Spreading Joy vs Minimizing Misery

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

Coats I gave.

Coats I gave.

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 nypd-300sent 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.

Yesterday my friend Cynthia made ginger cookies and gave me some. She is a joy spreader.

Yesterday my friend Cynthia made ginger cookies and gave me some. She is a joy spreader.

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.

My friend Maxine made baklava. She also gave some to me and is a joy spreader.

My friend Maxine made baklava. She also gave some to me and is a joy spreader.

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.

This entry was posted in Eating is for Everyone, Not the Grocery List and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Spreading Joy vs Minimizing Misery

  1. Peggy Isaacs says:

    Oh, how I can relate to this post…

  2. Today, this is a funny post. Sounds pretty much the way I am. Spreading joy is for all the goody-two-shoes and I am not a goody-two-shoes. I’m not even a one of those shoes. But I do like to hold doors for people and help an older person find something they can’t reach or locate at the grocery store. I’ll even give directions. That is if I know how. And I donatemy junk to Goodwill.

    But as far as doing really good- well I think I have been doing that for a long time and that is caring for and housing a group of feral cats and taking in 6 stray dogs and 1 adopted dog from the shelter. And I don’t have outside money coming my way to help pay for food, vet bills, etc.

    I loved this post. You should write “humor” all the time.

    PS I am a bit taller and weigh about 110 lbs. And I take calcium and a saucer full of vitamins.

    • You sound like a true, good person. I think half my irritation with “spreading joy” is it so often sounds like a cute little thing to do like handing out stars for foreheads to five year olds or bringing attention to yourself rather than just being a decent person with manners and some cheer. Yes, well, I add a few vitamins too, and the animals sound lucky to have you.

  3. iminlike says:

    Hi! Love this post. I don’t know how much of a joy spreader I am lol. Sometimes I think I am being one only to find out that no one else thinks the same and other times it’s the exact opposite. Thanks for the comment on my other blog, http://adayontheplains.blogspot.com , I tried to reply to it but there seems to be something amiss with the stupid reply button….as it does nothing! I look forward to reading more of your blog! Have a great day!

    • Thanks for coming by. Sometimes wordpress and blogspot don’t like to work with each other. I don’t know why. But to your comment, it is odd sometimes. You can think you’re being helpful and it doesn’t come over that way and then someone will think you are when you didn’t intend it. Go figure!

  4. Cafe says:

    Helping out a Party Lump is a great thing to do! I’ve been in those situations too where I feel like such an outsider and someone taking the time and initiative to make me feel comfortable totally changes the experience for me :)

  5. When I stop and allow a car to reverse out of a parking stall, I think I am the one being filled with joy. Perhaps minimizing the misery of the other driver, but doing something nice for someone else yields a joyful spirit for myself. …nice post.

    P.s. Your website: rebeccaguevara.com doesn’t seem to be working.

  6. jannatwrites says:

    Minimizing misery is just as good as spreading joy. (I had to laugh at the not not wearing revealing clothes. For me, this could count as spreading joy! I’m happy to do what I can.)

  7. Alice says:

    Other lives are richer for your gifts, and I bet you feel richer too.

  8. tauromaja says:

    I think the point is to do something that you would like to do out of the bottom of your heart. Otherwise, it kind of sucks that you are doing something just to fulfill a guideline that sounds like it comes from Miss Manners.

    I like your take on life. Minimize misery! I AGREE!

    • Exactly my point about fulfilling guidelines and I think some people do this which isn’t entirely bad. At least it’s a start. Thanks for coming by.

      • tauromaja says:

        I think the trick there is to make it specific to you and then you’ll know how much to give. I don’t think I’d do any of the nice driver things here in Mexico, where people are very aggressive drivers; you’d never get anywhere if you did!

  9. catierobbins says:

    I enjoyed your honesty. It’s easy to go crazy with optimism, but honesty is much more interesting.

  10. You make a good point. Circumstances are everything. I’ve been in that traffic and I was always glad to be sitting in the backseat of a taxi though I must say, the drivers with the crosses hanging from the rear view mirrors made me the most nervous of all! They gave God a little more credit than I do.

  11. Thank you for number 3! I used to think our son would be fine at any restaurant because we’d been at a self-service restaurant… until we ended up having to wait 20 minutes. Oddly enough that’s too long for a toddler :) Fortunately he’s past 2 years old now.

  12. artzent says:

    I love this blog. Good points with humor. You just cannot beat it! Thanks for the visit to mine!

  13. dinkerson says:

    This is really quite brilliant. I’m not a joy spreader. I’m a practical kind of guy.

    “I’m happy with minimizing misery”, I love that.

    • Yes, I am happy with it. It would be too much responsibility to be a joy spreader unless it was with a magic wand and the person automatically received exactly what they wanted and not what I wanted for them or deemed them worthy of.

  14. Well, I officially love your blog. It made me smile. You truly are a joy spreader. LoL :-)

  15. Such a terrific post. I’d have to admit we’ve finally found a balance in our house, although not a healthy, sane one. I’m a little too over the top as a joy spreader (eat, drink, be merry–or else!), but it equals out nicely with my husband who is a little bit of a joy squisher (you’ll get nothing and like it!). It confuses the bejeebies out of the kids, which is basically the whole point.

    • Joy spreader, joy squisher–I’m a “Nice to meet you, let’s keep our distance till we know each other,” and my husband is Mr. Everybody Loves Him From the Get Go. Why do we marry our opposites if not to confuse our children?

  16. I was not going to read this but you hooked me. I am scowling whilst cleaninng the fridge in my tiniest nightie but no one can see me while I contemplate your view on letting someone pull out of a parking lot in front of me. I live on a really busy street and it’s great when someone lets me back out..so I pay it forward…For me..your cynicism brought me joy….haha!

  17. Denise Hisey says:

    I love your humor! I think it depends on the day whether I’m spreading joy or just minimizing misery! Hopefully my joy days outnumber the misery ones, though! I enjoyed your list! ;-)

  18. i love the comparison of spreading joy to jam. On the other hand, isn’t wearing revealing clothes spreading joy?

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