Amount Of Time Lived In Happiness & Joy

Family grave.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Lighthelper :) Offline.

The story was set in a cemetery near a small country village. Each grave marker in the cemetery described the exact amount of time the person buried there had lived–for example, seven years, four months, two weeks, and five days. The longest life noted was eleven years and some.

A traveler who happened upon the spot was filled with grief and sadness when he realized he was in what seemed to be a children's graveyard. What terrible curse could have come upon this little village, he wondered, to cause so many children to die?

An old inhabitant of the village, coming upon the man, assured him there was no curse. Rather, he explained, in his village there was a tradition. And he pointed to a small notebook he carried on a cord around his neck.

Every child in the village was given such a notebook at the age fifteen, and wore it for the rest of his life. In it he recorded every experience of joy he felt in life, and its duration.

Winning a race in the school games-three days, four hours. The first kiss of first love-two weeks six days. Seeing a beautiful sunset-three hours. Giving birth to one's children, the marriage of a son or daughter, a plentiful harvest, a delicious meal, the birth of a grandchild… Every event and moment of happiness in life, not matter how large or small, was recorded, together with how long the experience of joy remained.

After a person had died, the total amount of time he had lived in these moments of happiness and joy was added up, and it was this total that was etched onto their gravestone. For it was only this time, the villagers believed, that the person had been truly alive.

Three of my online friends, live in joy and happiness.

Visit their blogs and learn how they do it. Each time they post they inspire me and encourage me to be more joy-filled and happy.

They are Jodi Sloan, at Joy Discovered, Joy Holland, at Ethereal Joy, and Megan Bord, at It's All About Joy. Thank you for sharing your joy so freely.

Who do you know that has truly lived?

How much of your life have you lived in happiness and joy?

Would you be willing to keep a joy and happiness journal?

{ 41 comments… add one }

  • Jay Schryer February 15, 2010, 8:04 am

    Wow, Tess. You couldn’t have picked three better examples. That Ethereal girl, in particular, really knows how to rock the happiness. She’s a constant source of positivity and good energy.
    .-= Jay Schryer´s last post…The P.I.T.A. Scale, and How it Will Change Your Life =-.

  • jenn February 15, 2010, 8:06 am

    WOW Love this post Tess. I’m off to check out their blogs. So true. We need to live in the moment and live in happiness! Life is positive energy right? Fantastic! Thanks friend!
    .-= jenn´s last post…Self doubt talk! =-.

  • Quinn February 15, 2010, 10:27 am

    Good stuff as always Tess. Our own joy and happiness are important to remember but i think we should also count the time we have given joy and happiness to others for life is something that happens in the world and the ripples we leave behind are as important as the pebble we are. if that makes scents i will try to be more cryptic next time :)
    .-= Quinn´s last post…Capturing inspiration =-.

  • Eduard @ Ideas With A Kick February 15, 2010, 11:13 am

    Wow, Tess, this is one of the most inspirational stories I ever read.

    Making every moment count is a big theme in me life right now, and in my work with my clients. Not only that I’m now giving more meaning to enjoying life than anything else, but I’m starting to feel sorry for the people who have rare moments of joy, but believe that’s all life has to offer.
    .-= Eduard @ Ideas With A Kick´s last post…Get your stuff together instead of using distractions =-.

  • Lana - DreamFollowers Blog February 15, 2010, 11:50 am

    I would love to keep such journal! I remind myself every day to count my blessings, but I do it mentally. I can imagine how much more powerful it would be be to write them down. Headed to check oout the blogs you featured Tess. Thank you!
    .-= Lana – DreamFollowers Blog´s last post…you won’t love THERE if you don’t love HERE first =-.

  • Joy February 15, 2010, 11:53 am

    What a beautifully, inspirational, joyful story! I’m on a similar quest — recording the every day joys in my own life. It’s a beautiful way to live.

  • Patrice February 15, 2010, 12:46 pm

    Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone who has “lived”. I try my best to live and be happy every single day, but there are things that get in the way. I’m currently in the process of keeping those “things” at bay and focus on being in the moment and happy no matter what. Keeping a happiness journal sounds pretty cool, but I’m not big on note taking. Its still a struggle for me to keep a food journal during my body transformation plan. Instead, I got a tattoo last year in NYC (one of my favorite places in the world) to remind me that it’s okay to be happy and patient. Thanks.
    .-= Patrice´s last post…Gay Marriage. What’s The Big Deal? =-.

  • Davina February 15, 2010, 2:07 pm

    I love this Tess! Poignant. When something appears one way and there is suddenly a new way of looking at it, that excites me. We get so locked into ways of thinking and seeing things. This is a breath of fresh air.
    .-= Davina´s last post…Life Coach for the Knobs =-.

