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Some Observations: January's #SharedDelightsGrow Practice

Sunrise over houses and trees
The final sunrise of 2023 was a delight. Photo by Karen Kelley

We're in the third week of January's #SharedDelightsGrow practice, so I'm checking in today with some observations.


Observation #1: Capturing photos of the things that delight me adds an extra challenge.

As I've mentioned before, I was introduced to the noting delights practice by Ross Gay in The Book of Delights. Ross's practice is to note the things that delight him and then use a frame to turn it into a daily writing practice: draft an essay in 30 minutes, by hand. I originally did the same thing, although not everyday. Because I wanted to model the practice and invite others to share in it, I have adapted it a bit for my social media accounts on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook. This adaptation has included adding a photo and shortening the writing part. In fact, on social media, the shares are mostly a photo and noting the delight.


For instance, yesterday morning as I was brushing my teeth, under the close supervision of Grace Carnell, I noted a couple of white hairs on the top of her left ear. It was absolutely a delight, and I spent quite a bit of time thinking about how I spend lots of time with her everyday, and this was the first time I'd noted those white hairs. I even thought, "This is my delight for today!"

A brown and black striped cat sitting on a table, facing toward us.
Grace Carnell, Supervisor

Although it was a delight, it didn't turn out to be the one I shared because I couldn't get a photo of the white hairs. I have noted it, though, and if I wanted to engage in a writing practice about it, it would be an interesting exercise. And after the "official" end of this practice comes, I may go back to sharing delights on social media (with photos) from time-to-time. We'll see!


Observation #2: Witnessing others' delights is its own kind of delight.

My two core values are interconnection and impermanence, so it's actually not surprising to me that witnessing the delights that others share is its own kind of delight. The most surprising part, though, is that I find myself looking forward to seeing what others share.


In imagining the #SharedDelightsGrow practice, I thought I'd enjoy this different way of connecting with others, but I hadn't anticipated how the practice would easefully move into becoming an important part of my day, like sitting meditation, my cup of coffee, and tending the cats. Creating the daily post for everyone to share their delights on the #SharedDelightsGrow thread on the Kitchen Forum has become an integral part of my morning routine. There's an unexpected feeling of disappointment if I go to do it and there aren't some new delights since I silenced my phone before bed. And there's a sense of anticipation when I see the notification of new posts that goes something like, "OH! OH! I wonder what delights have been shared?!" I can't think of a time I've read one of the delights and not thought, "That's a good one!" or "Oh, that's happened to me!" or "Wow, this has given me something to think about."


It's occurred to me that quite often when someone shares an experience with me, it's of something unpleasant-- bad customer service, frustrating interaction with a co-worker or loved one, or an unexpected and costly repair. Not unexpected-- our brains are wired to note the unpleasant and dangerous. There's a different energy, though, to sharing the delightful and thinking, "Me, too!".


Observation #3: Delights are everywhere.

The more shared delights I read, the more I realize they are everywhere. Here's an incomplete list of delights that have been shared:

  • Sunrise, including the colors that emerge during sunrise

  • Toys all over a living room, which is evidence of safe and content children playing together

  • Holiday lights display, especially after kind of forgetting the previous delight of holiday lights displays

  • Taking the time to clean and straighten a workspace before beginning work

  • Unexpected care of strangers:

    • fellow diners wishing a Happy New Year

    • person working the counter while waiting to pick up a carryout order

    • a police officer who noticed someone driving slowly while looking for an unfamiliar address

    • the care of an optometrist in examining and explaining each step of the exam and the state of the examinee's eyeballs

    • curbside pickup service provider

  • Companion animals

  • The sound of wild turkeys

  • Growth of work teammates

  • Unexpected morning nap and awakening without an alarm in time for an appointment, which felt like the Universe said, "I got you."

  • Spending time with loved ones

In witnessing each of these delights, I'm reminded of a teaching from Dr. Brené Brown about trust being built in small, mundane ways, not big, sweeping ones. If you would've asked me about delight before discovering this practice, my mind likely would have started scrambling for trips, concerts, my wedding day, graduation days, etc. Not that those weren't full of delights, but this practice is really about noting the stuff that's all around me, in every moment, that sparks a smile, or a giggle, or a warm feeling, or a "I'm so glad this is in my life" thought.

Footprints in snowy front yard with houses on the other side of the street
Footprints in snow are a delight. Photo by Melissa Updike

Observation #4: The noting delights practice is easily adaptable.

Oftentimes when Loretta and I facilitate a group practice, we begin with a check-in question, which is meant to support everyone in arriving at our time together by transitioning from where we've been to where we are. I've now been in two groups with Loretta in the last week-- one was a group we were co-facilitating, the other was a meeting that Loretta was chairing-- where Loretta explained the practice and invited people to share a delight. [Side note: Somebody sharing the delight practice= delight!]


It's made me realize this practice is quite adaptable because it's easily explainable and in my experience, accessible. A delight can be a word or two or more words, if participants want. I've learned all kinds of stuff, like somebody I've known for a while and been with in a bunch of Zoom meetings has a beloved dog, who happened to be on his lap today. One of the people in a group we've been facilitating for over a year graduated from IU Bloomington and actually was as a student of Ross Gay's. Another's beloved dog is deaf, so she always seems both surprised and delighted when he awakens her, an event he described with such detail and love that I got goose bumps.


Chairing a meeting or meeting a friend for coffee? I invite you to try the noting delights practice as you begin your time together.


Observation #5: Reviewing the delights we've noted helps me understand us better.

Ross shared in the preface of The Book of Delights that in reviewing the essayettes he wrote, he can see what's often on his mind, such as his garden, his mother, and racism. I've realized in reviewing the posts in the #SharedDelightsGrow thread that in even three weeks, I'm starting to see what's on my heart and mind as well as what's on the hearts and minds of those who share their delights in that sacred space. Without the practice, I'm not sure I would have the same data points that help me see and feel a sense of interconnection because we're all humans living the human experience. Our experiences aren't the same, but I recognize myself and lived experiences through the delights that others share. Witnessing and reflecting on the shared delights of others has helped me surface and understand things in myself that I didn't even realize were there.


I'm looking forward to continuing to discover what arises in the #SharedDelightsGrow practice. If you are interested in joining us, become a member of our Thought Kitchen website by clicking here and following the instructions at Sign up to be a member. Then send us a note at hello@thought-kitchen.com, and we'll get you into the #SharedDelightsGrow Kitchen Forum thread.


What delights might you note and share?

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