finding joy every day by being smart about what he doesn’t focus on, or respond to.  He’s been living with, and battling, cancer for years and, as he shares here in this heartening interview with me, he truly takes nothing for granted and he’s quite clear on his priorities.

My new friend Darren Tyler made a radical career shift and has been finding joy in caring for others.  Talk about a conduit -> he built the Conduit Mission just to give back to others, most notably in Haiti, Togo, Africa and right here in the United States, focusing on the helpless and the hurting.

In a similar vein, my friend Shannon Porter just launched a brand new non-profit to support friends, family, and villagers in the small islands of the Philippines rebuild after Typhoon Haiyan hit so hard so very recently.

Then there’s my aptly-named friend Joy Bianchi Brown, who has asked friends and family to find joy and share it using the hashtag #joycampaign – and is sending out $5 gift cards to Starbucks just for the fun of it. I’m planning to add to her giveaways to ten lucky commenters here on the blog, as you’ll see at the end of this post.

My husband, Steve Lackey, presents a series of fantastic races every year (Ramblin’ Rose Triathlons, Chapel Hill’s The Tarheel 10Miler, and Durham’s The Bull City Race Fest & Food Truck Rodeo) that bring all kinds of joy to participants – in fact, it was so clear to him and his team that these events made people happy, they just selected a new slogan for their upcoming Ramblin’ Rose events: “Bring Joy To Your World”.

And my daughter, Sophie, claps in glee each month after she sees that her donation has been accepted by the ASPCA. She sends in a combination of her allowance and proceeds from fundraising bake sales/lemonade stands and has been doing this for a while. She doesn’t feel like she’s doing “the right thing” – it just truly makes her so happy to have the opportunity to give like this.

It really seems a lot of joy is found by focusing on what you really care about and by actively giving to others.

And racing around piles of leaves before you jump into them.

finding joy, portraits, Chapel Hill, Tamara Lackey

(Shot with the Nikon D4 and Nikkor 24mm-70mm 2.8 lens)

Who else focuses on finding joy?

I’ve often enjoyed the clean, simple writing of Leo Babauta, who shares his efforts to create a personal sense of peace and joy in his popular blog, ZenHabits.

I like how minimalist Joshua Becker writes about finding joy by living more by owning less on his blog Becoming Minimalist.

I enjoy Kris Carr’s pursuit of joyful living on her Crazy Sexy Cancer (and now so much more) website.

And I’ve been writing – and sharing some great posts from others – on how to pull it all together (without losing your mind … ish) on my work/life “balance” blog All In One Life, specifically targeting those who are trying to work, live passionate lives, and care for those they love, while finding joy in the process rather than in just racing towards the outcomes.

I also delivered three programs on various subjects that all have to do with the same topic, finding joy, on creativeLIVE:

1. Work/Life Balance, This was a full-day day workshop focused on tangible ways to not just survive but to thrive in work and family life by using practical tools to achieve more peace in your every day life.

2. Health & Energy, This was two full days focused on how to care for your health and boost your energy by eating, drinking, and moving for optimal mood and energy. I was fortunate enough to be joined by some pretty impressive guest instructors:  Scott Jurek, Drew Canole, Chris Brogan, Kathleen Putnam, and Steve Kamb.

3. Relationships: The Heart of Life and Business, I kicked this intense 2-day workshop off just after finishing The Children’s (un)Posing Guide and the same audience stayed for this one. The entire course was based on how to care for the connections that honestly seem to matter to us more than anything else, and how a little focused effort – and a renewed perspective – can go a very long way in life and in business.

The big, awesome, truly unplanned surprise here was when participant and photographer Niall David nervously, so-beautifully proposed to his girlfriend (now fiance!), musician Whitney Nichole, live on air.  I absolutely loved this – and, wow, talk about JOY.


 

At the end of the day, there are more ways to find joy than there are not. And it takes about just as much energy to pursue a joyful life as it does to deny yourself one.

The whole happier ever after thing only can happen by finding joy on a day to day basis.
Here’s to knowing, no matter what, that it’s always worth the effort.

And, of course, that that’s especially true when it comes to photo bombing:

finding joy, portraits, Duke Gardens, Durham, Tamara Lackey

(Series shot with the Nikon D4 and Nikkor 85mm 1.4 lens)

 

What brings you joy?? I’d love to help Joy in her #joycampaign. Share what lights you up in the comments below, and I’ll add to Joy’s giveaways by offering additional $5 Starbucks giveaways. Since interaction and connection matter so much, I’ll choose at least ten winners over the next couple of weeks, just from the comments here.