  • Jan February 15, 2010, 2:14 pm

    Marvelous story, Tess. It offers us so much to think about in terms of how we are orienting ourselves in life. You, too, are one of the most joyous people I know and it is always a joy for ME to partake of your wisdom. I hold this lovely story close to my heart.

    I do think as the years of my life unfold I am living in greater joy. It has been a matter of orientation and receptivity. :-)
    .-= Jan´s last post…Meditation Monday – Divine Emissaries =-.

  • Tess February 15, 2010, 3:19 pm

    Yes that Ethereal girl is a good friend and all you point out is true and more!

    I think life is both positive and negative energy. I want to fill my with positive love. Hope you enjoy my friends.

    Of course that makes sense, the joy we share with others is the same joy we can’t keep from ourselves. Love your input…don’t stop!

    I think it’s important we acknowledge the unjoyful as much as the joyful. Trouble begins when we get stuck there. To feel all feelings and emotions will move us to more joy…always. When we don’t we get stuck in all kinds of addictions.

    Thanks for coming by, your ideas and input are important to us. Enjoy my friends and their blogs!

    Yes I have journals where I keep by deepest, darkest, troubled thoughts…that’s why I experience the joy and want to record every minute of it!

    Because we’re human we can’t be happy every second of every day. Life is difficult and change and trauma happen that is out of our control. I do think you should go slowly and continue being patient. I like tattoos! Anything that you can use as an anchor works;)

    Thanks and the feeling is mutual. We have history and that’s so meaningful.
    I agree as we age we experience more joy due to wisdom and blessings we’ve discovered along the way!

  • Caity February 15, 2010, 5:31 pm

    Oh my goodness I love that idea! I think that is such a great concept – to always carry around the journal to write whenever they feel most alive. I think we should always be aware that we are alive and that life is worth living and that we should always strive to find the joy and beauty in everything around us and truly grasp it.

    I have read Ethereal Joy for a while now and I agree with you that she is definitely an inspiration. I am eager to check out the other two blogs now, especially since you’ve recommended them in such high esteem.

    I like to think that my own blog is a journal like that and I’m constantly trying to find the joy in my own life. It’s my blog friends and the people in my own life that help me to see it.

  • Carolynn February 15, 2010, 6:46 pm

    I do feel I keep a journal of sorts by way of my blog. Not all days are filled with happy thoughts, although it’s my habit to look for the silver lining in all things. I give thanks for my blessings every morning and throughout the day as new things occur. Although I believe I live most of my life in joy & happiness, I wouldn’t feel the same fullness of gratitude in my heart if I hadn’t also experienced pain and disappointment at some point along the way.

  • suzen February 15, 2010, 7:13 pm

    Hi Tess! Incredible story! I really think I’ve had more time spent in joy than anything else. I’ve been told many times that my happy little demeanor can actually be quite annoying! haha! Oh too bad! My email address since our first computer in the 90’s has always been Joyisours and there’s a reason for that! :)
    .-= suzen´s last post…Discoveries in Being Hip – It’s CODE =-.

  • Patty - Why Not Start Now? February 15, 2010, 7:39 pm

    Oh, I adore this, Tess! You know, I think I’ve developed a pretty broad definition of joy and happiness. I try (not always successfully, mind you) to see joy and happiness as living right here, right now. Being alive. There’s this song, actually, by Stephen Sondheim. A few of the lyrics: “Somebody hold me too close, somebody hurt me too deep, somebody sit in my chair, and ruin my sleep, and make be aware of being alive.” To me, that’s truly experiencing all of it, no matter if it’s a melancholy day or a big, bracing, loving life kind of day. All of it seems like joy to me, or at least has the potential for it. Does that make sense?
    .-= Patty – Why Not Start Now?´s last post…Meaning Mondays: The Clouds Edition =-.

  • Lance February 15, 2010, 8:08 pm

    Wow, that story is really a powerful example of how we really “live” the moments of our life. And the three wonderful souls you mention – Jodi, Joy, and Megan…they are all such deeply joy-filled people. I consider it an honor to know all three of them, and they have all touched my life in very beautiful ways.
    .-= Lance´s last post…Sunday Thought For The Day =-.

  • jonathan figaro February 15, 2010, 8:17 pm

    Tess, your right. If we don’t live every moment as our last we will perish in regret of what could have been. We all must be in the moment and be in the essence of life from now till the casket dips!
    .-= jonathan figaro´s last post…You Can Suck On These Positive Nu… =-.

