“Pleasure is always derived from something outside of you,
where as joy arises from within.”
As a general rule, I don’t take life too seriously. I am very much at home with the absurd and the foolish. Tell me I don’t act my age and I’ll wear it as a badge of honor. As my wife likes to say, I have never fully grown up. Of course, I don’t think she means it as a compliment.
It’s tough to live with Peter Pan, especially when he’s 58.
However, for all my lightness, I can just as quickly turn serious, and before I know it, I have the whole world on my shoulders.
All 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilograms of it.
That’s a lot of weight for a guy who can’t lift the light end of a dresser.
I suspect I’m not the only wannabe Atlas who thinks he can carry the world and all its problems on his back. We’re a serious planet, and we have the furrowed brows to prove it, as well as the six o’clock news to remind us that there is much to be serious about. And not just rogue nations, terrorist attacks, or violence on our streets, but all those extra stones we put in our pockets the older we get, like whether we will have enough money for the future, or what will happen if we become seriously ill, or if we have no one to take care of us. What if we lose someone we love? If we’re left alone?
Ice cream, anybody?
Yes, it’s a lot of weight and worry to carry on our backs, certainly enough to make you want to crawl back into bed. And while this seriousness can strike at any age, we become more susceptible to it the older we get. And while it makes sense to treat the challenges of life with the serious tone they deserve, we can’t allow the seriousness of life to turn us into serious people.
And no one is naive here. We all know how dark and heavy the world can be. Terrorists are busy at work. Drunks do drive. Cancer cells will grow. And there will always be the next hurricane or crash in the stock market. And it’s very well possible that you or I might be one bad cough away from an illness that will lead us to living in a van down by the river. Just the same, we must resist the temptation to let that seriousness turn us into something we’re not.
Stay serious long enough and eventually we start looking for things to be serious about, and before we know it, we’re not just seeing the glass half empty, we’re looking for E. coli.
We start believing that life is all about gloom and doom instead of light and joy.
Of course, we can’t let that happen—not here at Oxygen Buzz. We need to fight the seriousness of life and reclaim our joy. Today. Now. And to help you on your way, here are 7 joy worthy tips.
1. Turn off the news
CNN, New York Times, FOX, BBC, your Uncle Louie. Give them all the week off, or at least a couple of days once in awhile. You don't need to be up-to-date all the time. You aren’t less of a person. Nobody will judge you. The pearly gates will still open.
2. Avoid the bearer of bad news
We all know that guy who can’t wait to be the first to tell you that the stock market crashed, or that Mary Tyler Moore died, or how many people are getting shingles these days. And the good ones will be convincing, coming at you with charts and photos. Don’t be tempted. Turn the flashlight on their vampire eyes and run. They’ll suck the joy right out of your veins. You know who they are, right?
3. Seek out positive people
My wife and I had this friend who died happily at 89 years. She will be remembered for many good things. The greatest perhaps is her uncanny ability to make you feel special. Anytime you did something out of the ordinary, she’d say, “A win for you, Bill, is a win for all of us.” Such wise and beautiful words, on so many levels. As joy-seekers, make it your mission to find individuals who encourage you and want you to succeed. People who walk into your life with flowers and stories of hope, inspiration, and insight.
4. Don’t make mountains out of molehills
While nobody can turn an itch into a rash, or a sniffle into pneumonia like I can, let’s be honest, I’m not alone. Many of us become overly serious simply because we allow our imaginations to get the best of us. We “worst-case scenario” ourselves into anxiety. Life is tough enough on its own. We must resist the knee-jerk temptation to blow the small and inconsequential struggles we face out of proportion. And while we’re at it, let’s see how many truly serious things we can start to downplay—not ignore—but reframe into something positive. Reframing our challenging experiences is the hidden door to finding the joy we never imagined.
5. See joy in the present moment
Living in the present moment is the only thing that will bring you lasting joy. The present moment is the real you—your breath, your center, your immortality, which is why every prophet and saint from the beginning of time has written about its power and mystery. Engage in activities that allow you to experience this present moment awareness. Deep breathing exercises work, as will meditation, yoga, gardening, reading, swimming, running; a walk in the woods, a bike ride at the beach. Nature helps, so does humor, volunteering, gratitude, compassion, and doing virtually anything that brings you joy.