I’d love to hear from you.

— 54 Comments

Share Your Thoughts Below…

54 responses to Finding Joy – Whenever, Wherever

  1. joyful indeed – great work Tamara !

  2. I’ve been trying to find joy by stopping myself from holding back on ‘special’ things. I try not to save my favorite outfits for days that I’m meeting friends. I will light that exquisitely smelling expensive candle and ENJOY it. I give myself permission to eat brownies for breakfast.

  3. Tamara!! I LOVE this post! You so made my day! I really needed to read this today — well, and every day. I love your comment that “At the end of the day, there are more ways to find joy than there are not. And it takes about just as much energy to pursue a joyful life as it does to deny yourself one.” Very aptly put, my dear dear friend. Let the Joy begin!

    I love you! And thank you for sharing the joy with the #joycampaign!

    • Thank you, Joy – for your intention, for your inspiration & for living out your namesake.
      Let the joy begin, AMEN!

  4. Just about everything lately brings me joy! Every second I get to spend with my amazing husband brings me joy. Seeing the world through my lens brings me joy. Being able to quit a job this month that made me majorly stressed and unhappy has brought me a lot of joy!
    Seeing others joy always brings me joy. I saw that proposal on CL, and I cried with joy for them. They look so happy and in love!
    Being able to help friends in need brings me joy. I do all that I can for a family that I know struggling with a 4 year long, devastating battle with cancer right now. It brings me joy to see that there are people who can be in the depths of something like that and still list out everything she is grateful for, every day. The last always being that she got to spend one more day with the love of her life.
    Any honest, real connection with another person in this world brings me joy and makes me grateful too.

    • That’s a lot of heart right there, Amanda. Thanks so very much for sharing – and for caring for others so well.

  5. To toss a name to the hat, I love getting Cheryl Richardson’s weekly newsletters because she always provides some positive thing to focus on. I find joy in many places, mostly photography and mostly photographing creative projects. I also find joy in cooking, blogging about it and photographing my food. Aside from photography so many things. My husband and my two amazing cats always bring me joy, my family brings me so very much joy. I treasure my time with them. Recently (within the last year or so) nature. Anything and everything nature: from rain, to clouds, to changing of the leaves, to admiring animals be, to a walk in the park. Driving also brings me joy. The list goes on but thank you so much for letting me share :) <3

    • Will definitely check out Cheryl Richardson – thanks! I also get lost in cooking and find it so therapeutic. Wonderful list : )

  6. I find great joy when I videotape the events of the Special Olympics of North Carolina. Just being with the athletes as they compete and win awards brings so much joy and happiness to my heart, it is almost overwhelming. I have been a volunteer for many years and every time I am with the athletes, all my concerns and troubles in my life disappear. I truly enjoy being in the moment and once again know how grateful I am for all the good things and people in my life.

    • That’s an incredibly joyful event, Robert. I have been a Hugger multiple times, and you’ve inspired me to bring my family out to volunteer again. It’s been too long a while.
      Heartwarming share, thanks : )

  7. I find joy in seeing others celebrate their personal victories. All too often, we squash our success in fear of being perceived as being vain or conceited. Why not celebrate those victories you worked so hard for!? You deserve it!

    I also find joy in my new found lifestyle of vegetarianism. :)

    • Like, like, like!! Celebrate the victories and cheer on those who show you how success is possible every single day.
      And give up meat ; )

  8. I’m simple. Making sure my sweetie is happy and giving HER joy makes me happy and joyous. :)

  9. Today is my 40th birthday and that gives me INCREDIBLE joy!
    Joy is meeting one of your favorite photographers and having her pose for a pic with you, (ahem Tamara and me at PPE.) hee.
    Joy is realizing, I got my grown up card today and I don’t want to give it back!

    • Happy, happy birthday, Karina!! And I’m so glad I got to met you in New York : )
      Congratulations on your grown up card – you get to use it to stop carrying about what other people think/say/might think/might say. A pretty wonderful freedom.

  10. Wow – first of all I LOVE this post – I feel like uncoil read it over and over again and fill my mind with possibility each time – fantastically inspiring :)

    What brings me joy?
    Honestly, few things bring me more joy than seeing that I brought it to someone else – to see a person smile because of something I offered them (often not more than an attempt to understand them and let them be heard ).

