Merriam Webster defines joy as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires” and “a state of happiness…bliss.” No offense to Merriam, but I think this definition leaves out a key component of the meaning of joy, that is – home. After all, who hasn’t felt the strong desire to go home at the end of the day or experienced a moment of bliss when stepping through the door after a long, hard work day.
While the always reliable Merriam defines home as simply “one’s place of residence,” for most of us, home is much more than that. It is our refuge, our comfort, our safety zone, or at least we want it to be. We definitely assign feelings, dare I say spirit, to our place of residence – it’s even hard to say the word home without conjuring feelings…try it, you’ll see.
Of course, in spite of our best efforts, we can’t help but bring our distractions from the outside world home with us, sometimes mindlessly depositing them into our precious space, leaving them to sit and simmer in what should be our sanctuary of, well, joy.
So, here’s a few tips on creating an atmosphere that allows joy to flourish at home.
First, when asked how they create joy in their home, many busy people give the same, simple answer – ugh, I wish… If you are one of these people, I hear you. It’s almost involuntary to get home from work and vent to your roommate, partner, cat or just yourself about the difficulties of the day. I think venting is okay, as long as you don’t skip the step about processing and letting go. In her book The Wisdom of No Escape, Pema Chodron talks about the importance of being present in order to feel joy. She explains that “Resentment, bitterness, and holding a grudge prevent us from seeing and hearing and tasting and delighting.” We are definitely not present when we are venting, we are dwelling on the hardship of our day, which has already passed. So, yes, vent away, then process however you see fit and try a few of these suggestions to help you move past the tensions of the day.
To aid in the letting go part, many people have turned to the age-old ritual of burning sage or incense to cleanse the home space of any lingering toxic energy. Vogue ran an article on saging in its August 2016 issue, which highlights the benefits according to Energy Practitioner, Colleen McCain. McCain believes burning sage is a good way to “clean out bad energy” and that sage really has become “a common household tool.” I love the calming effect it has and it’s the first thing I do when I get home.
I am also a bath fanatic. There’s nothing like a hot bath with Epsom salts and lavender oil to heal the wounds of a busy work day. Although the healing ability of the magnesium and sulfate in Epsom salts is scientifically unproven (see WebMD), I’m a believer 😊.
Since I’ve always turned to nature to uplift me, I try to live near parks in the city. To look out the window and see trees and sky gives me a palpable sense of joy. It truly helps me to slow down and be present. Henry David Thoreau, who certainly mastered being present in nature, backs me on this – “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”
Drunk Yoga’s Operations Manager, Liz, makes some excellent points about bringing joy into her home. For her, it’s important to have an organized home. She says it gives her an immediate mental break from the craziness of the outside world.
Liz also loves how happy meaningful art in her home makes her feel. This can be anything from framed artwork to souvenir trinkets picked up while travelling. Putting your own personal touches on a home, that is, not just coordinating colors and styles and all that, but incorporating objects that mean something to you, is vital to creating a joyful environment for yourself.
Liz also says plants in her home make her happy. Plants are also a great way to bring nature indoors.
Many people find cleaning a great stress reliever (not me, but many). Just the physical activity of cleaning can help release tension and who doesn’t love the peace that comes with having a clean home. For some of those aforementioned many people, the joy is not in the cleaning itself, but the satisfaction that comes from a clean house. It can be easier to handle what life throws our way when we’re starting from a clean, orderly home base.
I think it’s safe to say, that consciously creating joy in our own homes is vital to well-being. Joy heals us, uplifts us and most importantly, pulls us into the present. I love the idea of every one of us having our own version of a joyful home to return to at the end of the day.