Creating Joy in My Life, by Larkin Oates

Life of JoyCreating Joy in My Life by Writing Lists.

What if you woke up one day and realized you are the person you’ve always wanted to be. And, you are also living with the joy in life as you envisioned?

Driving home from work recently, as I enjoyed the sunlight and music on the radio, I had an a-ha moment.

I am living the life, and have become the woman I have always wanted to be. Astonishing. For all of life’s glitches or curves in the road, I live in a home I love, have a great community, and I have great joy doing what energizes me.

My practice of keeping lists of ‘things that make me happy,’ may have contributed. I have always kept these lists in my journals as quick references for times when I felt down.

When I lead collage workshops, I often ask attendees to create a sort of vision board. They quickly flip through magazines and tear out  images that make them happy. Next, they glue their pictures to a piece of paper or poster board. At home later, they can hang the collage where it can be seen and visually uplift their environment.

Photo of the Isle of Palms, SC by Larkin Oates

Sometimes, I ask people to list the things that bring them joy. Then, I ask how those elements might be brought into their home and life (at low-cost) and more frequently. For instance, since I love the beach, I painted my den a turquoise like a beach cottage.  Another home improvement project can be as simple as hanging a beach picture prominently on the wall or sleeping with a sound of ocean waves from a sound machine. Or, since I love flowers but have not had a green thumb, I photograph flowers, and I hang pictures of flowers.

 Spring Crocuses, photo by Larkin Oates

I credit the book Cancer As A Turning Point, by LeShan, for its role. One of the book’s early exercises essentially asks the reader to list what brings them joy, what stands in the way, and how can they make it happen.

Over the years I keep listing these joyful, calming, and uplifting things. Collages, of things that make me happy are throughout my home. My den walls are a light sea-foam teal, and my bedroom was painted a sunny daffodil yellow. I also have the sweetest old lady yellow Labrador that gives me a deep sense of belonging and love.

One could ask the chicken or the egg question, do I have joyful visions, and/or do I help create that for myself. In either case, my home is colorful and I feel grateful for the many gifts in my life.

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