I’m all for other people spreading joy. Me, I’m happy with minimizing misery. But to the end of improving myself I sporadically clip articles from newspapers, magazines, and the internet about confusing subjects like spreading joy.
While cleaning a file I ran across a clipping from December 2001 titled 33 Ways to Spread Joy. Like joy is jam on on a muffin. But okay, I’ll go along, though eleven years ago I probably had more optimism in my ability to improve. I’ll show a little respect for the tattered article that spent so long in a file labeled To Consider without ever being considered.
Spreading Joy Number 1: Give a homeless person something luxurious (immediately I pictured my white-gloved hand delicately giving a beribboned bottle of bath oil but the sentence continues)–a really warm blanket, a coat, or
even just a box of good cookies.
Me: Call me gutless, but also call me five feet one inch, one hundred pounds, taking calcium supplements, and a female who watches her surroundings. HOWEVER, I’m taking half credit for being unafraid to walk where the homeless sadly collect during the day, give a dollar to a few, and this very week I took four coats to the homeless shelter. Plus, I have sent money through the years. Do I pass? Enough of the justification. A policeman in uniform caused a media frenzy this week with the idea.
Spreading Joy Number 4: When you’re driving, let someone pull out of a parking lot or side street in front of you when it’s not their turn.
Me: No! A resounding no unless I see a bleeding child in the car who needs a hospital. Simple reason is it isn’t their turn (which may be every other one so what’s the big hurry) and traffic flows by common agreement. When that is broken, disrupted, or jeopardized by foolish joy spreaders, it endangers others. People begin to take advantage or become confused because a smiling person who thinks they are being helpful is expecting applause for misplaced self-satisfaction. What is that goofy driver going to do now? And what about the poor schmuck in back of the do-gooder? Is his schedule suddenly irrelevant?
Spreading Joy Number 8: If you find yourself thinking unkind thoughts about someone, try wishing them joy instead.
Me: I learned a long time ago that thinking unkindly of another doesn’t work in my head or life for many reasons, though it has more to do with my mental health and peace than spreading joy.
Spreading Joy Number 11: Bake cookies and drop them off at your local firehouse and police precinct.
Me: Does anyone really do this suggestion from the 1950s? Is that bribing police? Aren’t firemen all better chefs than me? Would they start following me?
She did have some decent ideas like snow shoveling someone else’s walk, telling someone you love him/her (assuming you do), and starting a conversation with someone who looks like they need a friend at a party. As an occasional Party Lump myself, I appreciate the last suggestion. When I’ve initiated a conversation with a Party Lump it was more for my curiosity or a fleeting hope to give public display to my magnanimous self.
I think she set the goal of 33 ways to spread joy too high and had to stretch at bit. I’d be stretched too if I had to think of 33 ways to spread joy. For appearances sake, I’ll think of four.
1. Remember that last dishy quip you and your head noise, Irma, came up with at the last board meeting? Keep it to yourself.
2. Clean the fridge. Sam will appreciate it.
3. Refrain from scowling at parents who let their children make with the dramatics in restaurants with tablecloths.
4. Do not wear revealing clothes.
It is pathetic. I’m not a joy spreader, only a misery minimizer, but I’m glad I’m friends with joy spreaders.