Ki Moments Blog

Support for life’s “key” moments.

April 1, 2022

Finding Joy in Difficult Times: Being Intentional

Finding Joy in Difficult Times: Being Intentional

I introduced last month's Ki Moments post, "Love's In Need of Love Today," saying I can see love everywhere if I look for it. I feel the same this month about finding joy.

While I'm sometimes happily and luckily surprised by joy (a butterfly floats by, my crocuses are coming up!) it seems that lately I have to make a more conscious effort.

One Small Step

One of these conscious efforts happened recently. I came across an initiative called One Small Step. Their parent organization, StoryCorps, was featured in January on 60 Minutes and is often on National Public Radio. 

The One Small Step initiative invites people from different beliefs--political, religious, etc.--to engage in a 50-minute conversation. It can be in person or virtual, and the conversation partners can be people who know each other or not.

I signed up to have a conversation with a person I'd never met. I wasn’t surprised by how much we had in common, since I believe we humans have so much more in common than we think. But I was a little surprised by the fact that we didn’t get around to talking about the hard stuff until the very end.

The facilitator helped by asking if there was anything we wanted to discuss that we hadn't, since we both indicated in our pre-conversation questionnaire that we wanted to talk with someone who had views different from our own. Once again I wasn't surprised when after learning about each other's similarities, this last part of the dialogue went so well. After all, we had become friends. We asked questions, listened, stayed curious, clarified, and eventually wrapped things up by offering to stay in touch.

If you've never done anything like this--have a conversation (a learning conversation, not an argument) with someone who may think or believe differently from you, I recommend One Small Step. It's easy, free, and facilitated by kind, skilled people.

Being Intentional

Meanwhile, I continue to be surprised by joy--and to find joy by being intentional about it. It's harder than I'd like some days. Reading the headlines makes me sad and often angry. I wonder about being happy when so many are hurting, dying and in danger. I believe that my joy in no way disrespects this fact, and that being more intentional about my positive emotions may help me to be present for others in stress, grief, or pain. 

Positive emotions--joy, happiness, gratitude, hope, inspiration--have been linked directly to better health, including a stronger immune response, lower blood pressure, and a reduction in stress.

Being intentional about positive emotions can cover a lot of different paths. Here are a few of mine:

  • Finding love and joy in other people--relating to their positive intention and emotions
  • Limiting the amount of news I take in each day
  • Taking a few minutes when I wake to go over all I'm grateful for
  • Watching movies and reading books that inspire and make me happy
  • Getting physical exercise every day--the kind I enjoy doing
  • Hugs
  • Trees
  • A cup of tea
  • Writing and teaching
  • Talking with my sisters, my brother
  • Going out for dinner
  • Walking in nature or my neighborhood
  • Supporting friends and family

The older I get, the more I want to be part of the solution, and so I look for ways to figure out what that actually means. I took a chance with the One Small Step experience and felt joy afterwards. I will take more chances.

When you get a chance visit one of these two websites, play some of their short videos, and find out how some folks in this world are making a difference. It may bring you joy today.

Meanwhile, here's some good ki!

Interior photos are from Take One Small Step website

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