We all want MORE JOY in our life...right? But where do you get it? How do you manufacture it?
Well...what if all you needed to do to have more joy is to learn how to FEEL it? To experience the joy that's already available to you?
Sounds too easy and a little crazy...I know. But Sis, so often we don't allow ourself to feel...really, truly, deeply, feel our joy. And so we don't experience it. (Hello, my hand is raised.)
Brene Brown says that joy is the most vulnerable emotion humans experience. Because when we open ourselves up to hold our joy, and we let ourselves feel joy - we know from living long enough, that this state won't last forever. That troubles, hurts, sorrows, and stresses may be around the corner. So our survival brain tell us, "Beware sucker- it's a setup, don't get too attached to this feeling, it's going to be taken away." And the more heartaches, hurts, and traumas we've experienced - the stronger this warning system will be. Brene calls it foreboding joy - I call it a sad crappy way to live.
I know, because that was me. After going through a terribly hard and pain filled season that left me so dam afraid of ever feeling that depth of pain again - I shut down to joy...it felt too scary, too vulnerable, to risky. There I'd be, sitting smack in the middle of a joyful moment...with my kids, my friends, or my family and just as I began to breath it in...fear would sounds it's warning, and I'd shut down the feeling.
But then I learned another truth of Brene's. It was a gut punch that helped wake me up when I needed it. It was this....We cannot selectively numb emotions. When we numb the pain - we also numb the joy. (ouch!!) So I had to decide - did I want to walk through the rest of my life numb to it all, or did I want to risk it? I decided numbing was too high of a price to pay. I decided I wanted joy. Because the truth is - pain, hurt, heartache...it's gonna happen no matter what I do. That's just life. I could miss out on joy trying to out run pain, or I could soak in all the joy when it's there, so that when hurt did come again, I could face it with a full tank of joy.
Here's what helped me. And beautiful Sister, if you're looking for more joy- I hope it will help you too.
First - I had to learn that feeling my joy takes a conscience intentional mindset. I had to move out of fight or flight survival mode and into a mindful state. That means getting intentional about choosing joy. Set the intention to choose joy.
Second - I had to be willing to sit with the discomfort that holding joy, leaning into joy, and feeling joy created. That means choosing courage over comfort. Choose courage.
Next - Brene's work taught me that the secret weapon is GRATITUDE. Gratitude is like an express lane to our conscience mindful present self. And that's where joy lives. Not the past where hurt and heartache happened, not the fearful future where pain may return...but the PRESENT moment. That means getting intentional about gratitude. Get intentional.
Finally - I had to learn to treat gratitude like a tool, and that I must have it in my tool box. That means in those moments when joy feels scary, instead of shutting it down, you trying this. Find one honest thing, big or small, about the moment that you can be grateful for. Then say that thing...(out loud or in your head), say..."Right now, in this moment, I am grateful for (fill in the blank)...no matter what the next moment brings, right now I am grateful for (blank)." Keep repeating until you can FEEL your JOY.
Is it hard? Yep, it's damn scary to step into the vulnerability and let yourself feel your joy. But with intention, courage, and gratitude in your tool box - it can be done. And Sister - I can honestly tell you, that's when the color began to return to my life. When it went from black and white back to full color. When the beauty and wonder and the gift of living became real again. Even right there among the hard stuff. Some days joy still feels scary - and I still want to shut it down and run. But then I remember what it felt like to live in black and white- to live without joy, and that scares me more. So I pick up my tool box, dust off my courage and go back in.
Dear beautiful friend - we all deserve to feel joy. You deserve it - You deserve to live a life in full color. You deserve to feel every ounce of joy available to you. Come on- step into it. If this scared, imperfect, figuring shit out chick can do it - you can too. You've got this one messy beautiful life to live - you may as well live it with as much joy as you can!!
Sending you big love and big joy -