Another Word for Joy: Lesson 1 – The Sounds of Joy

Nagging Interdisciplinary Continuing Education (NICE) presents:

Another Word for Joy*: Lesson 1

Ready? beep

Did you click on the beep? Did you play the file? Do you know what that is? It’s one of the Sounds of Joy. It’s that beep that says there is a message on the answering machine. The beep that says somebody cares. Yes, it’s old school and nobody has an answering machine anymore because you all have cell phones and no land lines. But in my day, this was a sound of excitement and wonder. After years and years of having to be there to answer the phone, this little miracle would actually save a message for you. Amazing.

Welcome to Lesson 1: The Sounds of Joy.

I’m not going to have you play any more audio files, because I’ve learned a sweet little secret that I’m going to share with you: your imagination is just as good as an audio file. Yes, folks, the human brain does not need to have sound waves moving through the air in order to “hear” something. Let me show you with a little experiment. Take a moment to read the following words:

Thunder Crickets Wind Chimes Footsteps on a Sidewalk

Your brain takes these words and (if you aren’t trying to be too analytical) turns them into sounds. First, it turns the letters of the words into the sounds of the words. Then it will turn the word sounds into the sounds that they represent, as if you were experiencing the actual sounds. Try reading them again, and pay attention to the way your brain interprets the words and draws on past experiences to give you those sounds again.

Pretty cool, eh? The soundtrack of this lesson is in your head.

Sounds can affect your mood, your thoughts, and your physical systems. They can trigger stress or relaxation responses, they can cause excitement or lull you to sleep. In this lesson, we will become more aware of the sounds around us and how we respond to them. We will find the Sounds of Joy and use our clever brains to experience them when we need some joy in our day.

Let’s start out by noticing your reactions to these sounds (go ahead and imagine the sounds, then pay attention to how your mind and body are affected):

Crying Child Breaking Glass Sizzling Dentist Drill
Train Horn Dog Barking Crowing Rooster Motorcycles

Everyone will have a different experience. A rooster might be annoying to one person, and a fresh start to the day for someone else. Your goal is to learn what your very own Sounds of Joy are, no matter how silly or illogical. A dentist drill might be a positive sound if it makes you feel like you are taking care of yourself.

Homework #1: Listening

Carry a pen and paper or a smart phone with you as you go about your day. When you notice a sound that causes a non-neutral reaction, make a note of it. Find at least ten sounds that make your day better or worse.

Do you “tune out”? Do you find that you don’t notice the sounds around you, either because you’ve grown used to them or because your focus is elsewhere? Try being in the moment and giving your attention to the many different sounds that you hear each day. Even if you are tuning them out, they are affecting you.

While you are listening, do you hear a voice? I’m talking about your “inner voice”. Pretty much everyone has some kind of self-talk going on while they are awake. Some might refer to it in a religious context and feel that it is coming from an external source, while others feel that it is purely internal. Whatever the origin, notice if the voice is kind or critical. Remember that everything you hear affects you in some way. Voices are sounds, too.

Which brings us to the next part of our lesson. Sounds of Joy is not just about listening. It is also about making sounds. Our voices, our bodies, and our instruments help us to express our emotions. Do you sing when you are happy? Do you clap your hands? Do you reach for a banjo?

Homework #2: Make Noise

Experiment with joyful sounds. (1) Make a joyful sound with your voice: this can be a song, a giggle, or a whoop, whatever feels right to you. (2) Make a joyful sound with your body: clapping or slapping a leg might put the right emphasis on a happy moment. (3) Make a joyful sound with an instrument: this can be an instrument used in a band or a pencil on a table, whatever you have available that suits the mood. Write a few sentences about how it felt to express joy in this way. Was it enlightening? Awkward? What was your favorite way to express yourself?

Notice the background music in movies and commercials. Create background music in your head as you go about everyday tasks. Try contrasting the background music with your mood and see how if changes your perspective.

Either on paper or just in your mind, begin to gather Sounds of Joy. You might try to find one joyful sound for every letter of the alphabet (accordion, bubbling, chimes, dripping, engines, flags, etc.).

Sounds of Joy can also include word patterns such as alliteration or rhyming. If you find yourself smiling when someone says “Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers”, you might add this to your list.

Remember that your brain has amazing powers to bring back those reminders of joy with just a thought. When you are having a bad day, or you are just bored or feeling down, imagine your Sounds of Joy and feel your mood lifting.

Bonus #1

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

For Lesson 1 credit, you must either post your Homework and Bonus answers as a comment or send them to me in an e-mail by the Friday after this is posted.

*credits may apply to Bachelor of Happiness

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One Response to Another Word for Joy: Lesson 1 – The Sounds of Joy

  1. kathy says:

    You can now register and log in. your homework deadline has been extended.

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