There’s a lot of emphasis on finding joy right now, especially as this time of year bursts onto the scene. The holidays are coming up, and we know this because holiday decorations have been up since September. I actually saw a full-on Christmas tree go up in a retail store well before the pop-up costume stores had closed, and for some reason that scared me more than the window dressings in Halloween Town. And receiving countdown messages to Black Friday from retailers? Yeeks. Feels like all kinds of pressure. The idea, of course, is that you find joy by purchasing it – preferably on SALE, SALE, SALE. Now I’m not saying that you cannot find joy by using money. In fact, one of my favorite presentations I gave this year was All About Money – specifically that it is not evil and, in fact, focusing on using money as a conduit to express what you care about most can bring a lot of peace to one’s life. And to the lives of those around you. The trick, of course, is to steer your money in that finding joy process – to invest in what you love, in who you love, and in causes that matter to you; to use money as a means of expression to support what you want to see more of in the world. That’s a pretty different concept than using money to just buy more things because they are well priced, or because it’s just what you do at a certain time of year. Or when you find a good sale. Photography is something I frequently find great joy in, as do so many others. This photograph kinda shows it perfectly, actually: you don’t even have to go find joy – it literally charges right into you. Talk about an incredible perk of the job. (Shot with the Nikon D800 and Nikkor 35mm 1.4 lens) How else do we all find joy? My good friend Natalie Norton has been writing about happiness a lot lately, something she finds more attainable than joy. I love her writings, and she and I have discussed these concepts at some length fairly late into the night. Our mutual good friend Jen Bebb has built a series of empowering programs out of the What If Conference and DayCamps, focused on helping creative entrepreneurs to live the life that really matters to them. My dear friend Stuart Scott is focused on finding joy every day by being smart about what he doesn’t focus on, or respond to. He’s been living with, and battling, cancer for years and, as he shares here in this heartening interview with me, he truly takes nothing for granted and he’s quite clear on his priorities. My new friend Darren Tyler made a radical career shift and has been finding joy in caring for others. Talk about a conduit -> he built the Conduit Mission just to give back to others, most notably in Haiti, Togo, Africa and right here in the United States, focusing on the helpless and the hurting. In a similar vein, my friend Shannon Porter just launched a brand new non-profit to support friends, family, and villagers in the small islands of the Philippines rebuild after Typhoon Haiyan hit so hard so very recently. Then there’s my aptly-named friend Joy Bianchi Brown, who has asked friends and family to find joy and share it using the hashtag #joycampaign – and is sending out $5 gift cards to Starbucks just for the fun of it. I’m planning to add to her giveaways to ten lucky commenters here on the blog, as you’ll see at the end of this post. My husband, Steve Lackey, presents a series of fantastic races every year (Ramblin’ Rose Triathlons, Chapel Hill’s The Tarheel 10Miler, and Durham’s The Bull City Race Fest & Food Truck Rodeo) that bring all kinds of joy to participants – in fact, it was so clear to him and his team that these events made people happy, they just selected a new slogan for their upcoming Ramblin’ Rose events: “Bring Joy To Your World”. And my daughter, Sophie, claps in glee each month after she sees that her donation has been accepted by the ASPCA. She sends in a combination of her allowance and proceeds from fundraising bake sales/lemonade stands and has been doing this for a while. She doesn’t feel like she’s doing “the right thing” – it just truly makes her so happy to have the opportunity to give like this. It really seems a lot of joy is found by focusing on what you really care about and by actively giving to others. And racing around piles of leaves before you jump into them. (Shot with the Nikon D4 and Nikkor 24mm-70mm 2.8 lens) Who else focuses on finding joy? I’ve often enjoyed the clean, simple writing of Leo Babauta, who shares his efforts to create a personal sense of peace and joy in his popular blog, ZenHabits. I like how minimalist Joshua Becker writes about finding joy by living more by owning less on his blog Becoming Minimalist. I enjoy Kris Carr’s pursuit of joyful living on her Crazy Sexy Cancer (and now so much more) website. And I’ve been writing – and sharing some great posts from others – on how to pull it all together (without losing your mind … ish) on my work/life “balance” blog All In One Life, specifically targeting those who are trying to work, live passionate lives, and care for those they love, while finding joy in the process rather than in just racing towards the outcomes. I also delivered three programs on various subjects that all have to do with the same topic, finding joy, on creativeLIVE: 1. Work/Life Balance, This was a full-day day workshop focused on tangible ways to not just survive but to thrive in work and family life by using practical tools to achieve more peace in your every day life. 2. Health & Energy, This was two full days focused on how to care for your health and boost your energy by eating, drinking, and moving for optimal mood and energy. I was fortunate enough to be joined by some pretty impressive guest instructors: Scott Jurek, Drew Canole, Chris Brogan, Kathleen Putnam, and Steve Kamb. 3. Relationships: The Heart of Life and Business, I kicked this intense 2-day workshop off just after finishing The Children’s (un)Posing Guide and the same audience stayed for this one. The entire course was based on how to care for the connections that honestly seem to matter to us more than anything else, and how a little focused effort – and a renewed perspective – can go a very long way in life and in business. The big, awesome, truly unplanned surprise here was when participant and photographer Niall David nervously, so-beautifully proposed to his girlfriend (now fiance!), musician Whitney Nichole, live on air. I absolutely loved this – and, wow, talk about JOY. At the end of the day, there are more ways to find joy than there are not. And it takes about just as much energy to pursue a joyful life as it does to deny yourself one. The whole happier ever after thing only can happen by finding joy on a day to day basis. Here’s to knowing, no matter what, that it’s always worth the effort. And, of course, that that’s especially true when it comes to photo bombing: (Series shot with the Nikon D4 and Nikkor 85mm 1.4 lens) What brings you joy?? I’d love to help Joy in her #joycampaign. Share what lights you up in the comments below, and I’ll add to Joy’s giveaways by offering additional $5 Starbucks giveaways. Since interaction and connection matter so much, I’ll choose at least ten winners over the next couple of weeks, just from the comments here. I’d love to hear from you.