This week on the show, I’m exploring the 4 pillars of joy: Inspiration, Mindfulness, Action, and Fun. If you’ve been listening awhile, you know that I think of joy as a wayfinding emotion. I have seen joy dance with people, reach out for people, even when they are in their darkest times or most difficult times. Joy can look like a tiny inkling of hope, a little nudge to call a friend or a doctor; joy looks like that second in your life, like several guests and so many of my clients have sited – that you know that there is “more” to your life than whatever your current crappy circumstances are. That you know you want more, desire more, that you personally are meant for more than what you’re experiencing right now.
This week we’ll look at one of the quotes that inspired my show, and I’m going deeper with it around HOW to find more joy. What I’ve seen in the fact that joy is a choice is that there’s more to it. Joy can be lived out in multiple ways. I see that there are patterns in how I’ve danced with joy in my life, and how I’ve seen joy be jump started in other people’s lives. That part is fascinating. I’m focusing on my favorite four patterns today, the ones I’ve started calling the four tenets or four pillars of joy.
The four pillars are:
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” – Henri Nouwen
Let’s look at the four pillars, and I’ll tell you how I see them fitting in to joy, and how they also are each very much a part of me.
In my own experience, inspiration is the tip of the iceberg of joy. You may experience inspiration in many different ways. I believe that moments of inspiration, or taking notice of the things that inspire you, are the inklings of joy.
In my journey, that inspiration came in the way of spirituality. I loved religion, and still do, for the ways that it offers a lens of how people have experienced the world. I am fascinated by the teachings of religious masters because they offer a different way of understanding our experience.
Inspiration is a way of leading us to what it is that we need to learn. Wayne Dyer talks about inspiration as the state of being in-spired, or in-spirit with the Source or the Universe. When you start to see inspiration as that moment of when joy shows you a spark of what you love, what you’re drawn to, what you’re here to do.
Mindset and Mindfulness
A lot of the guests that I have on the show are coaches. It makes sense because I’m a coach, and I know a lot of people in the field, and psychology is interesting to me.
The first step is setting your sites
I like talking about the mindfulness of joy because while you likely experience joy from day to day, the essence of jump starting your joy (if you’re not already in that headspace) is to mindfully choose it. This is why I call joy a way finding emotion. If you aim for joy or happiness, even if that’s not what your current situation is. You decide to see the good in things. You will still recognize when things are not how you’d like, but you can mindfully choose to focus on the better parts of your day, instead of the awful parts.
Some of the many guests on the show talk about mindful ways that they have been able to jump start joy – gratitude lists, recalling what they loved as a child.
I often talk about taking a moment to reflect on if you’re making a decision based on love or fear before taking action on something. If the answer is love, go forward. If you might be making a decision from fear, slow down.
Going a bit deeper
In dealing with your mindset, you can go pretty far on your own. It may take a little work, and an ability to catch yourself when you are making decisions, to figure out if you’re coming at things from a place of love or fear. The hard thing about mindfulness is that sometimes you need a jumpstart to get there. Society and our upbringings don’t always teach awareness. I imagine that most of the audience here understands what it means to be aware, and that each of you has a level of self-awareness.
I like talking to coaches about mindfulness because as a group, we’ve spent a lot of time on the topic. Sometimes, in order to get to a bigger sense of joy in your life, you need to shed some of the past, or take a new look at the way you process information. If your family of origin is naturally a negative group of people or you come from an upbringing where the predominant mindset was one of “good things only happen to some people, and we’re not those people,” or, if you were brought up equating goodness or happiness as something reliant on an external factor, you may have a harder time accepting and getting to the place where you truly believe you are good, and that you inherently have a right as a human to be happy and experience joy.
Coaches, like myself, have seen how upbringing and environment can impact one’s sense of worth and worthiness. I bring coaches on the show so you can hear another way of thinking about joy and worth and happiness. It’s my mission to bring a different mindset, or a different kind of thinking to the world so we can all get in touch with joy in a larger way. The world needs it, and you need it. I feel that joy is at the center of our purpose; when you sense joy, you’re close to what you are here to do.
I want to be careful on this –
The essence of this is not to force fit feeling happy all the time. I don’t believe you should ignore your feelings of discomfort or stress, nor should you push difficult things or thoughts away. I do believe you should dive in, get curious, and work on shifting how you think and experience things. Working with a coach, or doing work on your own, is one way of starting to get closer to joy, and making joy a more possible and central part of your day to day.
This leads us to the next piece,
The inherent piece of the quote ‘joy is a choice and we must keep choosing it’ is action.
Choosing is an action, and beyond that, often making a choice also means that you will need to take action to live out whatever that choice is.
It’s a series of choices, often that lead to a physical action.
The choices start with a mindset choice (as we’ve discussed), and then moves into something you do. It’s like that song by Clint Black about love, “It’s something that we have, not something that we do,” which was actually inspired by Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Joy is an action, an emotion, not a flat noun.
Choosing joy is not simply deciding to ignore everything and be happy, as if that was something one could force themself to do for a sustained period of time.
And by it being a choice, it’s something that you and I can both choose. Some people are naturally more inclined to be happy. That doesn’t mean that it’s out of reach for other people. We can all choose it, and, by choosing it, and acting on it, it becomes easier to choose it and act on it the next time, and the time after that.
If you treat joy as a habit, similar to the way Kate Swoboda talks about making courage a habit, it becomes part of you. You build it in by choosing it, and you make it part of your routine by making taking direct action to make joy a reality in your world, it becomes part of your day.
Note: action feels hard the first few times you take the steps. As I like to say, there’s only one first time for something. That first time can feel scary. It’s OK. Do it anyway, and then celebrate. That’s where the joy is.
Fun and Play
The last piece of the puzzle is to seek out and plan for fun.
Many adults get to a point where they are focused on “serious” things all day long, and I’ve had many clients contact me to ask about how to find more joy in their lives. It’s hard for them to slow down and make room for play or simple fun because there’s not a “measurable” end result.
The interesting thing is that as children, we’re allowed to play. The permission is built in.
If you’re looking for joy, there’s no surer way to achieve it than by building it into your schedule.
When you make room for creativity, without a set or fixed idea on the end result, you make room for joy.
There’s been quite a few guests on that talk about the creative process, and the importance of play. One of the favorite resources for practicing this idea is setting up a playdate with yourself. What kind of fun thing has been calling to you, something you’ve maybe put off for some time?
Kate Swoboda on Episode 135: The Courage Habit
The Courage Habit: How to Accept Your Fears, Release the Past, and Live Your Courageous Life by Kate Swoboda on Amazon
Suzan Colon on Episode 133: Yoga Mind
Suzan Colon’s book: Yoga Mind: Journey Beyond the Physical, 30 Days to Enhance Your Practice and Revolutionize Your Life From the Inside Out
Episode with Fred LeBlanc on Jump Start Your Joy
Episode with Julia Samuel on Jump Start Your Joy
Andrea Owen on Episode 115: How to Stop Feeling Like Shit
How to Stop Feeling Like Shit by Andrea Owen (on Amazon)
A Thousand Names of Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are by Byron Katie on Amazon
The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer on Amazon
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