For me, I begin by remembering experiences as a small girl. I was mesmerized by the stars in the sky. Looking up, I’d find myself falling in love with the entire world. It was not just the captivating bursts of light but also the deep, dark backdrop that allowed them to shine even brighter. The chirping sounds of crickets would tickle my ears while my eyes danced to follow the flash of waltzing lightening bugs. I discovered the taste of emptiness and fullness simultaneously while hungering for nothing less and nothing more. I felt complete in those small moments. This is joy. Experiencing such precious moments are possible when you clear away the debris of learned fear and step into your own brilliance.
Joy occurs in moments that seem to be unlimited by the constraints of time or space. When you are not concerned with the need to know anything, but simply wear the enchantment of being alive like a shawl wrapped around a baby. You feel your connection to something larger and so expansive that you can rest freely and breathe easy. This is joy. It is often likened to other positive states such as happiness, but unlike happiness, joy is not contingent on external and/or temporal factors. Joy can be spontaneous but is also a practice. There’s a quote, “It’s not joy that makes us grateful, but gratitude that makes us joyful.” It’s true. It’s a cultivation of awareness that stems from acceptance and surrender. When we embrace the choices we have, including the choice to remove ourselves from a situation, change the situation, or accept the situation, we can relinquish resistance and fear. This creates more space for joy.
2. What tends to prevent many people from experiencing joy?
Fear prevents people from experiencing joy. Adults are afraid of the unknown and make lots of assumptions just to feel in control. This all comes from fear. Children are especially attuned to the experience of joy because for many they have not yet experienced heavy disappointments that can cause us to protect ourselves.
3. What are 3 to 5 tips you suggest for bringing more joy to our days?
1- Learning to express and release negative emotion is a powerful step in accessing more joy. Without such negative energy, we are free to be who we really are. We can follow our heart’s desire, and we can let go of the rest. That is true living on purpose. 2- Letting go of outcomes. Things rarely go as planned…usually better or worse. Fearing the worst and fantasizing about how much better life will be when we have or do x,y, and z just sets us up to be anxious or disappointed. If I am living and acting out of fear I am not willing to take risks, and I see outcomes that do not go as hoped for as failure. This approach prevents many people from following their passion. This blocks the feeling of joy.3- Follow your passion and desire. They fuel energy and motivation, so when our behaviors are aligned with our values we experience a sense of meaning and purpose. This allows for joy to flow through us, but if we are paralyzed in fear it can be quite difficult to take action.
4- Make time for stillness, reflection, and self care. They are instrumental in allowing us to stay balanced and more joyful as a result. Many of my clients who are sensitive introverts report the same, while some extroverts site how important social connection and downtime with family can be.
5- I think the most important variable for finding and maintaining joy is listening to one’s longings and responding with love. For example, if you were caring for a child who shared how much she loved reading, dancing, singing, writing, creating, or climbing trees, you’d want to support her in doing her favorite things whatever they may be.
We all have that innocent part in us who just wants to play without concern for practicality, skill, being judged, and/or results and outcomes. That attitude of exploration and possibility that allows experimentation is what fosters joy. It’s in the act of letting go that we experience joy.