Week Three of Advent focuses on the theme of Joy.  Joy is an emotion we might not think about too often.  It is often associated with special events; it is important to cherish these Joyful experiences, which can lift our spirits in the moment, and provide lasting memories, bringing us reminiscent Joy in the future. 

Christmas can be a time for Joy; seasonal decorations strung across shop fronts and main streets, Christmas trees adorned with twinkling lights and baubles, Festive tunes and Christmas Carols can all provide a Joyful backdrop, but unless we make space for Joy it might not find its way into our lives. 

As Week Three of advent invites us to feel Joyful, here are some ways we can find our own moments of Joy this Christmas. 

Slow down, notice, and enjoy

There is something special about the lights, colours, sounds, and smells of Christmastime.  They can bring us Joy because they help to invigorate our senses, and in-so-doing create positive emotions. When Christmas comes, as it often does, at the same time as work and other personal commitments, we can end up approaching these activities as if they are chores to be ticked off our list.  

The challenges of Covid this year have forced many of us to change our traditional advent habits, but this too is offering us an opportunity to slow down and take stock, allowing the natural Joy of these festive moments to enrich our lives.  Consider slowing down this week, working through the Christmas list more deliberately, and mindfully.  

Allow space for the spontaneous Joy that Christmas can ignite.  Perhaps bumping into old friends, or simply friends we haven’t seen in a while, connecting digitally, or a physically distanced chat on the street, something we took for granted in the past, with might bring some spontaneous Joy to our advent.  This can help us connect with the Joyful spirit of Christmas, and bring Joy to others, as we slow down even as things feel busy.

Joy as a resource

We often spend more time focused on worries and concerns, than we do on Joy and simple appreciations.  Whether in the current moment, or through memories of Joyous moments in the past, Joy can be an incredibly rich resource.  It is full of positivity, fun, excitement, and enriching emotions that can nourish our mental and emotional wellbeing. 

For some Christmas can be tough, and the expectation that it should feel like a time for Joy can feel disheartening, and bring up difficult emotions. It might not be possible to feel joy all the time, but feeling it even occasionally can help enrich our wellbeing, and support our resilience reserves.

Look for Joy in every day moments

This year has been particularly challenging for everyone, and perhaps the usual festivities and Christmas rituals might not be bringing the Joy they once did. Remembering that Joy can be found in simple, everyday moments can take the pressure off trying to find Joy in Christmas traditions and festive events.  

Think about Joy this week as something that can be found in the everyday, and make a mental note to include it on your list of supports and resources, for Christmas and beyond.  Getting out and about for a few minutes every day, making time for a favourite hobby, or sharing a moment with a friend or neighbour, can be both enriching and Joyous.  We might not consider these to be big moments of Joy, but sometimes it is the simple everyday pleasures, often overlooked, that can provide us with the best form of Joy. 

A final thought…

Slowing down to enjoy festive moments, appreciating ordinary moments, and thinking about Joy as a resource gives us an opportunity to experience Joy this advent.  Joy is an emotion we might not always think about, but it can be of benefit to our overall wellbeing.  It may not be possible to feel Joy throughout Christmas this year, but appreciating our many everyday achievements, and simple experiences of enjoyment, can bring us moments of Joy this advent, and beyond. 

This post featured as an article in The Midland Tribune on 17th December 2020.