My oldest daughter recently got her learner’s permit. This permit now allows her to practice driving a car as long as an adult is with her. She is beyond excited. So it comes at no surprise when she asks if I’ll ride around with her at least once per day.
Helping teach my daughter how to drive has leveled up her driving skills, but also taught me an important lesson: referred joy is a powerful thing.
An evening driving lesson
On one of the first days she had her permit, I took my daughter to a strip mall that had closed down for the night to let her practice parking. I brought along two big cardboard boxes and placed them in parking spaces so she could better envision what it would be like to have to navigate around other cars.
I told her “if you hit the boxes… we’re going to go home.” Then I sat back and watched her work. The surgical precision my daughter used to avoid those boxes was nothing short of impressive. She was so proud of herself… until she lost focus while backing out and bumped one of the cardboard cubes.
Of course I didn’t make her go home, but the exercise and the perceived stakes made for a fun evening.
Acknowledging the presence of referred joy
My daughter couldn’t have been happier out there driving in circles around the parking lot, and it felt SO GOOD to be able to facilitate the joy she was experiencing. All in all, I wasn’t really doing anything. I was just there riding along, giving encouragement, and maybe providing a little guidance. Still, I was able to share the joy she was having with her new adventure.
It reminded me of working in the clinic. We are very lucky to have jobs where we get to be a part of other peoples’ joy as often as we are.
Just think about it. How many times do you work with people bursting with excitement about their new furry family member or pride in the tricks their pets have learned? It’s hard not to feel those emotions with them. Think about all the times the smiles crept from their faces onto your own. Just by doing your job, you have increased their joy.
Isn’t that amazing? Referred joy is the joy one gets from being a part of someone else’s happiness. It’s a beautiful perk not thought about often enough. Yet there are so many opportunities to tap into it. All you have to do is be present. To support the smiles and excitement that come through our doors.
So, what if you paid more attention to referred joy? Simply, look for happy people you can make happier. Look for opportunities to facilitate smiles and support laughter. Then, soak up the goodness that comes from it.