As someone who has “Joy” as their platform, it’s been a rough go since the election. It’s probably been a rough go for many people; regardless of your political stance, you are likely triggered in one way or another. I’ve been questioning what role joy “should” play in my life when everything around me has started feeling heavy. And what’s interesting is the astonishing power of choosing joy when you feel stuck.
These questions started hitting me right about the time I was about to publish the episode with Mark Jaffe (author of Suitcase of Happyness – you can listen to it, here.) in November. I felt something rising in me, and the questions looked little something like this:
What happens when things in life are confusing or overwhelming? how do you find joy in those moments?
What happens when it frankly just doesn’t seem “appropriate” to be sitting over here talking about joy because there’s a lot bigger shit going down in the world?
What happens when one person’s joy, or a group’s joy is made possible only at the expense of another person’s (or another group) joy?
I got pretty mad at joy for a bit. I’m not gonna lie. When I have friends and family and beloved people in my life afraid and hurting because of the political climate (and the threats to take away rights), I was starting to question why I’d keep going with this as a platform. It seemed a bit reckless and a bit naive.
It seemed like it would be nearly impossible to become politically involved, and choose joy. It seemed like it was going to be really hard to stand up for something I believed in
How can joy be something to cling to when things seem to be falling apart?
And my answer? When everything is falling apart, that is the exact time you and I should choose joy. Joy is at the heart of the coming back together. Joy is sitting there, right next to love and inclusion and togetherness and acceptance.
Joy can hold hands with activism because it uplifts humanity’s collective joy, sense of worth, and purpose. Joy isn’t just about one person. Joy is at the heart of why I hurt, because I want joy for all people, and I want joy to be a choice that everyone is making for themselves, for the betterment of all people.
If you follow Byron Katie, you’re likely familiar with her teaching that there are three kinds of business: Your business, someone else’s business, and God’s (or the Universe’s) business. If you’re feeling stuck or hurt, check to make sure you’re working on your own “business,” and not someone else’s business.
When someone chooses joy in their own heart, they stay in their own “business.” When someone decides that they love someone, they love them because that person makes their heart sing. When someone creates something filled with joy, they do it because they are passionate about the doing that thing for themselves. When someone creates anything from their heart, and share that thing with the world, they share their own joy.
What I see happening too often in this world is that people get involved with something very different than joy. Jess Lively recently noted that when hate and ego get out of control in the world, it’s the result of people living out the very dysfunctional side of their ego. Ego feeds on fear. It can spread. (listen to The Lively Show episode #185 here.)
The way to break fear, though, is following your joy. By remaining focused on “your business,” and your purpose, and following your own joy daily, you become a force for good on the planet. You offer hope to others as an offshoot of your following your own joy. It all starts with you, taking steps to follow your own joy, each day.
I’ve arrived at a place where I can see that joy is more important now than ever before. Yes, Joy can be a very unusual muse. My resolve to follow it, headstrong, and cling to it, has only strengthen with each “tough time” I’ve encountered. Joy acts as a touch stone to get me out of the funk that hard times bring. I can ask myself, is this how I want to feel, right now?
If the answer is no, then I ask, how DO I want to feel, right now?
And the answer to that question is almost always, more joyful. More connected. More present with myself.
And so each time, the feeling of ick or distrust hits, or when the world feels like it’s pressing in and hope has faded, I look for the path to joy. I ask deeper self, my intuition how to return to joy. It can start small, it can be just an inkling, but with joy in my sites, I can find my way back home.
If this post resonates with you, you might also really love a recent podcast I did on “Finding Joy in Uncertain Times.” Go listen! 🙂