Next Exit, Joy


It’s so unfortunate that today’s society makes it difficult to take a breather. Our brains are multi-tasked to the max and simple things that give us joy are oftentimes overrun by our obsession with surviving. Our minds become a mangled maze of freeways and toll roads with no off ramps or rest areas. This must stop! We have to consciously create a Joy Exit at least three times a day or happiness may elude us.

Staying in hamster-wheel mode provokes some of us to become dependent on artificial joy—pleasures found outside of ourselves such as drugs, alcohol, food, sex or gambling. We shift into higher and higher gears, maintaining unsustainable speeds, rarely stopping because we are so wrapped up in checking off the mileposts. Chronic and other killer conditions may loom just ahead.

Sometimes we slow down but only because traffic is bumper to bumper, or there are tolls where we pause briefly to take care of such responsibilities as our monthly bills, taxes, dental and medical expenses. Then we accelerate again, reeling with our need to jam it all in. We try to manage our anger and frustration at having no time for ourselves, even as our anxieties become unmanageable and end up feeding into our survival rage. I wonder if those anxieties inflame our outbreaks of violence towards one another.

More than ever, we need a Joy Exit. At least three times a day, we need to practice self-care and take ourselves out of the race. The first step is to consciously want to experience real happiness. The second is to replace our mental gearshift with a joystick. Shifting into joy mode enables us to find fulfillment in our lives, regardless of our challenges to survive. Every time we shift gears and opt for the Joy Exit, we consciously create healing moments of happiness.

Look for—or create in your mind—a “Joy Exit Ahead” sign. Do not blow past these important road markers because once you do, the distance between them may become greater.

Even in serious situations, you can create a Joy Exit. Following my neck surgery, I had to wear a brace from my neck down to my torso. I was in agony physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. But I decided to shift the joystick and hang a toy man-eating shark, a Tinky Winky doll, a pink eraser and a small “Do Not Enter” sign on the front of the brace. When people looked at me, they didn’t get sad, they laughed—creating a shared moment of amusement and joy. Their laughter lifted my spirits and moved me closer to my recovery.

Here are some Joy Exits that you can take at any time: smile at someone; soak in a bubble bath; read a good book (including mine); laugh with family and friends; take in the glorious wonders of nature; sing in the shower; dance in the rain; help someone in need; listen to music that opens your heart; and take time to smell the posies. When you take Joy Exits, you accelerate towards happiness.

by Geri Jewell

Articles in the Andy Madadian Issue; Senator Harkin — The Deaf President Movemen; Ashley Fiolek — From Pigging Out to Nutrition Classes; Humor — Part II of the “Greek Geek” Adventure; Candida — The Hands She Was Dealt; Derek Paravicini — He’s Got the Keys to the World; Geri Jewell — Next Exit, Joy; Seizure Dog — She Nose When; Long Haul Paul — What the Farkle?; China — Wang Kun Overcoming Obstacles for Art; Sharjah’s — Sheikha Jameela bint Mohammed Al Qasimi; Accountability — Employing People with Disabilities; ANDY — Music + Charity = Millions of Fans; QJMC — Team Quincy Jones Spreading Music’s Roots; Morgan’s Wonderland — An Accessible Fun-der-land; DRLC — The Blame Game in Gun Control ; ABILITY’s Crossword Puzzle; Events and Conferences…


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