A Year Of Pure Joy Or, More Like A Raised Eyebrow?

In 2013 I was encouraged, by an influential friend, to consider a “Word of The Year.” A word to ruminate on for twelve months. This word needed to be a “seed,” germinating upwards, towards inspiration and growth. The word I chose for 2013 was “OPEN.” What did the word, “OPEN,” have to do with me and 2013? That’s the beauty of it – I didn’t have to know. I simply took possession of the word, and wrapped it around me like a warm coat. And, I waited.

 I waited. I waited for my word to divulge its meaning. So…nothing happened immediately, but I started to notice opportunities where I could apply “OPENESS” to my life. Eventually, this word helped me become more aware of opportunities. It inspired me to be “loose with the plan”. (Those who know me, know I am anything but “loose with the plan”). This word taught me to be more accepting of ideas that are not necessarily in line with my own, and I became determined to be more patient with people whom I may not understand.



 Having “a yearly word” meant that I was more alert and present, when observing my environment. I was constantly looking for ways that my word could apply to different situations. At the end of December, I packed up “OPEN,” like a Christmas ornament. I didn’t even get a chance to shelve it before “JOY” appeared like a bullet.

My word for 2014 was tough. The dictionary defines “JOY” as: “great pleasure and happiness,” however to me, the word behaved more like a parent with a raised eyebrow. Every time I lost my temper with a sales rep, or complained about my circumstances, “JOY” chastised me.  “Really? You truly can’t find anything great to celebrate in this situation? Tsk Tsk.”


 “JOY” was more challenging than my hippie word from last year. “OPEN” was all flowers and butterflies, when compared to the concept of “JOY.” I sucked “big-time” when it came to finding “JOY” in every situation. I even considered “deep sixing” this word for a new one mid-way through the year, but decided against it. I just felt that the word was chosen for a reason, so there must be something that I needed to learn.

 Month-by-month, the feeling of “JOY” started to become more reflexive – less of a conscious decision, and more of a disposition. Don’t be mistaken, I still fail miserably in my embryonic efforts to be “JOYful.” Just last Sunday, a waitress, whose pace was glacial, received my death stare. She totally messed with my “JOY-mo-jo.”

Beautiful smiling cute baby

 But, something changed inside of me – I was infected with the “JOY” virus, and guess what? It’s still spreading. In fact, the more I feed, and focus on it, the more it grows. And, not linearly, but logarithmically!

 I learned another lesson from “JOY” this year. The more “JOY” I have, the more firmly planted my feet are in the presence of the tumultuous winds that comprise my life. Specifically, no matter what life throws at me, “JOY” is the trump card that says, “I win every time because no matter what, there is “JOY” to be found in all things.”

 And, even though it was shaky at the beginning, it looks like maybe I learned a thing or two about “JOY” this year.


 As I write this blog, my special word for 2015 is reaching out to take my hand. I am not ready to share my new word yet, but I will soon! What it may teach me, I do not know, but I am excited to have a new portal through which to focus and learn!

 I wish you all the best this holiday season, and “enJOY” all that it has to offer!!

 What is your “focus word” this year?

4 Responses

  1. Halfway through your article I knew my word for the year would be joy then was delighted to hear that was your word as well! The last couple of years have been lacking in that department so I’m really going to make an effort to find joy in my daily life.

  2. I’ve decided my word is “release”. Release the weight, release the fear of change, release things that don’t bring me joy.

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Dr. Denniston is a wellness strategist for elite leaders and their teams, bridging the connection between personal well-being and professional success. She provides custom solutions for burnout and stress and facilitates cohesive habit-training strategies that maximize vitality, productivity, and resilience.

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