Joy is not just an emotion. It’s a positive response that lights up your soul and emanates when something good happens to us or those around us. We find Joy in facial expressions, smiles, and laughter as well as in our hearts and our actions. It is a choice that we can make every day when we choose to show up in a place of possibility. And the beautiful thing about Joy is that it is contagious. As we bring Joy to life, it spreads to others. Scattering, spreading, and sharing Joy is delightfully simple.
How Joy Fits into LOVING
Joy is at the heart of LOVING. When we make the conscious choice for Joy, we choose to LOVE. And when we choose to LOVE, we change the world.
When looking for a little comfort and Joy, we can always count on Mr. Rogers to deliver. This piece from The Greater Good helps us consider why, particularly now, he is such a magnetic force of good. Yes Mr. Rogers modeled kindness and helped us think about our feelings, yet what really mattered most is what he stated over and over again: “You are special” and “I like you just the way you are.”
During every show, he told each and every one of us that we are worthy of LOVE just by being our true authentic individual selves. He confirmed that we are enough. And in a time that all too often seems to be bubbling over with that which is less than civil, less than kind, less than lovely – this is a perfect truth to remember: we are all lovable.
A team of neuroscientists set off to find the most joyful song ever recorded and found that there was one song that met all of their happiness criteria: “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen. After studying the lyrics, tone, tempo, and key, the University of Missouri team found that the secret to a feel-good song is in its beats per minute (BPM). Clocking in at 157 BPM, compared to the typical pop song’s 118 BPM, “Don’t Stop Me Now” is an instant way to uplift the soul. A hit since its release in 1978, the song proves that Joy is enduring. In addition to proving that there are patterns to finding Joyful sounds, these researchers’ work shows that there is science behind the power of Joy. Joy is not just a feel-good, emotional state; Joy is backed by data, by reason, and by evidence. And it can be created.
How often are there opportunities to utilize music and sound in our work? What emotions do these songs evoke? How might we bring Joy into the mix?
While neurosurgical physician assistant Tony Adkins of Children’s Hospital of Orange County is a highly skilled PA, there’s one particular difference that really sets him apart: his dance moves. Working with his young patients who are struggling to get through everything from spinal surgery to brain malformations, Adkins aims to give these children a reason to be Joyful again, to rejoice. Known as the “Dancing Doc,” he’s found that patients and their families feel uplifted by dance, and their care actually progresses due to a decrease in anxiety and an increase in mobility. When working with patients of all ages, we can choose to instill a sense of Joy into the care provided, for the feeling and for the healing.
What are some unexpected ways to surprise or delight our team members, providers, patients, and guests? While we strive for our processes and procedures to function like a well choreographed production, in what ways might we encourage improvised outbursts of Joy?
Patients in Montreal may be surprised when they LOOK at their prescription and find that they’ve been prescribed art. Made possible by a partnership with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the physician members of Médecins francophones du Canada, physicians can now write prescriptions for free museum visits with the hope that patients can have a “relaxing, revitalizing experience, a moment of respite.” A growing body of research tells us that art can boost mood and impact wellbeing as well as provide a positive Experience away from illness. In a time when we’re much more aware of the negative effects that stress and anxiety have on physical wellbeing, its ingenious to lean on the healing powers of art to increase Joy in patients.
How might we make art and alternative forms of Joy in healing accessible for our team members, providers, patients, and guests? In what ways could artful and Joyful Experiences be incorporated into our work, our care, and our communities?
Have you ever stopped to think about why certain elements seem to create such universal Joy—rainbows, balloons, children laughing? Enjoy this TED Talk where Ingrid Fetell Lee shares the foundational roots of Joy and illuminates ways we can all find and create more of it.
In The Experience Lab, we are always on the lookout for pop-up Experiences that create Joy and happiness. The ones we LOVE are the unexpected places and spaces designed simply to impart a feeling. HAPPY PLACE is a traveling, interactive, immersive installation that does just that—bring and spread positivity and Joy. Similar to Color Factory, HAPPY PLACE exists “to provide an oasis for people to come together and embrace moments of happiness in their everyday lives.” Who wouldn’t benefit from more of that?
What unexpected and Joyful new pop-up Experiences might you create for your team members, providers, patients, or guests?
When it comes to the principle of Joy, there is no better exemplar than one of our favorite humans in the world: Brad Montague. Brad is the creator of Kid President and the founder and chief dreamer for the Montague Workshop. He not only coined the phrase JOY REBEL—he is the greatest JOY REBEL we know.
