So you want more joy. I hear you. Who doesn’t? The thing is, though, we can sometimes get so wrapped up trying to find it, we fail to see it even when it’s staring us right in the face — and I mean litrally. Before you quit your job, leave your partner, join a commune or buy a convertible, take a look in your own backyard. You may just find it.

Yesterday morning, I was walking along the street when I noticed one car tailgating another, the driver of the first honking madly at the other — a futile exercise given that neither was going anywhere fast in light of rush-hour traffic. This was in total contrast to what I saw just a few moments later.

I had turned into the park to set my small dog on unsuspecting squirrels when I saw a couple meandering along the path. Unlike the angry driver, they were in no hurry as they strolled along appreciating every little thing they set their eyes on.

Want more joy? Look at your world through someone else’s eyes.

As a result of a brief exchange we had (She: “Has your dog ever caught one?” Me: “No, thank God.”), I learned they were visiting from Ottawa. As I followed a few steps behind them, I overheard the woman singing the praises of this place I call home.

She remarked on the beauty of the building behind her; my local library. She pointed to the adjacent apartment. “Imagine living there and looking out onto this park every morning.”

She stopped and looked at a small fairy door hinged to the foot of a big maple tree. Her husband opened the door and they peered inside, delighting over the miniature dolls and plastic dog some children had placed in the tree hollow. An elderly lady stopped and explained how the toys come and go, depending on who’s been playing make-believe that day.

As I walked on, I began to view my surroundings through her eyes and it got me thinking how we can get so busy thinking about what we want that we often forget to enjoy what we already have.

40 ways to find joy in your everyday life >

Want more joy? Look to your own neighbourhood first.

A little further into the park, I noticed a small group of women doing yoga on the grass. I spotted a 30-something man shooting hoops on an otherwise empty court. I saw staff from our local community centre setting up tables and canopies in preparation for a senior’s get-together. Yoga and basketball may not be your thing. Chances are you’re not even close to retirement. But I’d venture to guess there’s something that lights your fire within a 5km radius of your home.

I’d also go out on a limb and say there’s joy to be had within a block or two. You might reap joy from a pretty planter in a neighbour’s front yard or a colourful piece of graffiti. You might reap joy from the face of that grumpy convenience store owner who finally breaks into a smile because, unlike everyone else, you took the time to ask him how he was and stayed long enough to hear the answer. Or you might reap joy from a pottery workshop at your local community centre.

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Want more joy? Take advantage of what your community offers.

I’m not just referring to ccommunity centres, although most offer a good assortment of affordable classes where you can indulge in something that interests you and meet like-minded people. I’m talking about those less obvious, often hidden little gems. For example, I’ve just done a quick scan of the event calendar in my local paper and learned about free concerts, guided historical walks, afternoon movies at the library, a clothing swap taking place at the hair salon I go to, and a psychic offering readings at a local coffee shop!

Inspiration: Quotes on finding joy in the simple things >

Familiar with Meetup? If you want more joy, you might want to get acquainted. Meetup is a web-based service that lets you enter your interests and postal code and get details about “meetups” of like-minded people happening in venues near you. Want to learn Spanish? Hone your writing skills? Play frisbee? Talk philosophy with people who understand your language? Look for a group near you. If you can’t find one, you can use Meetup to create one.

It is not enough to simply want more joy. We have to be willing to look for it.

We may aspire to finding the perfect partner, travelling the world, or becoming a successful entrepreneur. These are all valid aspirations and fulfilling them may indeed complete us. But what about the moments between now and when our dreams come true? Shouldn’t we strive to enjoy the journey, as well as the destination?

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While scenic parks, friendly neighbours, and community events may, in and of themselves, not be enough to satisfy our greater pursuit of happiness, they can certainly quench our thirst for joy plenty enough to sustain us along the way. Embrace enough of them, and we may even discover that the light we’re hoping to find at the end of the tunnel is already surrounding us.

Want more joy? Go find yourself some today. I bet you it’s just a stone’s throw away.

Viv for today xo

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