Journaling To Cultivate Joy with Curiosity

JMB Living Journal coloring page for Joy

How often do you feel content with your daily life? When you are driving home from work at the end of a day or settling into bed at night, do you feel a sense of accomplishment, peace and satisfaction with the life you’re living? Even when we like our jobs and have a good home life, we can still be missing out on feelings of fulfillment because we move through each day going through the motions, rather than being present and optimizing our engagement with the world around us.

The biggest life hack for internal contentment is curiosity. Imagine if you looked at the world through the eyes of a child; how many more questions would you have about why and how things are the way they are, rather than just accepting them and letting it leave your mind. When we become curious about our surroundings and the inner workings of the world around us—the individual lives of people we pass in public, the destination of a family of ducks waddling across the street, the mechanics of a steamboat we see every day—we increase our sense of presence in our own lives while also taking full advantage of everything life has to offer.

Adapting Curiosity for Every Day Joys

When was the last time you let yourself be led by wonder? When you’re on your way to work, do you wonder what business is in the building next to yours? Do you wonder where a woman with a stroller is going as she walks on the sidewalk? Are you struck with wonder when you see a particularly beautiful sunset or perfectly dropped dew on a flower?

When we allow our attention to deeply dive into the world we live in, our presence is magnified, joy is increased and entertainment rises. Don’t know where to start? Here are some everyday areas to activate your curiosity:

1. Routine

When performing something that you do everyday (brushing teeth, driving to work, exercising, cooking, spending time with family/friends/coworkers), break your thought pattern. One way you can do this is by paying deep attention to what you’re doing by cataloging what your five senses are experiencing. Then simultaneously feel appreciation for each of your senses in turn as you do this.

Or choose to move your attention inward. Why are you completing this task? Imagine how other people might do so differently. Use your curiosity as a child would use imagination: ask as many outlandish or simple questions that come to you and create any imaginary scenarios as a fun make-believe that explains what you experience.

2. Surroundings

You can be curious about anything and everything when you look at the environment you’re in. Think about what the cubicle next to you looks like, then take a moment to appreciate what you like about your own. 

Consider why birds are flying in a specific formation and notice how beautiful that looks as your gaze follows their path in the sky. Why is construction is happening? Could it impact you in a positive way? Feel gratitude for this if so.

There are endless possibilities of ways to cultivate feelings of lightheartedness and innocent joy when you engage with your surroundings by asking questions and seeking new information.

3. Thoughts

Pay attention to when your mind is full of thoughts and when it is quiet. When do these instances occur? Are they correlated to what’s going on around you, what you’re doing or the time of day?

Choose to explore your thoughts a little deeper. When you have a thought that intrigues you, whether random or intentional, consider what beliefs, life experience or knowledge you have that contributed to the creation of that thought. Use curiosity to understand yourself while also becoming more intentional about shaping the thoughts you have to be aligned with your ideal mindset.

4. People

A popular one-person game is to make up your own backstory about people you see when you leave the house. Does the woman at the doctor’s office have a fabulous job in the city after her appointment that she has to rush back to, or is she a farmer?Are the two people in the corner at the same restaurant as you on their first date or celebrating their 5th anniversary? If they look happy and in love, see if you can acknowledge how wonderful that is and feel happy for them as well.

Even just paying attention to the people you come across each day can bring joy: noticing clothing styles, how people express themselves with accessories and what a disposition and posture can convey. See how many things you can find to appreciate in each person you see. Let that sense of appreciate flow through you and bring a smile to your face.

Humans are fascinating and have lives just as complex as yours, so why not explore and seek to learn about new perspectives and experiences? You might even be drawn to have a conversation with someone you might previously not have noticed!

5. Actions

Movement is complex: it can be jerky, fluid, robotic, graceful, automatic, accidental, powerful, subtle and unnoticeable. Watch the movement of leaves fluttering in the wind and how it contrasts with the great sweeping of the branches moved by the same breeze. How does a mother bird move differently from its chicks? Can you allow yourself to feel a sense of awe in the how well nature works?

Compare the crane to the bulldozer to the man with a jackhammer. Allow yourself to consider what causes these differences and why. Guess or Google. Consider your own actions, too! Why do you stand up straighter in one situation, but make yourself smaller in another? When do you run up the stairs, and when do you trudge down them? Become an active participant in your life with curiosity and an endless urge to understand.


woman journaling with curiosity outside

Curiosity in Your Neighborhood

Have you explored your own local area to add some variety to what you do in your town? Instead of planning a trip out, you can stay close to home, save money and support local business by becoming a tourist in your own town!

I recently was talking to someone that lives in a different part of Louisville than I do, and she told me about her recent visit to a local historical site that I had no idea was here! An easy way to cultivate every day joy is to be curious about your own surroundings! Here is a list of things to look up to find hidden gems near you:

  • Local history sights

  • Museums

  • Parks- city, state, national nearby

  • Local attractions (look on Trip Advisor)

  • Local industry (in Kentucky, this is horse farms, KFC and distilleries!)

  • Restaurants for local cuisines (you can find this in your local magazine highlights)

  • Festivals- music, cultural, art, etc.

Even if you are simply walking in your own neighborhood there is plenty to find to engage your senses and be curious about. Watch how the trees and plants change each season. Notice how the squirrels jump and skitter away. Appreciate the changes in hues of the sky or the difference in shades of green in the grass as the spring fades into summer and summer into fall. 

Journal Prompts to Awaken Your Curiosity

Without the limitations of time and money, what would you like to learn about, or learn how to do? Why do you think this appeals so to you?

Without the limitations of time and money, what places would you like to visit and why? How would you prefer to travel there? What would see? What would your wardrobe consist of? What foods would you like to try?

Consider the relationships you care most about. What aspects of the connection do you most value and why? How could you increase the depth of the relationship? Are there facets of the relationship that annoy you or trouble you in some way? Why do you think these feelings arise? 

Reflect back on the most beautiful or interesting thing you encountered today. How and why did it capture your attention?

Consider your relationship with money. Is it similar to that of your parents? How did your relationship with money begin to take shape as a child? How do these experiences still seem to impact the way you save or spend today?

Asking questions like these and stirring up your curiosity can yield a treasure trove of insights. Are there other areas of your life you might like to explore as well? Dive in. Get curious. 


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