I was looking at one of my favorite blogs, Brooklyn Blonde, today, and one of her most recent posts titled “What Brings You Joy?”
As I clicked through and read the inspiration behind the post, I learned more about a philosophy that I thought was so interesting, I had to share it.
“Thin Slices of Joy” is the principle behind the book “Joy on Demand: The Art of Discovering the Happiness Within,” written by a former Google worker who became a mindfulness instructor at the company, eventually helping countless others find happiness. “Thin Slices of Joy” is essentially the working theory behind this book that may very well lead you to take those first steps toward finding more joy, every day.
What about the man behind the theory? Chade-Meng tan, according to this article in the New York Times, found little joy through his accomplishments and success as an engineer and programmer. Instead, it was tapping into his own awareness, finding his own small moments of gratefulness, that eventually led this self-described “constantly miserable” man to find his own joy, and then in turn lead others there.
Can one master happiness? I’m not sure. But what I do know is, all of us can take steps to recognize small things around us that lead us down the path of joy. Measurable joy. Joy that adds up, and then lifts us.
If you’re curious about the basic idea behind Tan’s theory, check out an excerpt from this Quartz article. It’s fascinating:
“In his latest book, Joy on Demand, the Google veteran describes his path from someone who was ‘constantly miserable’ to a much happier guy. How did he get there? Sometime in his mid-20s, he discovered that he wasn’t stuck with self-loathing; temperament, he found, is malleable.
Successfully reshaping your mindset, he argues, has less to do with hours of therapy and more to do with mental exercises, including one that helps you recognize ‘thin slices of joy.’
‘Right now, I’m a little thirsty, so I will drink a bit of water. And when I do that, I experience a thin slice of joy both in space and time,’ he told CBC News. ‘It’s not like ‘Yay!’’ he notes in Joy on Demand. ‘It’s like, ‘Oh, it’s kind of nice.’’
Usually these events are unremarkable: a bite of food, the sensation of stepping from a hot room to an air-conditioned room, the moment of connection in receiving a text from an old friend. Although they last two or three seconds, the moments add up, and the more you notice joy, the more you will experience joy, Tan argues.”
In practice, these steps seem similar to finding moments of gratitude. It’s training our minds and our hearts to recognize the small bits of good in the midst of the busyness and craziness of life.
And you know what? When we train ourselves to focus on positive moments, no matter how small, eventually that practice—the practice of gratefulness—becomes our tendency.
Today I invite you to practice this tenet of Tan’s philosophy. May we all, amidst the tornadoes of our days, find one moment of recognition (or ten! let’s aim high!) where we see that thin slice of joy, that it may lead us to greater happiness.3