Alberta Lawyers' Assistance Society

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Do you ever think about what brings you joy?
Most of us, certainly over the course of the pandemic and lockdowns, would have been happy to aim for contentment. And maybe even happiness as we began to get out in the world again. But joy? Pure unbridled joy?
Many of my memories of joy are related to childhood. Life was simpler and we weren’t bogged down in details like paying our bills or recording our time. We lived in the moment, and it was good. When I was a child in the later 1960’s/early 1970’s we were very free range. We could ride our bikes just over twenty blocks and be in what we considered “the country.” There were fields, and no houses, and no fences. We didn’t worry that we would be in trouble when we got home—this was the kind of adventure our parents expected us to be engaging in, and they didn’t worry about whether we would come home safely as long we were back by dinner time.
Once we were out in the country, there were sloughs (that we called “lakes”) and there were hundreds of what we called gophers (Richardson’s Ground Squirrels in fact). Frequently, our missions outside of the city limits involved trying to catch gophers, unsuccessfully, and frogs (occasionally successful.) We proudly brought our frogs home and created little habitats for them. The fact that they didn’t live very long didn’t dampen our joy.
Do you remember doing things as a child that brought joy?
As adults, we rarely think we are entitled to joy, and we may not even be aware that joy exists. But joy is a distinct emotion among other emotions in the positivity sphere including gratitude, contentment, and interest. Researchers have concluded that joy comes from connection, strengthening our social bonds. One typical example is reunions with people we care about but haven’t seen for periods of time. They say that joy reflects connection to something we long or hope for. Joy also relates to something we don’t think we can have or something we don’t think we deserve.
I guess my childhood example shows social connection—we didn’t go out to the “country” by ourselves. And we wanted to be reunited with the gophers we unsuccessfully chased. I think joy may be a bit simpler for kids.

Joy is also connected to gratitude in a cycle. When we feel joy, we are grateful, and feeling grateful enhances our ability to feel joy.
There is a clear connection between joy and well-being, and feeling joy predicts enhanced positive feelings over time.
How do we get more joy in our lives? According to one psychologist, there are non-negotiable habits we can develop which will set us up to experience joy:

  • Committing to a healthy lifestyle
  • Prioritizing time for yourself and your needs/self-care
  • Replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts
  • Having a circle of positive, supporting, and loving people
  • Expressing gratitude daily
  • Taking responsibility for your own life
  • Maintaining a beginner’s mind (be open to learning)
  • Practicing forgiveness
  • Stopping caring what other people think of you.

These are all strategies Assist has recommended before and if they are the precursors for feeling joy or feeling joy more frequently, even better!
And if joy is the secret sauce that can result from wellbeing habits when exposed to positive experiences, I am all in.
Today, Assist’s Doubling Down with Gratitude Silent Auction opens. There are many items in the Silent Auction that fill me with joy—we are not all the same—and I have been excitedly waiting to bid on some. I bid on about four as soon as the auction opened, and right after Eileen bid on a piece of art which is currently sitting in her office. It gives her so much joy that she wants to make it permanent.
What did I bid on?
My first was tickets—third row on the floor—to see Bryan Adams. I have seen him before, and his show is energetic and excellent. It brings joy (and I didn’t think I was that big a Bryan Adams fan before that first show!) I was promptly outbid by new auction nemesis (you know who you are!) and I am going to wait in the weeds for a little bit. But we also have tickets for the Edmonton Symphony and the Calgary Philharmonic as well as some really cool theatre events.
My second bid was on the diamond ring from Troy Shoppe Jewellers. That’s my hand modelling the ring. It happens to be my size…. But Troy Shoppe Jewellers will size the ring if someone else outbids me. The colours in it bring me joy, running in a pastel rainbow of hues.
My third bid was on one of my donated items—a private class at my fitness studio. About six years ago, a friend invited me to a barre class. I had tried many different fitness programs, but barre somehow worked for me—I felt like I was connecting to something meaningful to me through the program and through the warmth and caring attitude of the studio. It truly is my happy place—and I drive across the city to get there. I have a membership and can go anytime by myself (which I highly recommend!) but I love the idea of inviting friends to a private class. The private class can be barre, Pilates, or strength classes that use ten-pound weights for an hour. You won’t see me at that one. You do you. I do me. The world is in sync, and the barre studio is my happy place.
I am very excited about a couple of items that haven’t landed on the website yet—keep your eyes open and your bidding fingers ready.
The Princess Bride basket, Kitty Loving basket, amazing artwork, restaurants, outdoor activities... So many items. How to choose?
I am considering bidding on the fly-fishing river float for a friend—as long as I don’t have to go. It would make a wonderful present.
And when I take myself out of looking at what might bring me joy, and think about buying gifts for others, I feel even better.
Thank you to all of our wonderful sponsors and donors—I am so very grateful that you have delivered tangible support to Assist.
And I can’t wait to hear what items are bringing you joy, whether it is something that would make you feel special (it is okay if material items bring you joy!) or that connects you with people and activities you love. Feel joy and support Assist—it doesn’t get much better than that.