  • Robin Easton February 15, 2010, 8:29 pm

    WOW!! Dear Tess!! What POWERFUL story. Beautiful beyond words. So healing. I would have to say that although my life has had both great physical and at times emotional pain/loss, my life has been FILLED with joy. More joy than I can contain. Writing this now, I realize that that joy is my driving compulsion to love. I can’t help myself. It would kill me to hold all my joy inside. One of the easiest ways for me to share it is to love. This story reflects your own beauty, Tess.

    I also loved your last post on “no regrets”. It just captivated me, to the point I printed it out to reread. It was one powerful article. Thank you for sharing such amazing full-on bursts of joy, inspiration and love. Love, Robin xo
    .-= Robin Easton´s last post…Forgiveness =-.

  • Peggy February 15, 2010, 9:07 pm

    All three of my favorite JOY girls! Reading their blogs is one of my daily joys!

    Tess, I love the lesson in this article – to write about the joys in life and how long that joyful feeling lasts. It definitely gives me a new slant on some of what I write in my journal and my blog.

    I can honestly say I’ve been actively cultivating more joy in my life since March 17, 2004. It’s an active, conscious, mindful decision to live a happy, joyful life.
    .-= Peggy´s last post…Your Moment of Bliss ~ Ice On Paugus Bay =-.

  • Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord February 16, 2010, 6:29 am

    Tess, this post moves me in so many ways. First of all, thank you for including me among two other beautiful, joyful souls — I adore Jodi and Joy. They embody goodness, LIGHT and incredible goddess energy. WOW!

    And the story of how many years of our lives are spent happy… That has me thinking, Tess! It’s easy for me to look back and see when I really started my journey of joy, but then I wonder if I could be mindful enough to record all the joyful moments when I’m overwhelmed my good, happy feelings?
    Just sitting here now, typing this to you, makes me happy. Earlier, drinking my favorite chai latte made me happy, and at the same time, reading words from the man I love wholeheartedly made me happy.

    And even in just writing those three examples, you’ve brought up another powerful energy in me: gratitude.

    Tess, thank you; you’re a wise woman who guides me, and has taught me – in the short time we’ve known each other – how to be a better, more authentic woman. (*bow*)

    Much love,
    .-= Megan “JoyGirl!” Bord´s last post…Underwear in the Jungle! =-.

  • Michelle @ Following Your Joy February 16, 2010, 7:04 am

    Hi Tess and nice to “meet” you!

    Wow, this post really made me pause. Particularly because I launched a blog called “Following Your Joy” last year…focused on how magical life can be when we follow the things that make us come alive or bring us joy. And your post perfectly supported this message in the most powerful way! Life truly is all about those joyful moments (in fact, my latest post speaks to that exactly!).

    Special thanks to Megan Bord for calling this lovely post to my attention, and I certainly look forward to staying in touch.

    Blessings to you for a fantastic–and bold–2010!

    .-= Michelle @ Following Your Joy´s last post…What Are Your ‘Life Moments’? =-.

  • Kristy February 16, 2010, 7:29 am

    Mom, is it selfish to say that Ido believe I’ve truly lived a joyous life. There is a part of me that shares a similarity w/ you. I want something and I go for it. It’s just who I am. I can name a ton of people in my life who I have admired for their courage to make bold choices and go for it—Darcy, You, Ally Steinmetz–even Olympic athletes. I have lived a joyous nad happy life largely due to the fact I’ve never settled for anything; therefore, I’m addicted to the feeling of being joyous and happy. I mean afterall, you license plate says “happy”….it’s something I was taught to feel, to be, and to know.

  • Kristie Ryan February 16, 2010, 7:46 am

    Hi Tess,

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. What a great lesson and wake up call it is for anyone not living the life they want to live! I think writing down daily the joys I’ve experienced is a great idea. I feel like since I’ve graduated college I’ve really grown a lot and learned how to experience more joy and love, but am always looking for ways to improve that. I think that writing these down is a great way to make myself even more aware of being geared towards the life I want to live.

    I just love your articles Tess!

    .-= Kristie Ryan´s last post…The Big Three for Me =-.

  • Joy February 16, 2010, 7:59 am

    Wow. Thank you. I am honored to be in the company of such beautiful, whole, joyful spirits as Megan and Jodi. I think what an amazing party we could host at my clubhouse; put our joy in a beautiful environment, the energy would rock the Universe:)
    I don’t keep a joy journal, because truly each moment has an element of joy to it. Even the bittersweet ones are there for a reason and the freedom from being open to experience each and every moment with an open heart results in such joy:)
    My heart leaps at all that you share; you encourage us to examine our lives and celebrate all of the positive– regardless of where we are in life, there is something to celebrate. You take that and build upon it, and soon joy and peace abound! My philosophy in life is to allow so much good to infiltrate each moment–each experience– that there is no room for negative. it’s the only way I know.
    Lots of Light to you my friend!!!!
    .-= Joy´s last post…The Rose =-.

