As a wellbeing writer I spend a lot of time thinking about joy. What it means, how we find it and hold onto it, and how important it is. I think a lot of us sandwich our lives between work and home and put off happiness till some future date, only it doesn’t really work that way.
One of the things that brings me great joy is my writing. I love creating a magical world where I get to visit, shut the doors and keep the world out for a while. Writing The Postcard was an act of joy the entire time. Reading brings the same joy for me too. Reality can get a bit much for me, and I love nothing better than finding a new book to love.
One of the things that I’ve realised about joy though is that it’s not about the big things. I’ve been on wonderful holidays, travelled to incredible places and found happiness in these things but they don’t fill you up when you’re stuck in the daily grind. With a full-time job as a journalist and writing novels, which for now I have to make do with writing in the margins of the day, life can get a bit hectic, and I forget to take time out and recharge.
It’s the little things that often cause that real, deep-seated happiness I’ve found. I had this revelation last Sunday I just spent the day reading, my bulldog for company, my husband was pottering about in the house and we had no other plans scheduled for the day, it was bliss. I’m really not someone who enjoys loud parties or groups larger than six, four is often better! I once interviewed a well-known South African fashion designer who put it perfectly, she said, “I’m an extrovert in intimate surroundings.” Which is true for me as well.
I’ve been trying to bring in a bit more of that joy into my week too – something of that bliss I found on Sunday, to avoid living too much for the weekend, which I’m very guilty of. I bought flowers for my desk at the office which brightens it up considerably, painted my nails a really fun colour that makes me smile and made the decision to mostly give up the TV at night in favour of reading, it’s incredible what a difference the last change has made. I’ve always read at night anyway but since I got married I tend to read mostly just before I go to bed. Having almost four hours now just to read, after writing, editing and everything else is just sheer bliss.
I just finished Agatha Christie’s autobiography and have started on the second book in Charlie Holmberg’s Paper Magician trilogy, The Glass Magician. If you like fantasy with a bit of romance you’ll enjoy this. It’s really lovely, very different.
I think we so often forget that the things that make us happy are often the same things that brought us joy as children. For me that was make-believe and reading. It hasn’t changed. I’m sure I’ll be uncovering more things to add to my pursuit of joy, but for now, the best lesson is that it’s really the simple things that add the most.
Even so, I’d still love to go somewhere for a year, and just read … somewhere with a secret garden, a moonlit beach and wine flowing from the taps. Next to a dog sanctuary. What brings you joy? I’d love to hear.