One day, a thought came into my head: write a Book of Joy! The title sounded so enticing. The idea started to develop in my head.
Soon, I bought a new journal book. Along with it, I bought some stickers. I was not someone who had any previous interest in stickers. But Book of Joy inspired me to add more visual images, and I came to realize that different styles of stickers conveyed different moods, and soon I was shopping online and offline for more varieties of stickers.
As I began writing all the joys I had throughout each day, I started to add colors to my journal. At first, it was simply shading the margins, underlining certain key words with colors, but later, I started to draw simple images that denoted my emotions. I was not someone who could draw, so I learned to draw, briefly, and managed to transfer all my emotions onto the drawing. Then I would color it with pencil crayons and markers. It was slowly turning into an art journal, so beautiful and lovely!
Not only was the end result visually appealing, but the process of creating each page was also very joyful. Immersing myself in that creation process was definitely therapeutic!
On certain days when nothing good seemed to be happening, I tried to include other positive emotions such as feelings of awe, curiosity, peace, contentment, gratitude, loveliness, sweetness, etc. As well, I would zoom in on the slightest sign of a positive emotion, no matter how faint it might be. And even if that wasn’t quite possible, I would review my entire day, and ask myself, “Can I see it in a more positive light?” And usually that helped me shift my perspective a little. Yes, just a little, and it’s enough. I could magnify any tiny positive emotion, and by the time it was transferred onto the page, its intensity would have increased quite significantly to make my day worth recounting.
Thus far in my writing process, I have noticed the following benefits:
1) I become more neurologically biased toward positive emotions, and sometimes my positive perspective helps to lift others’ mood too.
2) Starting a project with joy will amplify the joy during the process as my attention and effort intensify the originating emotion behind the project.
3) The habit and tendency of experiencing life in a more positive light has the effect of minimizing the negativities I encounter throughout my days, and with more practice, the negativities become background noise, or nuisance. This helps me to meet my daily demands with greater ease and grace, making my days less stressful, and overall improve my mental hygiene, which extends to improve my immunity.
4) I become more mindful of my moods throughout the day. Some days, I would question myself why I am feeling this way, what happened to make me feel this way, etc. Being more connected with my emotions helps me to identify and meet my emotional needs.
5) Including other positive emotions in my journal has been very helpful in making me more cognizant and perceptive of the whole range of positive emotions, as well as the nuances within each emotion. For example, I experience the different shades of joy as ecstasy, euphoria, excitement, joy, pleasantness, etc. The more intense emotions like euphoria do not last as long, and their intensity quickly fades so euphoria becomes joy then becomes pleasantness which tends to linger in the background for a while, bleeding through to other events and situations.
6) By tracking the different emotions and the different shades of emotions, I become more perceptive and communicative of my emotional state. I am sure this skill will be very helpful in improving the quality of an intimate relationship.
7) Aside from developing a heightened awareness at the emotional level, I have also learned of its relationship to the physical level, mental level, and spiritual level. For example, when I am in no mood to do anything, my energy flow is stagnant, which affects my blood circulation, dropping my body temperature, making my body feel colder. As well, stagnant energy also affects my mental performance, like a mental block hindering me to write, think, or problem-solve. Spiritually, I am less inspired, and also less in tune with my inner guidance. By feeling and knowing that correlation, I am more able to address it in a timely manner, without having the effects snowball into bigger problems. Usually, I would try to massage certain acupoints or do some stretches to stimulate flow.
8) I have come to understand another aspect of my physical health: anemia. Previously, when I had anemia, my acupuncturist would insist that I take my iron pills religiously. When I told her I had difficulty finding my purpose in life, she insisted even more, though she didn’t explain the correlation between anemia and feeling fulfilled. Now I realize that my recovery from anemia is actually the reason I had the thought of starting a Book of Joy! As my physical body gained more strength, it wanted to do more, live more, love more. Hence, Book of Joy was born!
I have heard of many other similar writing exercises such as the gratitude journal. A friend once prescribed a similar idea to me, telling me to write down one joy a day, every day for 30 days, and to write it down at the same time every day. He didn’t explain why it had to be done in such a specific way. He simply said, “Just do it. You will know.” I didn’t follow his advice, because I was anemic. But now that I have tried something similar, on my own accord, I realize that I didn’t need him to explain why, because now I understand that each of us has our own unique journey. What we gain from the journal is exactly what we need. No one can tell us what that need is, except ourselves.
In conclusion, I would say that this seemingly simple habit has increased my awareness on the emotional level, as well as feeling its effects on my physical, mental, and spiritual levels. I must emphasize the difference between knowing and feeling. Someone else may tell you how good this is, but you will have to experience it for yourself to truly embodied the knowledge. And embodied knowledge has the power to change your life.
My Book of Joy has expanded and enriched my inner and outer world, by opening my heart space. I invite you to try it, and be surprised by what life has to offer!