Joy by Nicki Anderson - DuPage Children's Museum

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Joy by Nicki Anderson

December 15, 2021


By Nicki Anderson, Creator and Director of L.E.A.D.S.

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.”  M. Williamson

Have you ever engaged in conversation with someone who said, “I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop!” In other words, they don’t believe that a good thing can last. I’ve always struggled with those that seek out the rain clouds when the sun is shining. The belief that “it’s too good to be true” can actually rob us of much needed and well-deserved joy. 

According to the online version of Merriam-Webster, joy is a state of happiness, a source or cause of delight. Sadly, as we develop our “adult eyes” we tend to see more of the negative in our world. When that happens, joy fades. As joy fades, it is replaced with cynicism, fear, and in some cases, despair.  

Although I tend to be a pretty joy-filled person, it wasn’t until I had grandchildren that I realized the real power of joy. Joy it turns out, is not only available to all, but also catching! Who knew? As a grandparent, I now have the time to sit and watch my grandchildren and share in their joy. Their ability to just be in the moment without pause or effort is inspiring. They marvel at the smallest of things because for them, joy naturally takes center stage.

How does the joy children experience translate to adults?

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. Being in the moment. It’s a real thing. Paying full attention to areas of fun, laughter, peace is mood altering. That’s what joy does. I try to look at things through the eyes of my grandchildren. For example, when I see bees buzzing around my garden it’s just bees, I don’t give it much thought. But my grandchildren will note how they fly, where they fly, how they dig their way deep into flowers in an effort to get the nectar and pollen they need. Turns out when we pay attention, the miracle of nature generates joy. 
  2. Give joy center stage. When you find yourself getting in a negative mind set, find the silver lining. The idea of seeking out the good versus the bad in situations makes it easier to be joyful. As shared earlier, try not to search for the rain clouds when the sun is shining.  
  3. Laugh more. If there’s one thing that can take a blah day to a joy filled day, it’s my grandchildren’s laughter. Their laughter is so deep and so real that I can’t help but join in. Turns out laughter, like joy, is contagious! 
  4. Volunteer. Study after study shows the impact of giving back. Acts of kindness result in feeling more positive, more joyful. 

Sometimes we confuse joy with happiness. Joy runs much deeper. It’s a longer lasting state that leaves us feeling more peaceful and content. Happiness comes in spurts and tends to be less intense. Joy also tends to be more challenging to nurture. If you’re able to connect more frequently to the things that bring you joy, the easier it gets. Even in the most challenging of times, if you can find a way to connect with joy it brings about hope, and where there’s hope there are endless possibilities. Here’s to joy!

About Nicki

Nicki Anderson is the Creator and Director of L.E.A.D.S., an undergraduate leadership program for women at Benedictine University. She resides in Naperville with her husband Bill. They have four grown children and two grandchildren all of whom bring her much joy.