Joy is interesting. In my own life there have been times joy was plentiful and an easy state of being to achieve – and at other times something that has seemed elusive and lacking. Most recently, I have been in a season of life where joy seems to be elusive and lacking. Some of that can be attributed to the challenges of parenting through the obstacle course that is our reality. But some of it can be attributed to the simple fact that I have a very bad habit of putting my own well being dead last on my to-do list.
True confession – there have been many occasions in recent months when my husband has flat-out asked me what I need to be happy. There was even one specific occasion I can think of where he looked at me and asked, “Where did your joy go?” It’s one thing to know in my heart that I am lingering too frequently in the dark. It’s another thing entirely for the person who knows me best in this whole world, to see me lingering in the dark and put voice to the fact that I have lost my joy. So when I was offered the opportunity to read and review an advanced copy of The Joy Plan by Kaia Roman, I did not hesitate.
The Joy Plan has been referred to as a “practical memoir”. It is part the very honest journey of one woman and part research backed scientific and psychological “plan” for cultivating joy. The combination of these two very different perspectives hooked me from the start. I love the rawness of a well told personal story and my inner geek loves anything that has solid research as a backdrop. Roman delivers on both as she weaves her own experiments in cultivating joy into a deeply personal account of the why and how she sought out and successfully increased her own levels of joy. She then takes it a step further and outlines a plan that others can follow to increase their own levels of joy.
Most importantly to me, Roman is honest. She is honest in how she lets us into her journey. She is honest about the choices she made that were ultimately joy stealers and the choices she made to help replace those joy stealers with joy builders. She does not pretend to assume that her joy plan is “the joy plan”. She shares her experiences, what worked, what didn’t, and provides some tools that readers may choose to use as a piece of their own joy plan – but she all does all of that while managing to steer clear of the “shall and must” territory that bogs down so many self-help type books.
My hunch is that The Joy Plan is a book that I will revisit sections of over and over. There is no doubt in my mind that at this point in my life, I need a joy plan of my own. As no two personal realities are the same, no two joy plans will be the same. Reading The Joy Plan gave me some inspiration and ideas for implementing a joy plan of my very own. I don’t think it will be quite as systematic as Roman’s plan, but hopefully the outcome will be the same. After all, it truly is the journey that counts, not the destination. And since I have a tendency to get derailed by the minutia, having another reminder to embrace joy on my journey is welcomed and helpful.