Three Powerful Channels of Joy


I’ve always found these three simple, but powerful, ways will channel joy into everyday life:

Smile. There is an old Chinese proverb that says every smile makes us a day younger. That said, begin and end your day with a smile. It will not only make you younger, it will cause others, even the flowers, to smile back at you.

Wonder. To wonder is to open our eyes to the magic things of the world, to comprehend beauty in its fullest capacity. John Keats, the English Romantic poet, tells us that a thing of beauty is a joy forever, that its loveliness increases, that it will never pass into nothingness.  Set your mind and your soul free every day and let that sense of wonder provide the nourishment you crave.

Reach. There is much out there for us to enjoy, though sometimes it needs to be tasted, to be experienced, to be hugged. Things of joy are ours only if we reach out and take them. “Let a joy keep you,” Carl Sandberg prompts us. “Reach out your hands and take it when it runs by.” To live with joy is not a passive state. It requires us to hold out our hands, if not to grasp the stars, to hold, at the very least, their star dust.

What do you reach out to hold? What simple but powerful practices do you cultivate to encourage joy in your life? Here’s mine:


I remember a garden

path that led me past

asters and phlox

to a spot by the sea.

All around, cold stones

and cormorants

warmed in the sun

while I looked

to the waves

as they broke

and turned beyond

where this land

could take me. Now

that childhood way

is gone, lost as leaves

come down and thistles

lift, yet still I sit on cold

gray stones, holding out

my hands, reaching

for waves, gathering

the blossoms they bring.

“Garden Path” © Mary O’Connor, Dreams of a Wingless Child, 2007

4 thoughts on “Three Powerful Channels of Joy

  1. Lovely poem, Mary. Thank you. I practice remembering sea roses, baking in the sun or drooping in the mist along the back shore of Peaks Island, Maine. Similar images to yours, from which I derive sustenance.


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