  • Mark February 16, 2010, 9:07 am

    This is a very powerful story!! Thank-you for sharing. Also thanks for sharing the links to these great sites.
    .-= Mark´s last post…Reflections Of Our Self =-.

  • Karl Staib - Work Happy Now February 16, 2010, 9:11 am

    I know that I could do a better job of living. I get lost in my goals and forget to just enjoy the simple joys of living. I love the idea of keeping a happiness journal. I’ve kept a gratitude journal which is similar, but probably brings on different feelings.

    I keep a weekly hard, fun and beautiful journal type experience on my blog. Not quite the same, but still very enjoyable.
    .-= Karl Staib – Work Happy Now´s last post…How to Use Your Skills and Passion to Create Success =-.

  • Evia February 16, 2010, 10:13 am

    Hi Tess

    What amazing ideas and content you always bring forth. This post said so much about how most of us live our lives. The photo was a perfect addition to really visualize this man standing there…..

    And thank you for highlighting 3 very special souls who indeed know the true meaning of joy!

    Another inspirational piece from you and so beautiful!
    .-= Evia´s last post…On the Pilgrimage of Life: Talking With Bernie Krausse About A Special Journey =-.

  • Cheryl Paris February 16, 2010, 12:38 pm

    Beautiful way of expressing. And this is so true as “Negative thinking” is simply a learned habit, an addiction that is fed by a toxic daily diet of bad news, unfortunate events and tales of personal traumas of others.

    We need to exercise this song from few years ago: “Don’t Worry Be Happy”

    Winston Churchill once said near the end of his life. “When I look back on all the words I have read, I remember the story of the main who said on his death bed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life that never happened”

    Great work including links to Friends blog as well.

    Cheryl Paris Blog
    .-= Cheryl Paris´s last post…How to boost your attitude to success =-.

  • Belinda Munoz February 16, 2010, 1:03 pm

    What an effective way to make an important point. It’s true that there is sadness and loss that we can’t avoid in life, but we can always return to joy and happiness if we choose to.

    WIll check out these recommended blogs. Thanks!

  • Paul February 16, 2010, 1:23 pm


    A truly inspirational post. It has certainly got me thinking about my happiness and how long I’ve been living for. Then again, am I being hard on myself, perhaps I ought to be more grateful for what I have, and allow more happiness in!

    I’m going to check out those other blogs. Thank you for sharing this.



  • Hilary February 16, 2010, 2:25 pm

    Hi Tess .. what a brilliant way to show us how much time we might spend in joy and happiness if we’re lucky, but if we change now we can add minutes and hours to our time on earth filled with joyous love.

    I love Kirsty’s comments .. lovely relationship the two of you have .. and your blogging friends are great – such lovely thoughts and ideas ..

    Hugs to you Tess – Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last post…Collop Monday , Shrove Tuesday, Amazing Grace and Ash Crosses =-.

  • Betsy Wuebker February 16, 2010, 3:26 pm

    Hi Tess – What a powerful image – a cemetery of “children” in terms of happiness years. Wouldn’t it be something if our happy time was equivalent, or at least closer, to our chronological age? Very thought-provoking. Thank you.
    .-= Betsy Wuebker´s last post…Roaming Through Michigan =-.

  • Tess February 16, 2010, 5:59 pm

    Why doesn’t that surprise me about you and your journal? Your blog is a joy and I love it when you talk about your relationship and food well OK teaching as well. You bring joy to others which means you can’t keep it from yourself.

    I absolutely agree with you, it’s the disappointment, pain etc that shows us the joy in our life. I know 2 people who are filled with joy nearly all the time.
    I am not there yet!!!

    I like you better everyday…get those paint brushes ready!

    OMG I love the words to that song and of course it makes sense. How about we start saying, “It’s all joy?” Instead of, “It’s all good!”

    Oh yes three joyful people with three joyfilled blogs! Spread the joy!

    From now till the casket dips…you’re hilarious! I do think you live life to the fullest. Especially for how young you are.

    I love ya more. I think you’re my new biggest fan;) I love how you relate feeling joy with loving. Again a new insight for me! And thank you for printing my “no regrets” article. That’s huge coming from you. That angel in the video inspired it all! We never know what we’ll learn from each other do we?

