Main Street News


By Published On: January 2nd, 2024

By now, we’ve all celebrated or commemorated the arrival of 2024. Many of us have already taken the time to assess our goals and explore those areas that we need to improve upon. That way, we can make some adjustments for the year ahead. That includes getting happy! 

Collectively, we’ve all been through a lot. Today’s media continues to highlight disturbing events both here and abroad. Prior to this, the pandemic stirred up lots of fear and uncertainty, sparked financial instability, and led to political and social unrest. It’s easy to see how mental health issues have soared in recent years.

Although times have certainly been challenging, luckily there are ways to cultivate and recognize the many moments during our daily lives that are filled with joy. It’s about time we tune into that intense feeling of great pleasure and happiness. Some of you may not recall the last time you felt a radiant, steady stream of pure joy. With some help, you can boost your mood, elevate the amount of joy you experience, and feel happier.  


In recent months, there’s been a lot of discussion around “microjoy.” This is the practice of uncovering joy and finding hope at any moment and under any circumstance. Microjoys are accessible to everyone, regardless of the stress and worries that swirl about their lives. 

Whether you’re unhappy with your current job, stressed with your role as caretaker for a parent, or trying desperately to keep your marriage stitched together, you can still cultivate a sense of joy and recognize the special occurrences and treasures all around you – the person who waited an extra minute to hold the door open for you while you exited a store or that colorful bird singing a melodious tune outside your window.

A recent article in NPR cited an analysis released from scientists who conducted a research initiative entitled, The BIG JOY Project. It finds that people who commit daily “micro-acts” of joy experience a 25% boost in emotional well-being over the course of a week. A collaboration between UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and other research institutions, The BIG JOY Project is an ongoing initiative.

These “micro-acts” may involve paying for a cup of coffee for the stranger next to you at a local cafe, taking the time to acknowledge the hard work or success of those around you, or offering to pick up your neighbor’s children from school.

Finding hope

Need some inspiration? Cyndie Spiegel’s book, Microjoys: Finding Hope (Especially) When Life Is Not Okay promotes the concept that darkness and pain can coexist alongside light and joy. 

A keynote speaker, Spiegel rallies audiences to lead more boldly and refine their mindsets for good. A former adjunct professor at Parsons School of Design and Fashion Institute of Technology, she holds a master of professional studies. Spiegel is also certified in applied positive psychology and is a trained yoga and meditation teacher. 

“Microjoys are the hidden wisdom, long-ago memories, subtle treasures, and ordinary delights that surround us: a polka-dot glass on a thrift store shelf. A dear friend’s kindness at just the right time. The neighborhood spice shop. A beloved family tradition. The simple quietude of being in love. A cherished chai recipe,” said the author. 

Spiegel began recognizing “microjoys” during a challenging year when she experienced a series of unprecedented and devastating losses. She discovered that fleeting moments of hope helped her get through each day with more ease, comfort, and joy.

Through narrative essays and prompts, Spiegel’s book shares the many microjoys that have kept her going through tough times and shows us how we can learn to see the microjoys in our own lives. 

“Microjoys don’t change the truth of loss or make grief any more convenient, but they allow us to temporarily touch joy, keeping us buoyed and moving forward, one moment at a time,” said Spiegel. 

Microjoys: Finding Hope (Especially) When Life Is Not Okay can be ordered from Oblong Books in Rhinebeck (64222 Montgomery St., (845) 876-0500) or Millerton (26 Main St., (518) 789-3797) or online at 

The BIG JOY Project

The NPR article referenced earlier, cited that these micro-acts have been linked to emotional well-being in prior published studies. Examples include making a gratitude list or journal or engaging in acts of kindness such as visiting a sick neighbor or doing a nice gesture for a friend – or a stranger.

Some micro-acts involve celebrating another person’s joy, engaging in self-reflection, meditating, or taking the time to identify the silver lining in a bad situation. This is known as “positive reframing.”

As of press time, the researchers had preliminary results from over 81,793 participants in more than 206 countries. So far, 319,298 micro-acts of joy had been committed. Scientists are still trying to uncover many facets of this concept such as how performing micro-acts of joy can change how people feel in the short-term; and whether completing a micro-act early in the day sustains benefits over the course of the whole day. 

Other key areas of interest include determining if performing micro-acts have an additive effect over the whole week; how each act impacts positive affect and negative affect and the balance between the two; and if we see differences by age, race/ethnicity, sociodemographics, geography, and baseline levels of well-being and life stress. 

Those who want to join The BIG JOY Project or read more about it, can visit •