A little while ago, I posted a short and sweet little recipe for joy.

While I love short and sweet, I’ve decided to dig a little deeper on the subject of joy and delve into each “ingredient”.

Also a quick note on ingredient order . . .

. . . as with baking, it is essential to follow this recipe one step at a time . . . there is a reason the ingredients are listed in this particular order.

First Ingredient: Quiet the Mind

This simple and essential act is probably the most important step you can take to bring you closer to joy.  Do not confuse simple with easy, however.

Another way to think of “quieting the mind” is to “separate the mind” – that is, to step out of your left brain verbal analytical self, and shift into your right brain non-verbal spacial-awareness-connected-with-the-universe self.

There are several ways you can unplug from your busy chatty mind, opening yourself to a world of possibilities.  Here are a few techniques.  Try one or two out at least once a day for a week.

TIP:  If you find this difficult, try just 1 item for 5 minutes a day until the practice becomes second nature like riding a bike.

Simple meditation techniques:  If you already have a meditation practice, great!  If you don’t, you can try these simple practices:


1) Sit comfortably (contrary to popular belief, you do not have to sit cross legged or in full lotus to do this!) in a quiet space, eyes can be open or closed.

2) Start to pay attention to your natural breath – don’t worry about trying to change anything . . . you’re just a non judgmental observer here!

3) On each inhale, focus on the word “I”

4) On each exhale, focus on the word “am”

5) Continue breathing in “I” and out “am” for 5 minutes or longer if you wish

6) Finish your practice with simply observing your natural breath again


1) Sit comfortably

2) Observe your natural breathing rhythm

3) Gently focus your gaze on an object in front of you

4) Slowly shift your focus to seeing the entire room periphery while still gazing at your chosen object in front of you

5) Continue to gently and slowly shift your focus from the object to the periphery for 5 minutes or longer

6) Finish your practice with simply observing your natural breath again

Connect with nature:  There are many ways to connect with nature from going for a walk outside, sitting quietly with a pet, or going for a hike.  Pick your favorite activity and try it by yourself without other people to distract you.  Focus on your surroundings using your 5 senses.

What do you see?

What do you smell?

What does the wind feel like on your face?

Any activity you lose all track of time and all sense of yourself:  Whether if be a physical activity like mountain biking or going for a run, or a creative expressive activity like drawing, painting, or playing the guitar . . . make some time and lose yourself in it daily!

Flip the brain upside down and inside out by engaging in something that makes your mind puzzled and perplexed.  Examples are classic Zen Koans like this one:

Two hands clap and there is a sound. What is the sound of one hand? (隻手声あり、その声を聞け)
Recipe for Joy Ingredient 1: Quiet the Mind
Benefits include:
squamish eagle