Hi everyone, and welcome to this first episode of The Serendipity Studio. I want to start by saying that what’s upcoming is not what I’d originally planned for this episode! But we’re living through some extraordinary and testing times and it just didn’t seem right to carry on as if nothing else was going on. So, while this is not going to suddenly transition to become a COVID-19 podcast, I recognise that some of the topics I was going to cover are not top of the list for most of us right now. Many of us have far more primal worries consuming us at the moment. We’re surrounded by sickness and anxiety and, inevitably, what seems important right now has changed. Because of that, these initial episodes will be tailored to these times we’re living in. How do we keep living life fully awake in the midst of everything going on around us? What does a successful life looks like when we’re self-isolating while juggling working from home and trying to home-educate kids at the same time? That, I should say, is my current situation. In this particular episode though, I want to start a conversation about staying joyful. Let’s be honest, it doesn’t feel like a time to be joyful, does it? It almost feels wrong. How can we be joyful when we’re overwhelmed by what’s going on around us? And yet, perhaps that’s precisely why we need to stay joyful now more than ever. To stop us feeling so overwhelmed. Joy is a wonderful provider of perspective. And we all know we’d benefit from a healthy dose of that right now. I grew up in a household where an ancient proverb was a regular refrain. Here’s what it said: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” Thousands of years later, science now backs up this ancient wisdom. Joy is good for our bodies and minds. In light of this, I got in touch this week with Ingrid Fetell Lee, an expert on on the subject of joy and asked her if she had any tips for finding joy in times like these. And her instant response was this: “Find ways to make someone else laugh. Often by cheering others up, it cheers ourselves up!” In a parallel vein, André Spicer, writing in the New Statesman says, “Rather than letting ourselves be seized by an epidemic of fear, we should try to occupy ourselves with common pleasures such as playing games, enjoying music and sharing stories. These activities not only improve our sense of wellbeing but also connect us with others.” In other words, we need to choose joy. Choose joyful activities. Choose to brighten up someone else’s day. And that joy will be contagious. It will affect those we spread joy to and ourselves. It’s not wrong to laugh at times like this. When everything feels so darned heavy with life right now, we need lighter, happier, more pleasurable moments and experiences to help us stay strong. We need to keep smiling. Not because of what’s happening, but to stay strong through what’s happening. Staying joyful will also help us remember that good times will return, and help us see, even now, the opportunities that this horrific moment in history is also opening up. I learnt recently that the Japanese and Chinese alphabets don’t have a single symbol for the word ‘crisis’. Instead they have an amalgamation of two symbols: one for ‘danger’ and the other for ‘good opportunity’. Let’s stop and let that sink in for a moment. If the Japanese and Chinese have this right – and I think they do – danger and opportunity are at the heart of any crisis. I don’t know about you, but I know it will do me the world of good to remember that. But, without joy, we might not have the eyes to see the opportunities. And those serendipitous possibilities will pass us by. Joy is more than a nice idea. It’s essential right now. Joyfulness triggers creativity. It opens our minds. It gives us perspective. Joy matters. And here’s a beautiful truth: Joy is not dependent on our circumstances. We don’t need to wait out this crisis for joy to be unleashed. Joy is an inner strength available to us at any time in the midst of anything. But we have to choose to unlock it. And now more than ever. Okay, that’s it for this episode. Hard as it may seem, let’s choose joy. Let’s choose some joyful activities. Let’s find ways to make someone else laugh or smile today. And tomorrow. And the next day. We can stay joyful. Watch that comedy that gives you belly laughs. Share that silly cat video. Joy just might be our best medicine right now. Let me just finish by saying that staying joyful does not mean suppressing all the other very legitimate feelings and emotions we have right now. Let’s just make sure we keep joy in the mix! Well, thanks for listening to this episode. If you haven’t already, do subscribe to it via whatever podcast app you use. Not only that, I’d be a great help if you could pop over to Apple Podcasts and leave a rating and a review. That’ll help spread the word about this podcast. Thanks, and I’ll see you next time.