Keeping Joy Alive

You know what I wish I could invent? I wish I could invent a joy battery pack.

We recently went to the beach, which is about an hour away. I stood there, looking at the waves and the surrounding hills, breathing in the sea air, filled with absolute joy. I was fully aware of how fortunate I was and I stood there trying to hold on to that moment with all of my senses.

I never wanted to forget.

Then as we were leaving, we had to run across the hot, dark sand and burned our feet. Then sat in traffic for two hours, all sandy and itchy. Then, when we finally made it home, my husband and I got all frustrated and snippy with each other over something that I can’t even remember twelve hours later.

What happened to the joy?!

If we allow it to dissipate over such small irritants, how can we possibly retain it when real-life problems come up?

Today I don’t come to you with any answers, but invite you to join me in sitting with the questions. Because I think they’re worthy questions to be having with ourselves (and with each other).

How do we keep joy alive?

I sit here, in the dark, as the sun is starting to rise. I see the pink horizon. I hear the roosters crowing off in the distance. I see the silhouette of our banana tree. I focus all my senses on being fully present.

Ah! There it is!

Maybe joy is never as far away as we think it is.

I have long believed that our focus determines our bravery. That if we focus on the things that scare us or overwhelm us that we’ll live into that focus. We will both physiologically and emotionally react which will, in turn, affect our behavior and thus our results. Perhaps joy is the same.

Our focus determines our joy. 

So then, if we want more joy in our lives, it makes sense that we must take responsibility for our focus. For we can leave it to chance and spend our days in reaction to the negative stimulus that will certainly be there, or we can live in choice. Which is more powerful? Which yields the best result?

Today I choose joy.

The sun is rising. The birds make up the music of the morning. It’s going to be a good day!

Ah! Joy! Won’t you join me?

©A Thoughtful Company, LLC


Kimberly Davis
Kimberly Davis
An expert on authentic leadership, Kimberly Davis shares her inspirational message of personal power, responsibility, and impact with organizations across the country and teaches leadership programs world-wide; most notably, her program “OnStage Leadership” which runs in NYC and Dallas, TX. Additionally, Kimberly teaches for Southern Methodist University’s (SMU) Cox School of Business’s Executive Education Program's Transformational Leadership Program and their Latino Leadership Initiative. She is also privileged to teach for the Bush Institute’s WE Lead Program (empowering female leaders from the Middle East). Kimberly is a TEDx speaker and her book, Brave Leadership: Unleash Your Most Confident, Authentic, and Powerful Self to Get the Results You Need, is the 2019 winner of the Benjamin Franklin Silver Award for Business and Career; an Amazon Bestseller in Business Leadership, Business Motivation, and Self-Improvement, and Motivational Business Management; and was named as the number one book to read in Inc. Magazine’s “The 12 Most Impactful Books to Read in 2018,” with a cover-endorsement by best-selling author Daniel Pink.

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  1. “Our focus determines our joy”.

    Lovely idea,Kimberly. Even focusing on a beautiful moment such as breathing the sea air can bee a source of joy. Living the happy moment will make us joyful.

    It is a coincidence that my last post on LinkedIn dealt with the same topic from a different angle. My post on Fun and Competition gives examples that focusing on winning rather than on enjoying sports games has deprived us of joy.

    I love this post and you made me think again.

  2. Kimberly —
    Loved this piece. You always make me think.

    I watched a video a couple of weeks back of the Eagle’s “Farewell Tour” filmed in Melbourne, AU, and what’s occurred to me over the days since is that there is literally an Eagle’s song for all of life’s “moments.” I’m currently typing a piece in my head with “Busy Being Fabulous” starring as the song du jour. But in this case, the antagonist is not a love interest. Stay tuned.

    So, as I was reading your piece, I started humming “Take It Easy.” It’s not always “easy” to remember that message at the time – “my husband and I got all frustrated and snippy with each other over something that I can’t even remember twelve hours later” – but it’s a great message to TRY and remember. And if Joe Walsh can stay sober for what, 30+ years now?, I can try – TRY! – to “Take it Easy” and remember life’s joy.

    • I so love that this took you on an Eagles journey, Jeff! One of the many, many, many things I treasure about our exchanges is that you let me into your head and then your reflections spark new reflections and on it goes. I had a big thing for the Eagles in the early 90’s (I know, I was late to the game). They did some kind of reunion thing on PBS and for some odd reason it was the first time that I had really paid attention to them, and I was totally mesmerized. For awhile, it was all Eagles, all the time. Then I had a dentist appointment in which they played music on headphones to ward off stress, and the entire time he was drilling, the Eagles played in my head! I haven’t been able to listen to them the same way since! Can’t wait to read the piece you’re typing in your head!

  3. Kimberely,
    Love love love the simple questions that keep us thinking deeper “How do we keep joy alive?” It is intriguing how the feeling can hide from us when we busy ourselves with a million other thoughts. You have captured the magic in finding it again… it is choosing. It is always choosing. When we realize that we are the drivers of our own thoughts, we find our freedom. #ichoosejoy

    • Carolyn, I’m curious if your move has made a difference for you in this way. For me, I find myself so much more present to the little things that it can’t help but bring more joy into my life.

  4. Absolutely loved your piece, Kimberly, but also saw that you already had an answer to your joy battery sitting right on top of your neck. Because you outlined so beautifully what made the day a bliss while you couldn’t even remember what you were bickering about.

    Your post sent me down memory road to trips to the beach over 50 years ago where I am 100% sure I had sand in my panties, probably had red shoulders, certainly would have stepped on rocks and had sea grass between my toes – and which child loves sea grass? But honestly, I don’t remember any of this.
    What stayed with me was awe of yesteryear how adults could find their way to precisely the right place. The trip going to the beach through the forest from the parking lot to the big sand dunes. The scent of pine trees. A particular pretty patch of birch trees. The grasses that we picked because our canary bird loved the seeds. My father tying knots on the corners of a handkerchief as an improvised sunhat. Jumping in the dunes. The old wagon my parents pulled so their toddlers could have a ride on top of the cooler and the towels. Stopping to visit my fathers old aunt and uncle on the way back and playing with the same three small toys that we would find in the drawer where they belonged, ready for little kids to show up.

    The forest and beach are still there. The same scents. The canary, dad, and his aunt and uncle are all gone but their grandson, my 2nd cousin, lives in the house. Among his treasures is a short piece of film with a wagon and two little girls – should I ever forget.

    • Oh Charlotte, I’m covered with goosebumps, reading your memory. Thank you for painting such a rich, beautiful picture of that experience. I feel as if I was with you, with grass in my toes and my nose filled with the scent of sea air. You perfectly ignited the movie in my mind! Brilliant storytelling!

  5. Hello Kimberly,

    You really have hit a ‘nerve’ with me. Resonating, putting mildly!

    We all have our downs and ups. May be some silly little thing which can generate a degree of antipathy, even for an hour or perhaps longer, Often after a night’s sleep.

    Every morning I look out the window or walk into the garden and enjoy the dawn. The awakening of a new day. The spectacular dawn chorus of a myriad birdsong as they welcome a new day. Their life, challenges and joys are on another plain than humans as their existence, their being is minus the elements that certainly affect mere humans, A beautiful sunrise invites the heart to gather the joyous splendour of renewal; birdsong lifting the spirit leaving behind negative stimuli releasing an essence of joy which will spread the word and feeling of positivity. A joy to behold. Thank you so much Kimberly.

    • Simon, one of your greatest gift, my friend, is evoking JOY every day! You have taught me so much about that. I’m so grateful that you help so many of us remember what really matters.