Updated: Feb 18
My blogs often adopt a somber tone. I'm well aware. Just the other day I found myself justifying my writing about difficult life circumstances and offering pathways to developing resilience in light of the pain we inevitably endure. I was texting with my mom, and we landed on the topic of childhood memories when she shared that she was making a hearty cauliflower soup.
I said, "I remember your potato and lentil soups the most, mama!"
She replied, "It makes me happy that you have some good memories."
In an instant, I felt sad. Thoughts swirled. Did she believe most of my memories were painful? Was she feeling guilty about all the things we didn't do when I was little? Had she taken the content of my blogs (she reads them) to mean that the majority of my experiences have me living in discomfort?
I said, "Mom, I have mostly good memories!" She needed to know!
I recognize that many people may not be able to say this, and I work with many of you! But a large part of our work together is to begin recognizing that what we have been through, the traumas we have experienced, and the ways in which life has yanked us around, need not mean that we live without joy. Happiness is here for all of us; it may just feel more difficult to access for some of us though.
So in this blog I wanted to share with you four types of joy I'm experiencing currently. Note that none come from peak experiences, none require money, and you can apply the spirit of all of them to your own life. What's more, by paying attention more deliberately to these types of joy and really feeling it in your body when it's present, means you'll literally be changing your brain in a positive way!
Aspirational Joy: We're well into February now, but I still feel a gentle push from behind about what I chose to move toward when I defined my 2023 intentions and chose my one word. One of those intentions was to write one blog each week, and so far I've done just that. My approach has not been focused on results, but more so on the process, and I feel happy that I have made the time each week to sit down and write. If what I share impacts just one person positively, even if that person is me, I've done my job. I look forward each week to the time I will spend writing. When I write, I integrate more fully into my being something I've been pondering, wondering about, and that might need clarification. A few more areas where I feel a sense of aspirational joy include riding bikes with my husband this spring, my trip to see a good friend that I've planned for August, and my goal to see my mom more often. This type of joy is felt right now, and we can imagine what we might feel when we do the thing we're looking forward to as well. In your own life, what are you looking forward to? It can literally be anything!
Appreciative Joy: As I sit here writing, I can see my two cats curled up in their fluffy beds, peaceful and cozy. I feel my heart smile. I'm so thankful that they are here, that they are healthy, that they are happy, that they can sleep so soundly, that they are safe, and that they love their home. I love our living space too. It's important to me that where we spend our time is comfy, colorful, imbues warmth, and represents our values. I can hear the clothes dryer doing its work, and I feel grateful that we have the appliances we do. My phone vibrates, and I look at it to find a text from my husband with a link for a potential adventure. I feel thankful that we share our love for the outdoors and that he wants to spend time with me! The music playing in the background is a longing, melancholy piano that I cherish. I was drawn to the creaminess of the avocado combined with the savory spiced chicken I devoured at lunch. Your turn! What or who do you feel a sense of appreciative joy for or around?
Authenticity Joy: When I was talking with a coaching client recently, we were discussing her relationship with her husband. I had asked her about all the ways in which she could be her authentic self with him. She shared that she loves that with him, she feels completely comfortable without make-up, she never doubts her body with him, she is free to explore new ideas and pursue her ambitions with him. I felt joyful just listening to her. She was beaming, and her face appeared so relaxed as she listed all the ways she could allow all the parts of her to show up in their relationship. I understand this feeling well. Until I met my husband, I didn't know what this was like. As I acknowledge this, and it's not even a new thought, my eyes have filled with tears. With him I can cry, I can laugh, I can make mistakes, I can be silly, I can be wrapped up in the different parts of myself that often overthink, overanalyze, get super clinical, or show up rigid and perfectionistic, and there is no judgment. And because he is a steady presence for all of me, I can show up in my wholeness. I experience authenticity joy also when I'm in nature and usually when I'm working out these days. What's most striking for me is how much more often I experience Authenticity Joy at this point in my life. I don't believe this is an accident or coincidence. 💗 Where do you experience Authenticity Joy? Where or with whom are you fully expressed?
Acceptance Joy: I had dinner with my mom last night, and she sent me home with a bag full of jeans that a friend had given her to try on. She found a pair that she liked and gave me the rest to see if I liked them. I asked her why her friend was getting rid of them. She said, "She has gained weight, and she knew she didn't want to try to lose it again. She is content." My eyes welled up with tears then, and they are now too, as I write this. What a beautiful gift for her to give herself, to not exact deprivation and restriction upon her body, and to fully embrace and accept it. When I tried on the pants, I found a pair that felt really good. I could relax in them. They didn't pinch or pull in certain places. They accepted my body, and my body accepted them. Where once the size would have mattered to me, all I experience was a sense of ease. Acceptance joy. I am healthy, strong, I love moving my body in different ways, I don't count calories or grams of anything anymore, I judge whether clothing is appropriate or not based on how comfortable it is first, and second, whether it will work for the activity I'm engaged in. Acceptance is not acquiescence; it's an active opening to what is, a welcoming, a homecoming. Where are you or could you, begin to notice or move into Acceptance Joy?
The more you consciously observe the joy you experience in your life, whether in big or small moments, the more you will live in joy. We can heal ourselves and the pain we feel by spending more time either noticing when joy happens or by resourcing ourselves with the felt sense of joy we've already experienced. We can recall it and hold onto it for just a little bit longer.
I would love to feel your joy with you. Please comment and share what you're experiencing! If you need help accessing more joy in your life, you know where to find me. Please reach out directly to me at email@example.com