I can’t stare at this picture without the corners of my mouth creeping upwards.
This little Mongolian girl in a simple dress, hanging out with her dirty pet camel on an ugly, brown, barren plain, appears to have more joy in her life than every person surrounding me at this posh Starbucks sipping their $5 lattes. I look around and see designer Gucci handbags and endless amounts of updated Mac products. I see $200 hair cuts and rows of expensive cars. But not person around me, cushioned with the supposed security of our extravagant possessions, seems to possess a fraction of what this little girl has found.
We all look burdened. We all look serious. And we all look too mature to have a good, hearty laugh.
The difference between this exhuberent girl who appears to have less than I’ve ever had in my life and the somber spirit of the prosperity surrounding me can’t help but pose this question:
Is joy free, and if so, can I have a dose of it at any time?
I stop for a moment, laying aside the burden of bills, of broken relationships on the mend, of the uncertainty of the future.
What makes me smile? What brings me joy? What makes me laugh until my sides hurt?
1) Walking in the door to get Moses up in the morning, greeted by a smile, a ‘Hi!’, and a bear hug. (Free)
2) No bubbles needed, no sea-salts or fancy scrubs, just sinking into a hot bath. (Maybe $1)
3) Sipping a cup of coffee with my best friend Kelly at a NYC brunch on the upper west side. ($5)
4) Driving over to the beach watching Moses run from the waves. ($4.50 for gas)
5) Turning on my favorite show Shark Tank and sinking into my delicious down feathered sofa. (Maybe $1)
6) Being still and experiencing the love of God. (Free)
7) Peeling the label off of my water bottle and shredding it into a million pieces. (Free)
8) Hearing Studhub tell me for the millionth time how much he loves me. (Free)
9) Walking around Whole Foods and trying all the sample cheeses on display. (Free)
10) Talking to someone and watching them realize that because God unconditionally loves them, they’ve never been unloved. (Free)
Looks as if the sum-total of my short list of joy-items comes to a whopping total of maybe $11.50, and I must say, I think a camel in Mongolia probably costs a bit more than $11.50. And the crazy thing is, I’ve had a big, goofy smile on my face the entire time I was thinking up my short-list, with warm, sticky, honey filling up my heart.
Joy is free, friends. You can’t buy it, you can’t perform for it, and you can’t work hard enough to grab it. It’s available to all of us…with only a few tiny tweak in perspective.
Stop for a minute and think of one thing, maybe two. What are the simple things that bring you joy, and how can you start acknowledging them on a daily basis?