    It makes me feel like I matter when I can make it clear to someone that they matter. :)

    I am wayyyyy more available to “hear” others after I have had a long run so running without a time limit brings me great joy both directly and indirectly.

    Also, I really like chocolate. ;)

    • Steve – I feel lucky to see all that in you often.
      Heart icon : )

    • Oksana “Sandy” Babych November 15, 2013 at 11:56 pm

      After being in an induced sedated coma for 3 1/2 weeks I find joy in waking up each morning, even though I had to learn to walk again I am grateful to be alive. I still need my walker and wheel chair, but not for long I hope.. Now if only my hands would work, the doctor said it would take a few months to get the feeling back in my fingers. I can’t complain, God recalled me and send me back.
      Steve, I was only joking about the pork chops, I’m sorry about my weird sense of humor.
      Joy is a nice cup of tea before bedtime and time to relax and reflect (this is something your Mom taught me).
      Love you all, Siania.

      • Oksana/Sandy/Siania/Shania – QUITE joyful that you a) were sent back b) reached out.
        Truly great to hear from you, it’s been way too long.
        And I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee. Please email studio@tamaralackey.com & I”ll happily send back a gift card. I hope to buy you another cup in person sooner rather than later. Certainly hope the feeling returns to your fingers soon-soon. Enjoy that tea, relaxation & reflection: one of my favorite things to do, too.
        Much love back,
        Tamara

  11. it brings me joy when Ive made the right decisions in my path and make my daughter look up to me and want to pursue more. it makes me happy when she smiles b/c she is so proud of her mama .

  12. My greatest joy comes when something I create brings a smile to someone’s face.

  13. Hi Siania,
    Have to say, it’s inspiring to see someone find joy in the relearning of so much – humbling even.

    No worries about the pork chops – I actually really like them …just don’t like eating them ;)

  14. Our society over thinks joy. We have so much to be thankful for, it should just come naturally if we just slow down and appreciate everyone and everything around us.

    • Kimberly – I definitely think about joy/happiness a lot. I believe it’s actually more of a decision we make, a decision to be mindful enough to experience joy intentionally. In many ways, we’re not saying different things. I just don’t think it always comes that naturally to everyone to just slow down and appreciate everything – sometimes it takes practice, as odd as that may sound.
      The effort is quite worth it, but there are times joy comes only after the effort.

  15. I love this essay!! What a great pov and way to approach and see the world. Thanks for sharing.

  16. This is great! Definitely following this.
    First and foremost my Joy comes from my beautiful baby girl Adelyn Grace! She makes me want to be a better person,especially since she will follow by my example. There is huge Joy in that.
    Second would be my first Nikon DSLR! And to figuring out how to work with aperture and shutter speed and ISO! Hahaha! I was kvey excited yesterday when I concurred that! :)

  17. The joy list is endless. Waking up in the morning to experience a new day. Reading posts by Tamara Lackey, especially this one. Really, she is such a joy! And some other authors, too, of course (Jasmine Star comes to mind). Helping others with their health and nutrition, and even more when someone tells me they feel better as a result. Watching a BEAUTIFUL sunset, seeing a rainbow, and having my camera with me to capture it. Smiling at strangers and having them smile back. And most recently, following in Tamara’s footsteps and switching back to Nikon from Canon, and finding out my old manual Nikkor AI lenses will work and have focus confirmation, LOL. I should add going to the farmers market, as that’s where I’m headed now. As I said, there are endless possibilities for joy, and it’s much more fun, and healthy, then the alternatives. As I’m writing this, I keep thinking of more – seeing all the wonderful comments to your article is another reason for joy – so many good people. Thanks for this blog!

  18. Laughter. A good ‘ol belly laugh! Whether it’s from my children, myself or someone I don’t even know, the genuine sounds of laughter are the happiest of sounds. This gives me joy.

  19. As I read this blog and all the comments, I hear my 22 month old daughter singing in her crib (trying to make her take a nap), and I don’t need to think what brings me joy any more, she brings me joy, her happiness reflected in songs, screams, sweet “thank you’s”, “I love you’s” and “sorry’s” that make me melt right away. Being away from my family and friends, with just my husband and my girl, that’s all I need, that little voice of her expressing joy and innocence.

