joy · one little word

One Little Word: 2018



Happy New Year!

I know, we’re already 16 days in! How are those resolutions coming??

Yeah, me too.

I’m not really a resolution person, and every year I say I’m not doing resolutions, but privately, I list a few new habits I’m going to pick up or lay down. But it never sticks.

Several years ago, I heard about One Little Word – the idea that you choose one word to guide your year. I love this idea because it makes me think about what I really want, it makes me find a connection between those goals, and it helps me simplify choices I make in my day-to-day life. It’s a guidepost and a reminder of what I truly value.

Every December, as the year comes to a close, and we fill that week between Christmas and New Years with lazy days, playing at the park, and wearing PJs, I try to figure out what word is going to guide me in the year to come.

This year, several words kept coming to my mind, particularly BE, SLOW, and JOY. I’ve done SLOW before, and it’s a good one, and I could chose it every year for the rest of my life and still not fully master it. But another word kept coming up in conversations and readings and even songs.


This One Little Word is different, though. In fact, I almost ditched it because I’m not sure I really know how to be joyful. Sure, I know how to have fun and how to seek things that make me happy or that give me warm, fuzzy feelings – candles and reading in bed and wine and delicious meals and time with friends and long walks and cozy blankets on cold, winter nights and a million other little things that make me smile.

But what I’ve been wrestling with is that I’m not sure any of these things are actually JOY. I think a lot of what I attribute to JOY might actually be PLEASURE. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing – there’s a lot of joy when I recount memories of these things that have brought me genuine pleasure.

A lifetime of little pleasures strung together builds a beautiful life.

But I wonder about purpose. I don’t think my life is supposed to be ALL about little momentary pleasures. My whole life can’t revolve around food and wine and books and being cozy. (Or can it?? It DOES sound pretty great….)

So, this year, instead of fully embracing it and BEING my One Little Word right off the bat, I’ve decided to spend this year diving into JOY – researching it, reading books (like this one) and articles (this and this have been interesting reads so far) and scripture and classic essays about joy. Interviewing people about what joy is for them and where they find it. Crafting a personal definition that guides me to a deep understanding joy and what it looks like in my life.


So when I start to fight this word – when I think it would be easier to choose SLOW or even BE because it feels more tangible somehow (if not attainable) – I realize that this is a perfect example of doing something for the sake of learning. Not because it’s easy, but because of what the outcome will be.

What about you? Did you choose a word for 2018? Or do you make resolutions? Or try a New Things list? (This idea is really interesting to me, too.) I’d love to hear your thoughts.




6 thoughts on “One Little Word: 2018

  1. I love this! In your exploration of joy…which I agree the meaning can be a bit elusive or perhaps just very individual…I have a suggestion. Two books that I have read The Geography of Bliss, that I read a few years ago, and The Little Book of Lykke, that I read last week, might be in order. Bliss, happiness, joy….is it just semantics?….I don’t know, but some very interesting research has been done. 😀 Interested to learn what you discover.

    1. Oooh, thanks for the suggestions! I’m making a Reading List for this year’s word – both sound great. The semantics is one thing I want to dive into – how different are these words, and are the differences individual interpretations for each person? Seems like studying the meanings is a good place to start…. Thank you, Chelsae!

  2. Yes! This is a good word choice!! I’ve thought about this word a lot, too. How does it look? Do I actually have it, and how does it compare to being content? I’m eager to learn along with you. Can’t wait to read your posts. I’m going for a phrase this year—- “why not me?” we will see what i do with it this year?

    1. I love that question, “how does it compare to being content?” So good. Also, I love your phrase – so much possibility. Can’t wait to see what happens for you….

  3. Nicole, one of the books on my wish list is The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness… by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. Sounds very interesting! Maybe add it to your list. Or if I get it and read it soon, will mail to you. Btw, I have always thought you have more joy than anyone I know – and you share it wherever you go!


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