So last week, I decided I would commit to joy this month–experimenting and investigating with what brings me joy, pleasure, and a sense of treating myself.

The biggest thing that I have learned?

Noticing is half the battle. Savoring is the other half.

I actually am pretty good at treating myself–I am less good at noticing and savoring those experiences.

So, whether it’s a freshly baked cookie (I have been keeping homemade cookie dough in the freezer, so when I feel like a cookie, I get one) or watching an ABC Family Holiday movie on Netflix (don’t you judge me!) or taking a walk in the snow (we got 7 inches, which you know, because, as my friend Andy put it “Lauren, everyone knows you’re snowed in–because you snowed in my instagram feed with your photos.” Uh, you’re welcome.), I have been working to be really present in those moments. 

The way to be more present in joy is the way to be more present in anything: use your body and your senses to tune into the experience. The only way out of the monkey mind chatter that is ever-present in your life is to bring your awareness back down to earth, all the way to the tips of your toes if you have to.

Closing my eyes when I’m eating helps. Letting my excitement about snow manifest itself in some whoops and jumping up and down even if it makes look super uncool helps. Focusing on a sound or a smell or a sensation in my body helps.

Interestingly, that’s also my secret treat hack I’ve found–if you’re someone who struggles with treating yourself outside of food and spending money, then run through your senses (taste, touch, sight, sound, smell) and make a list of things that make you spontaneously smile. You’ll get ideas for treats that would never show up in a magazine’s “Treat Yourself” article.

And then take a moment to savor them when they are actually happening–when you crawl into your freshly washed sheets, or put on your favorite cashmere sweater, or take your dog out to play.

I noticed I wrote “I have been working to be really present” a little earlier. That’s not entirely true. Because “working on joy” is a little oxymoronic. So, I’ve been playing with it, cultivating it, savoring it and letting it go. I’m trying to follow William Blake’s advice:

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sun rise.