Finding Joy in Unexpected Places

Explore James' Teachings and Insights on All Things Spiritual

Finding Joy in Unexpected Places

Apr 6, 2018 | JVP's Blog

Objects we ardently pursue bring little happiness when gained; most of our pleasures come from unexpected sources.

Herbert Spencer


I’ve found that happiness often comes when we stop trying so hard, let go of expectations, and stay mindful and open to enjoying life’s pleasant surprises.

I was reminded of this recently while traveling.  I checked into a hotel, and when I pulled open the drapes, I was a little dismayed by the view.  My room overlooked the rooftop of a building under construction – there were workmen, noisy machinery and dust and debris everywhere! I didn’t have much time to think about it as I hurried off to meet some friends for dinner. The next morning I opened my laptop to take care of a few things before breakfast. I glanced out the window and was distracted by the sight a giant crane maneuvering a huge structure into place on the roof beside my hotel. I didn’t even notice the dust or noise as I spent 20 minutes marveling at the skills of the crane operator. Time melted away, and I could hear the little boy in me saying “This is the best view ever!”

The experience reminded me of how the small, unexpected things can give us the most joy!

Here are some tips to help you enjoy more mindful, happy moments:

  • Tap into your inner child. A friend’s child was visiting our home a while ago, and was totally absorbed and happy to putter around our fishpond with a paper cup. As I watched him playing in the water I realized that he was fully in the moment –requiring nothing more complicated than the sun on his back and the water gurgling in the pond to be content. You can experience that same mindful bliss – just remember the simple things you loved as a child and give yourself permission to experience them now.
  • Try my 5 Senses Trick. When your mind is always skipping to the next item on your list, you run the risk of missing out on the beauty all around you. You can get mindful in an instant with this simple trick. Stop and consciously relax your shoulders and the muscles in your face. Close your eyes and slowly inhale for 8 seconds, focusing only on your breath, then hold the breath for 4 counts, and exhale for 8 counts. Repeat a few times until you feel calm, then do a “5 Senses Review.” Tune into your surroundings by counting down the senses – what do you see, hear, smell, feel and taste right now? Appreciate what you perceive with each of your senses fully before moving on with your day.
  • Shift your perspective. You’ve heard this before, but it’s so important! Your thoughts have power. Instead of grumbling to yourself about how busy you are with work or family obligations, appreciate that you are capable of handling these tasks. Think of things to be grateful for – your partner, children, and/or pets who love you – or your job, home, and health. To invite more joy, make gratitude a habit!
  • Make every ordinary day a “stay-cation.” People who attend my events often tell me “I waited all year for this weekend!” I love to hear that, but I always encourage them to make all 52 weeks of the year magical by practicing mindfulness, kindness and self-care.

Treat yourself. Now that you know my secrets to unexpected joy and happiness every day, don’t be afraid to do something special for yourself once in a while. I’m putting together a fabulous retreat in Cancun, Mexico March 1-6 of 2019. I promise – this event will nourish your mind, body and soul as I reveal more secrets to manifesting joy and abundance beyond your wildest dreams!