6. Extra bumps of joy (pick at least 2)
- Take time to whistle, hum, and skip. Sing in the shower. More cowbell.
- Honor your body, even as it fails you (especially as it fails you).
- Don’t be so stingy with your compliments.
- Laugh at yourself (and your seriousness). Some of it really is funny.
- Go out of your way to surprise someone. Delight and amuse.
- Help something grow. Flowers in the garden. Chia Pets. Your own pot farm.
- Say I Love You as often as you say Thank You.
7. Seek meaning and growth
“For happiness one needs security, but joy can spring like a flower even from the cliffs of despair.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
At Oxygen Buzz we believe the sooner we realize that there is a greater purpose in the world, even the darker parts, the sooner we can let go of the seriousness of life and go out for ice cream. This requires a brave and artistic touch—one that involves using pain and struggle as a doorway to find meaning and personal growth.
It won’t make you suddenly feel like doing naked cartwheels on the grass, or make your road any less challenging, but it will strengthen you with a resolve that comes from knowing that your struggles can lead to an even deeper form of joy—the kind of joy that comes from understanding who you are and why you’re here on earth.
Regardless of how the world around you reacts or what others will have you believe, it is possible to live in a serious and scary world and still know joy. It is possible to feel pain and heartache and still know joy. Unlike fleeting happiness, which comes and goes with the events in our lives, joy is always present. It lives inside each of us—a lightness of being that is waiting to be revealed, expressed, and shared.
So, find your joy. Put a little buzz into your life.
You’ll make the world a better place.
I love your 7 worthy tips. Am definitely going to try some of them, hoping to do more than two??
Two will want to make you do three! And so it goes. Welcome to the journey, Tina!
Great article, Bill. For more positivity, I suggest you take a look at the late Hans Rosling’s new book, Factfulness, or go to his website at gapminder.org for a great overview of how the world and humanity is getting better all the time (no affiliation – just something I’ve been reading and wanted to share).
“Humanity getting better all the time.” What a wonderful line. And I will definitely check it out. Thanks for sharing.
I love this: “A win for you, Bill, is a win for all of us.” What a great thing to say…and to mean. I am adopting this one TODAY.
Another beautifully written piece of wisdom. Thank you for sharing your heart and your humor with us, Bill! I look forward to reading Oxygen Buzz every week! -Leslie
We’ll adopt that one together…true on so many levels. Thanks Leslie for sharing the site as well. It is greatly appreciated.
Your wisdom is beyond your years. What a gift to share with everyone. Your style is refreshing, soothing and comforting!
Keep up the good work!
Spoken like a real mom! And the perfect example of a woman who is always searching! Thanks!
Bill, a year ago I lost my daughter to cancer and 7 months after her death I lost my husband to cancer. I can’t get passed it – I exercise, go out with friends, attend Church and love God. When I come home and am alone, I am constantly sad. Do you have any advice on how I can get passed this? Thanks for listening. Sheri
Sara, I’m so sorry for your loss. I can only imagine how alone you must now feel—as if you’re the only person on the planet. As if joy were a million miles away. If you’d like, please reach out to me via the contact section of the site and we can talk further via email.
I have never followed a blog in my 58+ years but have found myself looking forward to each and every new post on Oxygen Buzz. You’ve done a great job interlacing humor with the stark realities of “maturing” in an uplifting way that makes me smile. I absolutely love the positive energy and the hilarious references that make your sage advice so relatable.
Keep your great posts and commentaries coming
Thanks for your support. I hope that you will tell your friends and family about oxygenbuzz.com and that they will find it as interesting and uplifting as you do!
This information in this blog is as enlightening as it is informative! Written with humor and humility , you give us a soft place to land after 50. Thanks for coming into my world!
Thank you for coming into our world! We hope that you are continually inspired by our site and that you let your friends and family know about oxygenbuzz.com!