I’m assuming your answer is a hearty ‘YES PLEASE! I’ll take more joy!’, mine certainly is.
Joy is described as a feeling of great pleasure or happiness and over recent months and years I have been learning more about joy and what it really means to choose joy in your life. Allow me to explain…
Joy and pain can co-exist
I’ve been on the personal development path since I was a teenager and in the early days there was lots of intensity around life, learning, hardships, losses etc. Of course there is always is a certain amount of contraction around challenges, but I felt I needed to keep my nose to the grindstone and focus on all the hard stuff until I was able to explain it away and ‘heal’. Then I could be happy and joyful – right?
I wasn’t wrong, but it wasn’t fun. There is of course work that needs to be done to progress and heal in this life, patterns to break and dreams to create. BUT what I have realised since then is there are always going to be challenges and losses, the layers of your own personal development onion will never end, and if you take the approach of ‘work first and enjoy later’ you may be denying yourself good times.
What I now believe to be true is we can reach for and cultivate joy in the midst of some of life’s biggest challenges, and I 100% recommend gorging on as much joy in the time between hard things as possible, as you never know when the next human experience is going to drop in. To a certain extent we can choose what we focus on, I have found that focusing excessively on the hard stuff doesn’t help. We can check in with the challenges, do the work, take care of ourselves, make progress, be present with the feelings AND choose to spend time on joyful experiences.
Caveat: this is not to say that when you are in the middle of the dark night of the soul or reeling from yet another part of your life getting derailed that you need to be joyful. Far from it – I am a big fan of being as messy as you need to be (without hurting yourself or others), taking as long as it takes to find your feet and honouring your pain to the fullest.
Anecdote on joy and pain
Over the last few years we have all been through the mill with Covid, on top of whatever life issues we had going on already. I had some very deep emotional and physical stuff to deal with over the last few years, I’m not ready to share the details so I hope this helps anyway. Life was full of grief and pain and fear for the future, it was one of those ‘I don’t know how I will live through this’ type of things. Of course I spent a lot of time with myself and my feelings, and doing the work – I actually had a consistent morning pages practice for 4-5 months, which is a big undertaking (45 mins of writing every morning).
It was a really hard time, but I chose to compartmentalise the challenging and painful parts, partly because life and work must go on. And I committed to finding joy in as many places as I could, even if it was for 5 mins of the day. As this practice went on I started to feel truly joyful more and more of the time, even though I was still going through it. What I found was I didn’t have to ‘live’ in the pain and hardship, I could visit when it was helpful and important, and I could put it down when I needed some respite.
The result was I experienced more joy, because I actively chose to.
How to cultivate joy
If you’re in the messy middle of a really hard thing, please first show yourself as much compassion and understanding as you can muster and if this approach is not right for you now, leave it and come back to it another time. If you’re in the messy middle AND you feel drawn to this approach, please make sure you are taking exquisitely good care of yourself, meaning support team, therapist, coach, lots of down time and deeply honouring your all your feelings.
That said here are my suggestions for how to cultivate joy in your life:
- Make time to do the things that bring you joy (this is the obvious one right?!)
- Give yourself time and space to focus on the hard stuff, and time and space to focus on the fun stuff
- Fully embrace that your life is happening right now and you are allowed to enjoy it, no matter what is happening
- Dream, create and build towards heartfelt goals – this future focus creates excitement and intention
- Be disciplined about your promises/ practices – e.g. if you’re wanting to get fit, go for that run, even if you don’t feel like it
- Spend time with people who fill you up
- Buy yourself 5 – 10 small gifts, wrap them up and open them over a period of time to show yourself some love
- Choose to go have fun/ feel good/ move/ sleep – whatever you need
Good question – it’s worth bothering to choose joy as much as possible because it makes life more full, more fun and more meaningful. To be able to create a sense of lightness and high vibration, even in the dark times, will set you up so well to be especially powerful when it comes to manifesting your dreams and goals. You intuition lives in your body and is very subtle, it can be easier to tune in and hear your inner guidance when you are feeling good. And finally, why not?! It’s more fun – try it! And I am here to support and cheerlead you every step of the way.
From my heart to yours on the blog
As I'm writing this I am listening to Summer Of Love by Lonyo, and I would love for you to put it on right now, here's the link to the song on Spotify. It's a garage tune from 2000, well that feels like yesterday and it's actually 23 years ago!! OK I am going to share...
Life coaching, yoga, and spirituality all intersect in the world (or the industry) of personal development. An industry that has grown and boomed in the last decade or two. When I did my yoga teacher training 15 years ago, a lot of people didn't know what yoga was....
What is intuition? The dictionary definition of intuition is 'the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning'. I like this because we have learned that our thinking brains (the reasoning parts) are very useful but can be...