Lately, I've felt like all news is borderline devastating: friends contracting Coronavirus, family members cancelling their weddings, business owners drowning under the financial pressures that continue to pile up. Unless your social media timelines and network are an anomaly, I imagine you're in the same boat, and I'm personally approaching the point of feeling numb to it all. It's been a tough few months across the board, and it gets easy to fall into a never-ending cycle of melancholy. One thing helping me get through it: joy triggers.
Never heard of them? Allow me to explain.
My first job out of college was at The Huffington Post, where I spent about one of my three years working directly for Arianna. I don't remember the context in which I first heard her use the term "joy trigger," but I do remember feeling curious at its mention. I could attempt to define it, but Arianna stated it best here:
"It’s not enough to be productive, it’s not enough to be successful, I need my joy triggers. Joy triggers are not rational. Bring them into your daily life, because I really believe that ... it’s all a part of how we can bring balance into our life... getting joy from simple (but beautiful) things — scents and sights and tastes."
I took "joy triggers" with me as one of the many useful life lessons learned from the job and managed to apply it dozens of times. Yet, the phrase has become only more pertinent and meaningful throughout the past two months.
The first few days of quarantine, when things were starting to look bleak, I began searching for those little moments that spark joy in my everyday life: a rainbow light refraction on the wall, the overwhelmingly intoxicating scent of garlic in olive oil on the stove, a particularly unique flower on my afternoon walk, or my cat sleeping in my lap, purring for hours. There has been something so comforting about focusing on these typically unremarkable things that I would otherwise ignore, and capturing it on my iPhone anytime I have that momentary flutter of delight. Looking at them on a tiny screen days later still evokes a similar feeling, and the sensation is so powerful I've even started sharing them on my Instagram stories.
While this concept isn't revolutionary (Emily's Five Things is certainly similar!), I've been craving more and more joy triggers throughout quarantine. They keep me distracted (even for a few seconds), grounded, and give me time to reflect. More importantly, they help keep my perspective in check: I wind up thinking about how lucky I am to be able to get in that afternoon walk, bake in a well-stocked kitchen, or have access to internet where I can watch my favorite shows on repeat for comfort.
I encourage you to find your own joy triggers and capture them, whether you plan to keep them for yourself or share them on your own social media channels. All those brief, insignificant moments add up to a sum that's much greater than its parts.