Finding Joy in Being

Giggling Kip

In my quest to be happy just being, there are a lot more of these moments than there are accolades on my resume. I’m getting to the point at which success is a laughing two-year-old. It feels better this way.

As a recovering achievement addict—nearly four years sober—I’m continually digging deep into my being and pulling up roots of the idiom that “hard work leads to success.” I recently decided I’d rather sow internal seeds of a less puritanical nature because, the farther away I am from the old days, the more I know one thing:

It* doesn’t freaking have to be so hard.

* It = Whatever is feeling hard to you in this moment

* Antidote to “it” (barring any clear and present danger) =

a. Mindful acceptance


b. Finding joy in just being

Just down the road from my blighted hometown, Work Hard and Repeatedly Have Something to Show for It Publicly Ville, is a delightful little hideaway known as Joy in Being Town. They look and function exactly alike on the outside, but they have a totally different feel. I like walking through the latter barefoot and laughing, with a glass of something bubbly in one hand, a child’s sticky palm in another and my eyes taking in all the sights rather than my emails. It’s a charming place, and downright beautiful when you venture from the beaten path, and everything gets done despite the notable lack of ambition-laced to-do lists. My favorite thing to do there is to lie face-up in the ocean and let my body roll atop the swells.

It’s too bad, but I do have to be careful when residing in Joy in Being Town, because sometimes I notice that, instead of just being there in all that sunny bounty, I’m (with gritted teeth) working really hard to stay there. Trying to wear the right clothes; trying to give a certain impression; trying to make my light seem brighter; trying act sparkly when, as a result of measuring myself in some unfortunate way, I feel rather dark.

Locals smell a fake from a mile away. Instantly, a gray van whirs up and shuttles me back to Work Hard and Repeatedly Have Something to Show for It Publicly Ville, where I sit in the equivalent of an office cafeteria and tell everyone how driven I was before I became a mom; how frequently I’m meditating; how futile my valiant attempts are to keep our house clean; how exhausted I am from my full-time mom job; how I’m working on a very important freelance deadline; how I used to be a real athlete with, like, a two-pack in my abs; how I have a screenplay and a brilliant business plan I’ll execute some day, etc.

In general, this is the puritanical place I go to hail my material-world achievements, to feel insignificant when I have nothing to hail and to decry the stuff that actually matters in this life and beyond. (*see note below.)

After enough of that—and it doesn’t take long anymore, thank goodness—I hitchhike back to Joy in Being Town and take up in a colorful home, where I stretch out and ride the tide of the moment, cleaning, writing, playing, cooking, caring for my family, seeing friends and working at just the right times, respectively. I laugh a lot more. I skip a lot more. I say nice things about myself and about others. My kids seem jollier. I jump in bouncy houses.

For some, including younger versions of myself, this may seem like a waste of time, this pursuit of things I can’t put on a resume. But when I open up to just being, and to experiencing joy rather than judgment (It’s hard! It’s not fun! I don’t have enough time! Why am I not better at X?) in that being, it’s amazing the things that happen.


It’s not, like, a flattering picture of me, but it is proof that I commandeered a bouncy house and laughed my way to extremely sore legs. Unbridled joy.

*Note re: stuff that actually matters in this life and beyond: The really important stuff certainly varies from person to person. As I understand it, before we’re born, we all choose one big lesson we wish to learn from life, then we go forth fully supported from the other side to live a life of experiences and relationships that facilitate our learning. Achieving this mission is all that really matters in the scheme of life and life after life. The funny thing to those of us with ingrained earth-bound ideas of success is that the mission is usually simple enough to be explained in one word. And it’s most probably not “wealth,” “power” or “renown.” More likely, it’s Love. Forgiveness. Compassion. Joy. Connection. Helpfulness. Peace. Kindness. Nonattachment. Understanding…and countless other attributes well worth a lifetime of dedication.

7 thoughts on “Finding Joy in Being

  1. This is wonderful, Emily! A joy to read, thank you! There is no symphony as beautiful as the laugh of your child, your dog’s wet nose on the back of your knee, as you do the dishes, or the smell of a new box of Crayons, that remind you of your first day of school.

  2. Emily, I really enjoy reading your blog articles. You are quite talented and introspective. I hope you’re well. 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Mols! It’s so awesome you’re reading this. Thank you. I am so completely curious about your life right now–if you get a random phone call from me soon, don’t be surprised. I need to get caught up on you!

  3. Thank you Em.. I have just returned 10 days at sea floating in the ocean in my happy place and now back tied up to the dock for less than 3 hours I have been finding everything wrong about being confined to this boat and the sameness and I wnat it cleaned and new colors and fabrics it is too drab and my hips hurt and and and and and……..(.Mike was even up in the wheelhouse downloading meditational and calmining music for me to listen to help me relax and lighten up ) hahaha but true……. then I opened my computer and your blog ( actually ) Bri saying “my wife WOW” and so I started reading your Blog.. . Now I laughed and said this drab confining sameness just took me and 10 of the most fun and loving friends on an adventure of activity and laughter and a closeness with amazing memories that we will always have…. all of a sudden the mess disapeared the boat was fresh and lovely and i can’t wait to get her all freshened up (happily this time ) for our next adventure wednesday when my fav neice and nephew and his new wife come to play for the first time… Miss you my friend..from one who has actually floated face down in the Ocean with you… Abrazos Sherry< < <

    • Wow, Sherry, this is so beautiful. I can’t tell you how lovely it is to read this. (Also how awesome it is to know Mike downloads calming music for you!) While I can’t imagine feeling icky about anything on your glisteningly gorgeous yacht, this reminds me that it’s not the actual space, it’s our headspace, that makes all the difference. You are so cool! Thank you for writing and for sharing this amazing story. I am asking the Universe to make it possible for us to see you guys again soon. We so miss you. Huge abrazos to you, too, and wishes for an awesome trip with your niece, nephew and wife.

  4. Emily, once again you send out a beautiful message written with grace, style and humor. I love to read your blog!! Let me just say I am a confirmed believer in the merits of a bouncy house. Jumping (or just standing in them when others jump) bring on joyful bouts of laughter. I loved your picture!!
    i thoroughly loved the names of your “towns”. I plan on spending my day in the Joy of Being Town today and hope to see you there!

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