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The word of the year — or at least January

We’re just about a week in, and so far, 2019 appears to be a bit of an ass-kicker.

I’ve talked to a friend whose business was broken into, another who was feeling useless in her company, another who’s getting pushed out of his job at the company he helped build. My husband came close to falling victim to an unexpected round of layoffs. A fellow mom had to endure a three-hour plane ride with her three young children — one of whom came down with a violent case of diarrhea shortly after takeoff.

I mean, damn.

So I may get a couple of eye rolls when I throw out my word of the year — or at least the way I’m kicking things off. It’s joy.

“Joy” is such an interesting word to me. “Happiness” is good, but a little benign. “Ecstatic” is kind of aggressive. “Thrilled” is great but hard to sustain beyond announcing the birth of a new baby or something.

“Joy,” on the other hand, can be a permanent state of being or a momentary flash of emotion. That little emoji with the big smile and the tears running down its face? I’ve always thought that meant I was laughing so hard I was crying. Turns out, the emoji translates (according to my phone) to joy.

The word came to me like a slap in the face right before the new year, when I was at a yoga retreat with a couple of girlfriends in Asheville. We had just created vision boards for the year, and I threw out some words I wanted to embody in 2019: Fire (for the intense energy and passion I want to bring to my business), creativity (so I don’t lose sight of why I love what I do), and positivity (because, well, what’s the alternative?). Then, just as we were told to stop writing and to start another round of chanting or something, the word “JOY” flashed big in my mind. I was overcome by it. And if it weren’t for fear of pissing off the yoga instructor (who just the day before had put us through a round of punishing poses), I would have dropped down onto my stomach and scribbled it onto my vision board, surrounded by lots of colorful hearts.

I don’t know why it popped into my head, but now I’ve turned it into a kind of mantra for the year: Find the joy. Every day is full of frustration and chaos and bad news and tripping hazards. You can sink down into all that and wallow around like a pig in, well, you know. Or you can take a step back and find the joy. Chances are, it’s there. You’re just not used to seeing it. It’s that silver lining we always hear about but so often struggle to find.

I’m not gonna lie: So far, I’m not an expert. But it has already completely shifted my mindset heading into this year. I’m seeing hope and possibility where before I would see irritation and roadblocks. And my goal is to pass some of that positivity along to combat the challenges this year is already bringing our way.

To that end, we’ll be talking a lot about joy this month on Brave New Word. Follow us and let me know where you’re finding the joy.

Even better, let me know what your word is for 2019. Can’t wait to hear.


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