Every year I choose a word for the next year, rather than a resolution. I choose a word I want to adopt and explore in the coming year… I started this tradition following in the footsteps of someone I still consider a life mentor, the fabulous Lola Akinmade Åkerström.

Normally I write at length about my choice of word. Being real here though – I am writing this while ill with COVID-19 and really cannot face staring at any screen for that long. My word for 2022 comes with some writing attached that may not be as eloquent as I would have hoped, but even in sickness it is still good to set intentions!

So, my word for 2022 will be joy. I will be embracing the discipline of joy.

“Whoa, wait right there missy”, some of you will be saying. A common notion (one I probably shared for much of my life) was that joy isn’t a discipline, it is a feeling. I believe this is where we confuse happiness and joy. Happiness is a feeling, a beautiful feeling, one where we can feel uplifted for seconds, minutes, even whole days, by the words, circumstances or events we encounter. However, I now subscribe to the same school of thought encountered in Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama’s book, ‘Joy’, that actually joy is something we need to cultivate.

During the past year I have been through so many things that have not made me happy. 2021 was anxiety-inducing, frustrating, and at times very sad. I know I am not alone in having struggled during 2021. The pandemic was just a dreary backdrop for me to other more personal events, but a gloomy constant nevertheless. While I have always seen myself as a ‘positive person’, I have, at times, found cynicism seeping in. All has not been well in my soul. I have also felt mentally and physically exhausted most of the time.

At first I followed my natural inclination to blame everything else going on around me. There are of course reasons and traumas we all go through that affect our mood. However, I believe that we also have agency in curating joy – especially those of us in privileged positions where we don’t need to worry about where our next meal is coming from.

So in 2022 I will be keeping it simple but doing the following three things throughout the year to start to rebuild a foundation of joy in my life. They are my blueprint:

I will be:

  1. Practicing framing my situations in positive terms;
  2. Practicing gratitude (Not just saying thanks but writing down the things I am grateful for and naming them); and
  3. Practicing kindness and generosity when and where I can.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year. Let us all shine brightly and with great joy. Finishing in the words of the late, great, Desmond Tutu:

Discovering more joy does not, save us from the inevitability of hardship and heartbreak. In fact, we may cry more easily, but we will laugh more easily too. … Yet as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather than embitters.” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1931 – 2021)

Image: Kolby Milton/Unsplash