    Don’t ya love it when we make those conscious decisions? Continue to shine on and dance in the joy!

    Oh silly bowing you;) Thanks for the compliments…you are all so young and continue to blow me away with your dreams and wisdom. I’m happy to be in your life.

    Rock, roll , and run in joy forever, my sweet amazing daughter!

    I’m glad you find my blog helpful. Let me know if I can help you in anyway!

    Yes isn’t Megan the best! Welcome to the bold life and I’ll be over to read your post as well. Thanks!

    Did you say party?!? Clubhouse? Let me know the time, date and what to bring! Seriously wouldn’t that be a hoot and I love that you too find joy in sorrow and pain. You’re an example for all and I need to link to you often.
    I’m in good company for my journey home.

    You are so welcome! I printed off your last post!

    We all do things differently and I respect and honor your way as well. Don’t beat yourself up I think you do an amazing job.

    Again, how do I love thee…let me count the ways;) I’m so glad out of all the zillions of people in the blogosphere we became friends.

    I love that quote and I hadn’t heard it before. Oh yes “Don’t Worry Be Happy” has a special place in my heart. It was a theme song for my daughter and I through a difficult but joyful time.

    Don’t be hard on yourself. Just be in the joyful present and give yourself a big hug from me!

    You are one of my blogging friends!!! I care about you and tell you mom I said hello!

    What a great thought… now you got me thinking I need to triple my joy to catch up. I’m a little behind my age;)

  • Mr. Self Development February 16, 2010, 7:03 pm

    What an interesting story and concept….thanks for sharing Tess!
    .-= Mr. Self Development´s last post…Are You Going to Fail Again This Year? =-.

  • Katie West/The Levity Coach February 16, 2010, 7:45 pm

    Wow Tess. This story was moving. It really illustrates the idea of thinking about what are we filling our life with. I have been thinking so much lately of life as little snapshots of time and asking myself what is filling this or that snapshot. It has helped me to be more mindful and allow myself to be a greater vessel for joy. Thank you for your words. As always they give a great twist on how to think about something.
    .-= Katie West/The Levity Coach´s last post…Be the Agent of Change You Already Are =-.

  • Julie February 17, 2010, 5:42 am

    Tess, you’ve given us a WONDERFUL gift, here! This story is an awesome visual reminder of which direction is best for us to direct our energies every moment. I find being able to “see” something makes the impact of the lesson that much stronger, easier to integrate and access. What a terrific illustration you’ve provided! :)
    .-= Julie´s last post…Letting Go! =-.

  • Tess February 17, 2010, 9:03 am

    Mr. SD
    Thanks for stopping by I love your latest article on Dreams This Year!

    A vessel for joy! I think you are that and more with all your fun, play and laughter! I love the car dance idea.

    It was a strong “photo” for me as well. I couldn’t help sharing. I hope all is well and I’ll see you soon, hiking buddy!

  • Kristie Ryan February 17, 2010, 11:33 am

    Hi Tess,

    Thanks! You help me with each and every post already by contributing to my inspirations :)

    I thought about the idea of writing down each day the joys I felt and on second thought, I don’t think it’d be for me. I feel like being aware of my thoughts and feelings and just enjoying them as I experience them is what really matters to me. I feel like it’s a good way to start every day, by reminding myself to live with that in mind.

    I’ve also added the recommended blogs to my reader, thanks! looking forward to reading them…
    .-= Kristie Ryan´s last post…The Big Three for Me =-.

  • Jannie Funster February 17, 2010, 11:48 am

    Whoa! That was some twist in the tale!

    You so rock, Tess!!!

    .-= Jannie Funster´s last post…5 More BIG Photos — Whoo-hoo. (and a poll, in case you’d missed it in the sidebar.) =-.

  • Tess February 17, 2010, 12:21 pm

    You know what’s best for you better than I do. I say whatever works! I’m sure you’ll like the blogs of my friends!

    You too, rock on!

  • Jodi at Joy Discovered February 17, 2010, 3:39 pm

    Hi Tess!
    This is such a touching story! It really makes me wonder how many hours, days, months or years would be written on my tombstone. Thank you so much for listing Joy Discovered in your list of joy-filled blogsites, along with the wonderful Megan and Joy. What a very kind gift!! :) You have warmed my heart! xo, Jodi
    .-= Jodi at Joy Discovered´s last post…Off the Shelf: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell =-.

  • Bi Sadong November 1, 2010, 5:10 am

    I’m glad that I found this blog. It is very true that life is so short. we must be happy and be appreciative all the time.

    Thank you for sharing with us Tess.
    .-= Bi Sadong´s last post…How to attract money happiness =-.


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