As you know, in The Experience Lab we are passionately committed to designing for and with Joy while engaging and inspiring leaders and caregivers to become possibilitarians for their organization and the industry. How would you define the principle of Joy and what it means to be, as we like to say, a possibilitarian?
Brad Montague (BM): You and your Lab Partners have been on a really big adventure together—shaping the future of health care and the health care Experience. And it brings me great Joy knowing that there are humans like you in the world doing this important work. You all help me understand what you mean by the word possibilitarian. The way I see it, a possibilitarian is anyone who sees that the world still pulses with possibility—someone who can LOOK at a hopeless case and still see hope. In your work, it’s people who aren’t just about health care, rather about human care. Possibilitarians are out there helping others be stronger, be better—and as Kid President would say, “gooder.” You don’t just see the work as is—you see it as it could be.
Seeing the world through a lens of possibility means drawing on who we once were as children. Remember the beauty of LIVING in a childlike space where your eyes were filled with wonder, awe, and there was infinite possibility?
Remember those people who had a deep impact on you? And they might not even have known it! Who did you need as a child? How can you be the person who you needed when you were younger?
Sometimes I do this exercise with folks and have them think about a person who changed their world for the better, someone who showcased a new possibility. Think about that person and fill in, “I am ________ because you were ________.” Try it! Fill it in. And better yet, fill it in and send it to the person you wrote about.
Can you share a bit about the work you do to bring more Joy to the world?
BM: Let me answer your question with a question, “What do you see every day when you are with other human beings?” My life’s work is seeing the world through the eyes of a child. I try to see the way I did as a child—with wonder. I spend my time being around kids, in classrooms, and at camp. I LOVE having kids open up and share what’s important to them.
Being a better grown up requires thinking more like a child. I’m not telling you to be childish but childlike. Think about how can you see the world with such wonder? What are you afraid of? What do you care about? How can I be a better grown up? When you are childlike you see the world with wisdom, wonder, and whimsy.
When you remember what it’s like to be a child you begin to no longer see a box but a spaceship. You see possibility instead of mud puddles. You see potential in every problem… becoming probertunities. Kids I know see homelessness and gather socks with such Joy! It happens in October, Socktober, and in every state. Kids choose to make great things happen for other kids. Another group of kids I know started a soup kitchen. One started a beauty pageant with kids who have special needs. And they aren’t doing this out of guilt but pure Joy, beauty, and LOVE. I am fueled by LOVE.
Sonia Sotomayor once sat next to me at a dinner party, and she asked me, “What do you love, about what you do?” This simple question unlocked me! I had never thought about that. I told her, “I love going to the classroom and seeing kids open up.” She told me, “I help give a voice to people who don’t think they have a voice.” Wow! So I ask you, “What do you love, about what you do and is that love visible?”
What is your advice and hope for our Lab Partners?
BM: My hope is that your time in The Experience Lab launches you out to fly and help others fly, and that the work that has happened in The Lab is known and felt by all the people you touch. Never forget we need each other, because no one flies alone.
Next time you meet someone, instead of asking, “What do you do?” ask, “What do you love, about what you do?” Instead of getting a job description, you’ll hear inside their hearts. Then ask yourself, “What do I love, about what I do, and is that love visible?”
Remember, this is a Joyful rebellion. Live differently, not because you’re mad at how things are, but because you are swelling with Joy at the thought of how things could be. Rebel against the mundane, the mediocre, the middle-of-the-road to bring beauty, magic, and Joy to your work and the world. Draw your circles wide. It’s the difference you can make and the LOVE and Joy that you can show.
Ben Maksym, a 17-year-old poet from Vermont, penned an exquisite short poem of simple Joy. In adolescence, the bridge between childhood and adulthood, Joy can be forgotten amidst the many insecurities, questions, and changes that occur. But Ben found clarity in the simple: the daily Moments that create Joy.
Waking up on a tired day and lying. Not moving, just sitting. To have no duties, no arduous ordeals
to deal with. That is joy.
Making a joke, seeing others smile, not just to be nice, or to indulge, but because they’re actually amused. You smile, too. That is joy.
Stroking a dog or cat or animal of any size, shape, type, that loves you. Not having them
run, tense, fear. That is joy.
To hear “I love you” of your own effort, work, and patience; to respond in kind. That is joy.
Dancing, singing, loving, with your own child. Seeing their sunlight smile. That is joy.
Where do we find simple Joys in everyday life? As we tap into our childlike spirit of wonder, what Joy comes into focus? How might we honor and celebrate that Joy?