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Cultivating Joy

by Tamunoibifiri Fombo

This is a love letter to you on your journey – figuring it out is a process and it is only when we live that we learn.

Writing about joy is making me question my understanding of joy and what it means to me. Maybe I am unable to define joy because it is uniquely different for everyone even though it can be similar. I can’t define joy but I know what joy is, I have experienced shades of joy by myself and with other people. I also hope everyone experiences joy at some point in their life, if not always.

Yesterday, I was grumpy. My emotions were all over the place and I low-key looked for every reason to cry even when I didn’t want to. I thought about all the terrible things happening and it made sense to be sad – not just sad, but very sad and to stay sad. 

Today, I spoke to a friend who said I seem to have changed. It’s not news to me because sometimes, I think about how I am quite different than who I used to be – a both good and concerning thought. Concerning because I used to be very bubbly before and shared this energy with others through my social media and daily life. I used to be excited about things including cooking and baking. I used to bake into the early morning even if I got back from school late, it brought me some calm and made me happy. 

In recent times, I am less bubbly, I have very low energy for socialization, I don’t cook and bake frequently, I don’t dance as much while recording myself and I don’t share stories with people on the internet.

This is the difference my friend is referring to when she says “Firi. You have become different.” 

I notice it too and tell myself, “It’s okay. Life happens and people also experience some change.”

Today, I want to remind myself and also remind you that it’s okay to be different. But you know what I think is not okay? Completely letting go of the things that bring us joy and happiness.

The chaos of life is never ending and of course, we don’t have any immunity to chaos. But, it’s possible for us to intentionally try to cultivate joy.



try to acquire or develop (a quality, sentiment, or skill).

A few things that bring me some form of joy include:

  • Being in community with friends – my chosen family;
  • Listening to upbeat and throwback afrobeat music and dancing;
  • Discovering new art – it could be any form of art;
  • Reflecting on things that made me laugh in the past or the progress I have made in my life so far;
  • Getting lost in my mind visualizing the wholesome moments I shared by myself and with other people;
  • Daydreaming into a future that is healthy for everyone, especially Black people because we have had too much nonsense and we deserve way better; and
  • Reading a good book that takes my mind on a nostalgic or familiar trip. 

Wow!! Writing this makes me realize that so many things, both big and small, give me joy. But most of all, being in the moment allows me to notice those things and helps me fully maximize that joy so I can escape to that moment when joy seems far-fetched.

I hope you find different ways to cultivate joy and to fully experience it even in chaotic times. Whatever joy means to you, hold on to it. Write about it, talk about it, think about it, dream about it and live in it.

I sincerely hope you experience joy within and you are able to share it with the people around you as you share it with yourself. You deserve joy and rest.

Live freely.

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