The ROI: JOY Experiment

During the month of June, I conducted a little experiment with one hundred of my friends and acquaintances to see what would happen if we invested a very small amount of time in our own personal joy every single day.

The idea was completely selfish to start. I have found myself kind of unhappy in my adult life, even though I know I have privilege that others could not dream of having.

I recently stumbled upon the documentary, India’s Daughter. It’s about an Indian woman who was brutally gang raped because she was out after 6pm. Everyone blamed her because she knew she wasn’t supposed to be out in the evening because she is a woman. It is an unfathomable reality for women all over the world.

When I look at my life, there is absolutely zero reason to not be happy. I have every freedom and opportunity available to me. I live in, arguably, the greatest city in the world, with one of the coolest jobs in the world. I have deep, meaningful friendships, a family who loves me, and I’m healthy as fuck.

How can this be?

I started examining what I spend my time thinking about and where I was investing time in general.

I realized that I lived in the mentality of “I’ll be happy when.” I was investing time in mindless activities like Facebook. I spent time beating myself up for choosing food I didn’t think was healthy. I spent time thinking about how life would be different if I had more money or visible abs.

I spent a lot of time thinking about the past, and what I could have done differently. I spent time having anxiety about the future and trying to figure out how I could be happy.

I decided it was time for a mental shift.

If I get to choose what I’m investing my time in, what if I choose joy for a short amount of time? Would that change things? What would be the Return On Investment (ROI) in Joy?

Enter: ROI JOY

The Mission: Take at least 5 minutes everyday, and do something that brings you complete joy.

Pick something you already know brings you joy. If you have no idea, set aside time to think about what has brought you joy in the past, or think about what joy means to you. Create space to explore joy.

The Goal: Find out if investing in personal joy, daily, will affect every area of life.

The Timeframe: 30 days

I put out a blast to see if there might be others interested in taking this on. I wanted folks who were already happy, self proclaimed curmudgeons, people who could use a little boost, any and all people wanting to explore what investing in joy could do.  As it turned out, 100 other people thought it might be a valuable experiment to play with in their own lives.

I created a private Facebook group, and for 30 days gave daily topics or questions to think about pertaining to joy. I honestly had no real plan or idea of where the 30 days would lead us, but we discovered, as a group and individually, what investing in joy daily did in our lives.

It was super interesting to have a group that large because so many different things came up for people. While some had no problem knowing exactly what brought them joy and easily spent time doing it everyday, others had absolutely no idea what brought them joy because it had been so long since they felt it.

Some got frustrated or had difficulty making time, and some felt like it was a chore or a check off the “to-do” list. Some spent time in their art and being creative (see below!). Others spent time with their families or spent more time outside daily. It was a great mix.

One of the jokes of the group was,“Fuck! I guess I have to try to find time to invest in my own personal joy and happiness.”


Here are some wonderful insights discovered over the 30 days:

  • “It’s funny how being open to joy opens you up to other emotions.”
  • “My first question to myself was, “Why have I denied myself this joy for so long?”
  • “My joy, lately? Bucking up, and choosing joy.  JOY IS NOT GOING TO COME TO ME. It’s not the job of the universe, or God, or joy itself to deliver to me. I MUST CREATE IT!”
  • “It begs the question – was the joy always there and I just less aware of it? Or has thinking about joy manifested it more in my life?”
  • “Anything can be a moment of joy by simply deciding it so.”
  • ”It became less about having to build that time in and more about recognizing how much of my life is already filled with things that make me happy and excited and joyful about my life; the things I am lucky enough to get to do on a regular basis; the people I am blessed to have surrounding me; the places I am fortunate enough to visit; and the small and large adventures I have made regular parts of my life.”


As for me, I found that I already had so much joy in my life, but my thoughts and ideas of what things should look like stood in the way of experiencing joy.

I had the opportunity to work at a super cool event early in June, with some of my great friends, right after we started ROI JOY. The green room for the event was in a corner suite at The Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District. The views are almost 360 degrees of the NYC and New Jersey skyline.

My first thought when I walked in was, “Holy crap, maybe someday I’ll be able to afford to stay in a place like this with somebody.”

“Maybe someday….”

It hit me in that moment that I was already there, enjoying the beautiful views with people I love, getting paid to be there.

What if my someday was right now? Why did an experience have to look a specific way for me to think it was valid or worthy or to feel joy from it?

As I looked back over certain times in my life, I realized that I didn’t allow joy in. Even though I got exactly what I wanted or cool things happened, if they didn’t look exactly how I thought they should look, I wrote them off and didn’t recognize them for what they were.

This 30-day experiment has allowed me to recognize the joys in my life on a daily basis. It has taught me to be present and appreciate experiences in the moment for what they are. That has absolutely affected every single area of my life.

I can say, honestly, I have never been happier. Partly for making space and time for joy in my day, but mostly for being present in each moment and being able to recognize the joy that is already there.

If you are up for the challenge in your own life, give it a try! Set aside 5 minutes (or more) and invest in joy every day for 30 days. See what comes up.  It doesn’t need to replace any other feelings. Just include it. What would be the return on investment if you invested in joy everyday?


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