When I was growing up, I hated my middle name — Joy.
Whenever my teachers called out my name, I'd shrink down into my seat. At that age, having your name double as a noun or verb seemed like an embarrassing thing. But as I grew older and developed a slightly wider emotional range (think Riley's character from Pixar animation, Inside Out), I started to realise that joy was one of the grandest emotions one could experience in life. Instead of feeling embarrassed, joy became a source of curiosity. It wasn't long before it turned into a mission for me — one grounded on spreading joy's simple exuberance.
Like most things in life, joy means something different to everyone. Your state of mind, the things you value, and your personality type all shape what happiness means to you. Since these variables can change at any time, so do our metaphorical joy milestones and goalposts. In 2010, the Singapore Mental Health Study (SMHS) spearheaded by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) revealed that one in 17 people in Singapore has suffered from major depressive disorders at some point in their life, while alcohol abuse and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) affect one in 32 and one in 33 people, respectively. Other reports have indicated a rising number of people seeking help for depression every year, particularly so for those aged between 20 to 29.
I don't think joy is something that you can strive for, nor is it just a happy coincidence. It takes a willingness to be introspective, to shift our perspectives, and to re-evaluate our lifestyle habits. Where then does the sweet spot lie? It's situated somewhere between acknowledging and finding a harmonious balance between our mind, body, and spirit. It's achieving this balance that most people grapple with.
There's also a lack of awareness about some of the most basic things — such as diet and stress management — that affect our mental wellbeing. With this in mind, we're looking to shed more light on these oft misunderstood areas and show you just how you can kickstart your personal journey to joy. As you'll discover, small changes can indeed leave a big impact.
The first part of the joy series will explore how changes to our immediate environment can clear the way for new possibilities. Once we've created more space in our lives, part two and three of the series will have us looking inwards to examine the relationships between our diet, exercise, and mental wellbeing.
In parts four, five, and six, we'll address the mind-body connection while sharing about various techniques you can employ to bring about more clarity and awareness. Whether it's laughter, art, or dance therapy, you'll find all kinds of healing modalities and systems to suit any kind of disposition. Finally, we'll wrap up the Joy Series by looking at more ways to amplify joy by spreading it to those around us.
Whether you've already embarked on seeking joy in your life or are just beginning to awaken to that idea, we hope you'll enjoy the ride.