“We must risk delight. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of the world.”– Jack Gilbert
I read this quote in Big Magic, and it stopped me in my tracks. It was like a truth bomb had gone off inside my head and heart.
Why is delight a risk?
Delight means you’re no longer numb. Choosing delight, presents a clear statement to the universe that you’ve opted for life in all its fullness, that you’re done with playing it safe, whatever the consequences may be.
Saying “YES” to delight puts you in the crossfire for the full rainbow of emotions (apparently there are 27), including embarrassment, horror, disgust, anxiety and fear.
The good news is, that also throws awe, calmness, nostalgia, joy and adoration into the mix.
Love this quote from Sarah Wilson below:
“The question we’ve got to ask ourselves is, do we want to be happy, or do we want to have JOY? A lot of what we do, is try to chase cheap happiness – which I see as avoidance. A rich life, is a far better life. I want to LIVE. If that means I have to experience every emotion so be it, bring it on.”Sarah Wilson, author of First We Make The Beast Beautiful, speaking to Fearne Cotton on The Happy Place podcast
To me, the word ‘delight’ speaks of childlikeness, presence, joy and a sense of abandon.
The best hen do I ever went to? We spent the day splashing about in the water park, embarked on a treasure hunt, before finally dressing up as Harry Potter characters and playing games in Sherwood Forest. We basically just gave ourselves permission to be big kids for the weekend.
So, how do we bring DELIGHT into our lives?
Here are eight suggestions:
1. We need to play.
I once had a therapy session, which kicked off with the question: “When do you play?” I just looked at him in dumbstruck silence, racking my brain for a suitable answer. My silence spoke volumes, and it really got me thinking. What even is ‘play’? According to the dictionary it’s to engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.
The book, Rest, by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, adds to this: “Play is voluntary, intrinsically rewarding, mentally and physically engaging, and imaginative.”
I’m still not sure what this looks like in my life, I just know the power of it.
I’m starting with the questions: What does fun mean to me? Which of my friends know best how to play (see photo below)? Do I know any children? It’s enviably effortless for them, we can learn a lot from just spending time with them: their curiosity, wonder and fearlessness.
2. We need to practise gratitude.
Comparison is a bit of a delight-killer. So is FoMO. Gratitude is a wonderful, life-affirming antidote to those joy-stealing emotions. It often doesn’t come naturally; we need to practise it. Whether you pray, make a gratitude list in your journal or send a weekly letter or text to someone who enriches your life, there are plenty of ways to cultivate a more thankful mindset.
3. We need to become proximate to those who are suffering
In the powerful, heartbreaking memoir, Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson’s Grandmother, says to him, “You can’t understand most of the important things from a distance Bryan. You have to get close.” In being close to others who are suffering, we begin to close the gaps in our communities, creating unity and a greater sense of purpose in our lives.
4. We need to connect.
A personal aim: to increase my synchronous communication (face-to-face, video and phone call), over my asynchronous (email, text, social media). I communicate almost entirely through WhatsApp and Instagram. As a freelancer, my synchronous communication is at an all-time low.
As humans we have a tendency to be risk-averse, lazy and fearful of rejection. Throw addiction to social media into the mix, and you can see why loneliness, anxiety and dissatisfaction are rife. We’re more connected digitally, but more connection-lite. We don’t have to put ourselves out there, but then we don’t get the rewards of deeper connection, belly laughs, vulnerability, physical touch and a shared meal. To name a beautiful few.
I’m going to schedule calls. Make time for coffees. Host dinner parties. The whole shebang.
5. We need to disconnect.
Turn everything off. Everything. Apart from your freezer. Be luxuriously unavailable to the world outside your four walls. Even if it’s for one hour every day.
6. We need to grieve.
Unprocessed grief can leave us feeling numb, as cumulative pain and disappointment, can make us afraid to feel anything at all. I had an incredible conversation with someone over coffee last month and she spoke into my life gently asking whether I generally felt numb, and if I’d stopped dreaming.
A key step to rediscovering my inner dreamer, is to grieve my disappointments, truly feel them, forgive where needed and let the pain go. This is a work-in-progress for me, and perhaps a future blog topic.
7. We need to wonder.
My mum inspires me with this one. She goes on long walks most days, throughout the year, reflecting on the seasonal changes, soaking in the beauty, marvelling at creation. I think walking is the one. I would love to fill my life with more awe-inspiring, natural experiences. Wonder requires a quietness, reverence, inner stillness and wide open eyes.
“I have walked myself into my best thoughts.”Søren Kierkegaard
We yearn for something greater. It’s within all of us. The Germans have a word for it: Sehnsucht – an intense yearning for something far off and indefinable.
When was the last time you felt wonder? (And didn’t take a picture for the ‘gram). #guilty
8. We need to mix it up.
After visiting Porto with friends last year, we chatted about the trip, and I felt strongly that it was good, pleasant, nice, all of those very safe adjectives, but that these trips with friends could be so much MORE. We spoke of a yearning for ADVENTURE, to be in NATURE, to TEST OUR LIMITS and to create memories together.
We have to be unafraid to change the way we do things.
The more we touch those moments, the more we’re able to witness ourselves in the world.– Sarah Wilson, The Happy Place podcast
Please let me know if you would add anything to this list. I’m an ever-learning work in progress. Thank you for reading.