For many people, the journey to achieve and enjoy happiness is ongoing. But while deep contentment and satisfaction may take a while to develop and recognize, happiness also arises in a more spontaneous version: joy. Joy is all around us. Joy feels good, connects us to life’s everyday richness, and strengthens our capacity to experience enduring contentment.
Joy is an ephemeral spark and guidepost found in simple and surprising places. Many kinds of small exchanges and little things can make us feel free, lifted, and joyful. A surge of bright joy might fill our hearts when we hear a favorite song, catch a glimpse of a firefly’s ethereal glow, taste delicious food, or laugh with a loved one. Noticing and experiencing joy in our daily lives is an enlivening, fun, and illuminating practice. Some say individual moments of joy are actually the essence of the abiding happiness we seek.
Over time, acknowledging and savoring the joy we find in the little things can help us build a happy, grateful, and full life. In these 17 quotes, renowned teachers, athletes, poets, and others celebrate the simple sources of joy.
Perfect happiness is a beautiful sunset, the giggle of a grandchild, the first snowfall. It's the little things that make happy moments, not the grand events. Joy comes in sips, not gulps.
— Sharon Draper, author and teacher
The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions — the little soon forgotten charities of a kiss or smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment, and the countless infinitesimals of pleasurable and genial feeling.
— Samuel Taylor Coleridge, writer and theologian
Something as simple and ordinary as drinking a cup of tea can bring us great joy and help us feel our connection to the Earth… Drinking a cup of tea is a pleasure we can give ourselves every day.
— Thích Nhất Hạnh
I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things… I play with the leaves. I skip down the street and run
against the wind.
— Leo Buscaglia, professor and author
In the sweetness of friendship, let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.
— Khalil Gibran
The things that I see as I walk along the streets — a little flower that blooms in May, a lovely sunset at the end of a day, someone helping a stranger along the way — that's heaven to me.
— Sam Cooke, singer and songwriter
Each moment and whatever happens thrills me with joy,
— Walt Whitman
There's something about putting on a new pair of shoes or a new shirt that gives you a new joy.
— DeAndre Hopkins, football player
They were content with each good day as it came, taking pleasure in every meal, and in every word and song.
— J.R.R. Tolkien
There is not one little blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make men rejoice.
— John Calvin, theologian
The sun looks down on nothing half so good as a household laughing together over a meal, or two friends talking over a pint of beer, or a man alone reading a book that interests him.
— C.S. Lewis
With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink, and my bended arm for a pillow — I have still joy in the midst of these things.
When you get the perfect parking space, hear your favorite song on the radio, approach a light that turns green, or find an empty seat on the bus or train, say thank you. These are all good things that you are receiving from life.
— Rhonda Byrne, author of "The Secret"
And joy is everywhere; it is in the earth's green covering of grass; in the blue serenity of the sky.
— Rabindranath Tagore, writer, composer, philosopher, and painter
I am convinced that we, as adults, must constantly cling to, affirm, and celebrate with our children those things we love; sunsets, laughter, the taste of a good meal, the warmth of a hickory fire shared by real friends, the joy of discovery and accomplishment, the constant surprises of life.
— Eliot Wigginton, writer and folklorist
I don't have to take a trip around the world or be on a yacht in the Mediterranean to have happiness. I can find it in the little things, like looking out into my backyard and seeing deer in the fields.
— Queen Latifah
Photo credit: Ron and Patty Thomas/ iStock