  20. My 2 year old daughter brings me joy – she is joy personified in one tiny little pocket rocket!

    Dancing………really I believe it is one of the best things for your soul – dancing on your own or with a partner (Argentine Tango is my fave)….I don’t do it enough now…but I’ve just decided to do it more!
    Your blog and your amazing photography is also truly joyful – and look how many comments you have and not one negative one among them. I’m also with Mr Lackey – chocolate brings me a whole lot of joy too.

    • Hi, Rebecca,
      Joy personified – I know that incredible feeling with my own little ones : ) Please email studio at tamara lackey dot com so I can send you a cup of coffee!

  21. What brings me joy? Joy is that sacred, yet intoxicating feeling I get when I am up late at night and everyone in our home is fast asleep in bed (even the beagle). It is that feeling I get when the door creeks open to my children’s bedrooms doors and I see them so peacefully and innocently sleeping without a care in the world (as it should be). Furthermore, as I try to quietly tip toe into bed and avoid the squeaky floorboards, I manage snuggle up to my soul mate and very best friend in the world. It is at that moment I understand what so many poets, philosophers, songwriters, and artists have described to us since the beginning of time when answering the very same question. So maybe I am just extra lucky to be surrounded by so many great people in my life and perhaps maybe that’s why I am not quite sure if I found joy or if joy simply found me. Either way, I’m not complaining.

    Thanks Tamara for making me stop and think about it!

    • “Not quite sure if I found joy of if joy simply found me” – awesome. Please email studio at tamara lackey dot com, James! Want to buy you a cup of coffee, too : )

  22. Focusing on joy and the processes toward it; I love it Tamara. You have such a way to inspire those around you. I especially love the notion that money can be used in the process of joy. I’ve wasted so many days, months, years wishing and waiting for “things” to be different. Instead of looking for the love and beauty that was surrounding me through each moment. I’m so thankful for so many aspects of my life and hope to inspire others to see the joy in right now.
    PS – I was in the chat when Niall proposed. It was the most amazing thread of consciousness I’ve ever experienced. We were collectively crying for joy.
    Heart Icon :D

  23. I love this post!!!! Joy is so simple to find if you are looking for it. I think I always find great joy when I see the connection between my kids and my husband…the giggles and the belly laughs. Nothing brings me more JOY!!!!!!!

  24. I’m finding my joy in the true love that only a strong marriage can support. Not Happily Ever After fairytale true love but the love that sustains more than a decade of hard work. Loving and working through the “I can’t stand to be around you” and the “best-friend” stages to get to the peace/joy of “we will endure” and “I would never want to be without you” stages.
    Thank you for this beautifully joy-ous essay!

    • So Well Said, Jen! I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee : ) Can you email studio at tamara lackey dot come so I can send you the goodness?

    • Funny, I was thinking about your answer more. I think it’s very true for marriage, no doubt – but also for any hard-won long-term relationship that clearly matters to you both enough to sustain, and build up, over the long haul. Like adult child-parent relationships, best friendships, any sort of togetherness, really.
      Great thoughts, thank you.

  25. Joy is a funny thing. It seems we are always chasing it like a school girl with a mad crush. The second I stopped looking for joy, it found me. I find it in the matchbox cars lined up in the living room. I find it in simple, homemade, delicious food cooking on the stove. I find it in the morning sun that comes streaming into my house like gold, in my quietly napping cat, and my sweet and loyal dog’s big brown eyes. For me, joy is always hiding behind the simple things in life where you would least expect to find it. Thanks for reminding me to look for it all over again!

  26. What brings me joy is the adorable looks of anticipation in my children as they think of all of the fun that our family takes the time to make together during the holidays. Simple things like sledding and hot cocoa, and playing board games together.

  27. I wake up and go to bed with joy every day! All I have to do is look at my family and live in the moment with them.

  28. I’m finding so much joy these days in the thought of our precious child, whom we have yet to meet, who will be added to our family and loved as our very own. To give a life of security and unconditional love to a child who may not otherwise get that… Adoption is beautiful and to me it is joy.

    • That makes all of me smile, Rachael – adoption is near & dear to my heart, and I so love that you’re building your family this way, too. Please email studio at tamara lackey dot com, so I can send you a cup of coffee to drink while you daydream about your unmet but already-loved child : )

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  1. Finding Joy | A Photographer's Wife - blog of Taryn Langemann - November 18, 2013

    […] friend posted a link to an article the other day about finding joy, and I have to say it made me stop and take a moment to truly recognize the joy I have in my […]

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