They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.

~Tom Bodett


The room is hot and humid. Compared to the winter’s cold just two panes of glass away, it’s a shock to my system. But a welcome shock. Like a long hug you weren’t expecting.

“For today’s class, we’re going to focus on choosing joy.”

I immediately see my daughter’s face two nights prior. While attending an event to support a friend’s essential oil business, my daughter wanted to make her own oil roller. After looking carefully at each colorfully labeled tiny brown bottle, she chooses a light pink one. The label reads, Joy. When I tell her, she’s sold. They try to change her mind and ask her to smell a few others. She isn’t interested. She’s picked the best one. And on her first try. I love the confidence in her face. She’s fierce. She’s awesome.

“We can have control over our thoughts. You just have to choose joy. You could choose anger. You could choose resentment. But why? When you can choose joy. Always choose joy.”

The next 90 minutes are full of poses meant to enhance my balance. I watch my body contort into positions that make me laugh, some of which bare my hidden tattoos. But each reminds me of my strength. I’m grateful to have this time to myself.

I get in the car and crank the volume up. It’s my favorite Billie Eillish song, Everything I Wanted.

And you say, “As long as I’m here
No one can hurt you
Don’t wanna lie here
But you can learn to
If I could change
The way that you see yourself
You wouldn’t wonder why you’re here
They don’t deserve you.”

I chose joy. I choose joy. In four hours, I get to experience a surge of pure joy. My two greatest blessings are going to be back home and in my arms. I’ll get to tell them how much I love them, hug them, smother them with kisses, and get back to normal, single-mom life. I make good use of my alone time, but, there’s no better feeling in the world than having them home.

My daughter runs through our coral front door and straight into my bedroom. She grabs her blue oil roller from my dresser and asks, “Mom, you want some Joy?” Her brother assumes she’s talking to him and replies, “I want Joy!” And we slather ourselves in a floral citrus essential oil diluted with fractionated coconut oil as well as pure unadulterated joy. We’re choosing this moment. We chose Joy.

I look forward to watching my children grow. I look forward to learning about their personalities, their strengths, and their weaknesses. I look forward to listening to their stories. I look forward to learning what joy looks like to them.

I credit my children for giving me a purpose and for keeping me strong when I could’ve been weak. I credit my children for my awakening. As an adult, our brains tend not to be as malleable as our former child-selves. But one loophole in adult brain plasticity occurs during pregnancy and the postpartum period. My children changed the way my brain works. My children changed me. I’ll be forever thankful for the opportunity they’ve given me. And for the woman they made me.

By giving them life, they’ve given me life. And they’ve given me joy.


JoAnna Baanana
JoAnna Baanana
Mother, Marketer, Writer, and Reader. I’m a mother of two wonderful little humans. I’m also an avid reader, an insatiable learner, and a self-acknowledged survivor. I’m grateful to work at O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) because I’ve learned the self-soothing and restorative craft of writing. I used to resist calling myself a writer because I have a finance degree. I naively thought I needed an English degree to effectively express myself in writing. But now, writer is a title I proudly wear, and writing is something I’ll practice for the rest of my life.

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  1. JoAnna, the feeling of joy is for a lack of a better sequence of words is a joy. Who wouldn’t want to feel and experience joy the greatest amount of time? It is possible to convince yourself to be joyous or feel joy but that is in a sense a dangerous exercise. There will be no shortages of occasions or events in life that will leave you feeling sad, angry, moody, etc. It is okay to feel these emotions as they are quite normal. Certainly, nobody wants to live life on an emotional roller coaster but many of us will go through periods like that. By all means, do those things that bring you joy but for whatever reason, your feelings are the polar opposite of joy that is okay. A person should feel what they feel whenever they feel it without trying to convince themselves they feel happy or joyous when you are not. Human beings are not robots which means we should not try to fool ourselves. Thank you, JoAnna for another one of your excellent articles.

    • Joel – this is very well put. And I couldn’t agree more. We have a plethora of emotions and we should feel them as they come. I’ve certainly had my share of ups and downs. We can’t bury the bad feelings or they’ll come back tenfold. We have to process our mistakes and our failures. But when joy is an option, we should chose it. Being angry and resentful will only bring more anger and resentment in our life. Thank you for your comment. You have an awesome perspective Joel.

    • JoAnn, Thank you for your response to my comment. If joy is is an option we SHOULD choose it as you say. As far as your statements about anger and what it can lead to I agree with you 100%! You wrote one heck of an article.

    • Thank you Cynthia. I’m learning to embrace a new way of life. There will always be a plethora of emotions, but when we have a choice, we should chose joy!

    • Thank you Len! My two are a beautiful reminder. Especially when they are not around everyday. I learn to appreciate the moments so much more.