The Joy Document
Creating a Midlife of Surprise and Delight
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Available November 19, 2024
Once you begin looking for joy, you can find it pretty much anywhere.
When Jennifer McGaha's grandmother was in her late eighties, Jennifer asked her what her favorite age so far had been. "Fifty-five," her grandmother answered, as though there were something magical about this stage of life, some deeper way of knowing from this vantage point. So, in her own fifty-fifth year, Jennifer began to take note. She jotted down her impressions of simple, everyday things that struck her as beautiful or humorous or intriguing and kept a list of all the accomplishments, large and small, that actually mattered to her.
These observations became Jennifer's Joy Document, a radical act of reclaiming joy and an exercise in paying attention. When you are determined to find joy, almost anything can become revelatory--an Earth Day Whole Foods errand, Claire Saffitz's fruitcake recipe, a harrowing ride in Twinkly Taxi, an evening picnic at Dvořák's Symphony No. 8, or cartwheels in the driveway. While many of us at midlife have found all the things we've strived for (the career, the better life, the organization tools), those things only go so far. And the search for something greater, something truer, begins. Through this lens, life after fifty becomes not the end or even the middle of life, but a new beginning, another grand adventure with endless opportunities to find joy. The Joy Document includes fifty rollicking and often humorous essays exploring the art of joy and inspiring the rest of us to do the same.