Image of rocks stacked atop one another

Looking for joy in the most unexpected places

I’ve just finished reading an article by Richard Askwith in this month’s Runners World magazine. One sentence made me feel so sad, it almost stopped me in my tracks for a few minutes, on finishing the article it filled me with a sense of excited anticipation of what Richard’s way of thinking had set of in my head.

Earlier this month I wrote about the importance of joy at work, Richard’s article and his book Running Free took my thinking even deeper into the potential of Joy to enrich not only our lives but to enrich us from the inside out. For as long as I can remember I have been a competitive soul, maybe not always very successfully, both at work and at play. Much of my self-judgement is frequently a result of comparing how I’m doing compared to the person next to me whether that’s at work, at home, on a run. Our social media filled world feeds the comparison habit as we read and watch other people’s “show reels” and compare them to our own world full of the potential outtakes.

It may be age that’s driving my current thinking, there are days when I wonder if I’m getting closer to the person in Jenny Joseph’s poem “ When I’m an old women I shall wear purple…”, but today Richard Askwith has got me wondering what would happen if we did what we do each day for the joy of it? On the surface that may sound a tad naïve; most of us need to work to pay the bills, we need to clean the house once in a while, we need to have the hard conversations as well as the easy ones. But what if we looked for the joy in things more often?

Over recent months when I’ve gone running after a day spent in my home office, as opposed to being in a room full of people pre-COVID, I’ve been surprised how much I’ve looked forward to the run through the woodland trails. I’ve enjoyed noticing the change in the trees, the farmers fields as everything has blossomed and grown. I’ve often come home with new ideas or solutions that I hadn’t thought of before. It’s not been about how quick or slow my run was. Or though I have to admit there is still a minimum run pace my self-judgement will not let me go below.

At the beginning I mentioned one sentence in Richards article made me sad… he wrote;

brutal feedback is something you sign up for when you become an author… but the publication of Running Free became a slightly sad episode in my memory, to be dwelt on as little as possible.

I am glad to see that recent events and a move towards greater interest in the benefits of running for wellbeing are showing that Running Free is something to be proud of, to give you joy and I dearly hope that it is now becoming a joyful memory for Richard now and in the future.

What would happen if we noticed the joy in our lives more, or we did things because of the joy it could bring others. This week I’m going to put a different lens on my week and see what happens. I’m going to look for joy in more places, I’m going to notice what impact it has on how I feel at the beginning and the end of each day…

I’m going to look for joy in even the most unexpected places.

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