There are times in life when things seem ordinary, when every day feels like Groundhog Day. Instead of letting the humdrum get us down, there are ways we can find joy in the ordinary.
What is Joy?
Joy is defined as a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. We’re not talking contentment here. We’re talking great pleasure, not a tepid smile.
What is Ordinary?
Ordinary is something that lacks special or distinctive features. It’s when there’s nothing obviously special to make one day stand out from another.
Find Joy in the Ordinary
So how can we find joy in the ordinary? Here are 7 ways.
1. Watch things grow
The first way you can start to find joy in the ordinary is to start paying attention to how nature ebbs and flows. Your daily schedule might seem ordinary, but if you step outside and take a look at what Mother Nature is up to, you can start to find some simple pleasure.
I planted a garden this spring and check on what’s sprouting at least three times a day. You can take a walk and notice how trees are blossoming or put a potato in a glass of water to watch it sprout.
Instead of every day being the same, now you can mark the passage of time by noticing how the natural world is constantly changing.
Same goes for watching things die and decompose. Keep a compost pile and marvel at how nature slowly and steadily takes back what used to be alive.
2. Notice things changing
Beyond the natural world, you can also try to notice how other things change to start to find joy in the ordinary. Be on the lookout for things that are ever so slightly different today compared with yesterday.
Pay attention to the little things. Did the neighbors repave their driveway? Does your mother-in-law have a new haircut?
If life is starting to feel ordinary, you may need to pay closer attention to start noticing the little things.
3. Be of service
Instead of just sitting around and waiting for life to be extraordinary, you need to get in the driver’s seat to start to find joy in the ordinary. Seek joy from trying to make things better for yourself, your loved ones, your community, and the world.
Volunteer at a food bank. Donate to a cause you believe in. Join the school board. Gather signatures. Make phone calls for a candidate you support. Teach your children something. In short, be the change.
Studies have shown that we derive joy from altruism. Plus, it has the side-effect of actually making our world more like the one we want to live in anyway. Helping others is a double win.
In addition to making things better, try taking on a nurturing role to find joy in the ordinary.
Instead of forcing yourself to cook dinner or being annoyed about folding laundry, change your perspective and get jazzed about nurturing.
Bake a special dessert for your family. Do laundry with your children. Have a fun pizza night where everyone joins together to make dinner.
Stop thinking about chores as chores, and start embracing the joy of caring for each other. These can be acts of love and community.
5. Do things differently
If things are feeling too ordinary to be joyful, do things differently. Bike to work instead of driving. Reward yourself for a job well done. Try to inject some fun into your Monday stand-ups.
Try shaking it up to find joy in the ordinary.
6. Embrace your childlike wonder
Children know how to find joy in the ordinary, so if all else fails, do what they do. Get curious and excited about the magic of the mundane.
My daughter played with toilet paper roll binoculars for three hours this morning because she still has her childlike wonder in tact. She shared them with her stuffed animal and spent a long time staring at her own hand through the binoculars.
Try to get out of your head and notice cool things all around you. Rocks are cool. Trees are cool. Flowers are cool. There are things all over your house that are completely cool. You just need to start paying more attention to the world around you than the worries in your head.
I know it’s easier said than done, but here are some everyday games that will help you do just that.
7. Make it a game
The last way to find joy in the ordinary is to start making things a game. Add points or a timer to make even the most mundane tasks more enjoyable.
The laundry race, the cleanest basement contest, or the get to work without making a left turn are all examples of gamifying your everyday mundanity.
I’ve also created over 100 everyday games based on my improv research that you can play to start finding more joy in your life.
Sure, life can feel boring at times. It can feel like we’re doing the same thing day in and day out, but there’s no reason we have to accept that. We can add some joy into our ordinary lives by laughing more, connecting with others, and appreciating the simple things.
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If you want to find joy in the ordinary, you’d better open your eyes, get altruistic, and start having more fun today.