Finding Joy in the Ordinary Boosts Your Emotional Health

May 3, 2022

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.” 

That’s a quote from the classic Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. It beautifully depicts the transition from childhood to adulthood that everyone experiences: when growing up, we start to doubt if we can really fly. And once we feel that doubt creeping in, we forget to fly entirely. I have felt that feeling once; but I’m one of the lucky ones, because I was able to remember how to fly again.

It’s true that we can’t live in Neverland forever, but we still need to visit it occasionally. We sometimes need to remind ourselves of what it’s like to fly. Revisiting that feeling of freedom that comes with childhood will remind us why we need to become the best version of ourselves and work towards a happy and healthy life. 

Why Do We Need to Prioritize Joy?

It may feel like balancing all five cores is taking up too much of our attention, and joy doesn’t feel like a priority. Most of us have actual commitments and responsibilities to uphold, and can’t spend our time frolicking in Neverland when we have our career and relationships to take care of. 

While all this may be true, it is super important that you revisit the childhood feeling of wonder and freedom regularly to take care of your emotional health core and start living your happy and healthy life. The secret is finding joy in the ordinary; appreciating the little things and feeling that wonder is what will lead to your happy and healthy life.

Do you ever find yourself asking your kids if they want to watch Tangled one more time? It’s a great movie, after all. And do you catch yourself humming A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes as you cook dinner? We find these movies and songs touching our hearts because they remind us of the feeling of adventure and magic, and we still have that wonder inside us. At Disney World, lines for Peter Pan’s Flight and It’s A Small World stretch for hours, packed with adults waiting to experience the magic of childhood again. Joy and wonder and excitement may be different as we grow, but they should never end; they are the secret to happiness and health.

I often rediscover childlike wonder through the experiences of my child. Seeing his eyes widen at the sight of big, booming fireworks helps me see them as wondrous, colorful bursts of joy and excitement. He finds wonder in semi-trucks on the road: the bigger the better! Sometimes I’m driving alone and I see a huge semi, then think “Hey, that one’s huge!” even though Wyatt isn’t even with me. I find little joys in my ordinary drive home. And those little joys are a gift that help me live this happy and healthy life.

So, when you’re cooking dinner tonight, go ahead and dance around the kitchen, and whistle while you work! Take a walk through the forest and marvel at the different colors of the leaves, the sunlight streaming through the treetops, and the crunch of the dirt under your feet. Take joy in the little things: a piece of chocolate at work, the music you love booming from the speakers of your car, the sound of rain pattering against your windows. Feel and live in the moments that you are blessed with; find your happiness in this beautiful life you have, and feel it boost your emotional health.  

Thinking of the happiest things is the same as having wings: and then, whoosh! You can fly! You can fly! You can fly!

Want to know where you stand in the five values of life tied to happiness (your five cores)? Take this two-minute Core Values Quiz to get your core score in the five values of life.

Will Moore is a gamification, habits and happiness expert.

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