Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are. - Marianne Williamson
Joy. We wish our classrooms and homes were more joyous places. We wish our lives to be more joyous. We want to be more joyous. AND...how many opportunities have you given yourself lately to ALLOW yourself to be joyful-to stop and look around you and be filled with joy with what is working. When did you last notice you weren't joyful (probably when you were mad...sad, shamed, etc.) and did something right away to make you happy (listen to a song, play a game, think of a joke, do a handstand).
A lot of time we have so much to do (that to-do list again!) that WE (AGAIN! see a pattern in my posts: there is a pattern in OUR COLLECTIVE behavior as people and especially educators) get in a zone that is not joyous and about completing and accomplishing a task and at the END you'll be happy (it's over). This could be the end of the task, the end of a to-do list, or more often than not the end of something "we like."
Stop now and think of something you like to do. Think of a hobby. Many of you can't... you don't have hobbies. If you did list some hobbies, those of us who are single need to have them on the ready (I like to workout, cook, read and I love coffee!), stop and ask yourself-which of your hobbies is actually a chore? A CHORE: Something you do because you have to or "should" ...and because that takes up your time outside of work, that you catagorize as your free time, you have labeled it a hobby. OK. Now there were a few of you that said rock climbing and pottery, stuff like that; I'm proud of you, the rest of us are going to join you soon (maybe on horseback-I've been interested in making that a new hobby since moving to LA-I feel like everyone rides).
OK. I get it, you're kinda mad because some of your chores help clear your head and you want to believe they are hobbies- and you know what :YOU ARE RIGHT! Some people's chore is some people's pleasure. Take cooking for instance-I love to cook, especially when I have time to really make something and get into it: buying special and extra-healthy ingredients...AND sometimes I'm struggling to get a pan of pasta boiled. It's a balance and it's knowing what something is in the moment. If you sign up for a pottery class and end up hating it-but keep going because...... (fill in the blank) it may have become a chore.
Whenever we're bogged down in the to-do's and the chores we aren't in a state of joy. And we can be! We need to stop ourselves from entering the bogged down place (we can't use "sunken place" anymore-that movie was AMAZING though!-you get my drift) by making joy a constant and IN all things we do. We need to be honest about the things that bring and don't bring us joy. Joy, like happiness, is not a destination. It is not something we'll get from ending something-AND it's the way that we can feel when we're living out all things in our life. We can even have joy during our chores. Then our workplaces, homes and lives will be joyful.
How do we do this?
We need to add more joyfulfilling things in our lives so we can connect with what joy feels like and evoke it on the regular.
1. Do something joyful
That's why I made the distinction between chores and hobbies- true hobbies. A lot of times when we get upset or have a bad day we try to accomplish something. This is because we feel like a failure. I see this a lot in women! They have a terrible day AND take care of their family (who are sometimes ungrateful) and to "get away" and "clear my head" they fold laundry or finish dishes. TRUE! You're probably going to have to do that anyway and it's a relief it's no longer hanging over your head- but ...BUT...you spent the whole day without joy. What if you went and jumped on that trampoline you bought for your kids? Or you danced to your favorite song from high school or college? Or you even just set a timer for 10 minutes, because that's probably 5 minutes more than you actually have...let's get real...and look at pictures from when you were single, or in college, or ....
I bet if you choose from the second list I made, you'll probably feel a lot better when you get around to folding other people's clothes.
Take it a step further than you naturally will: What is something you enjoyed doing as a child?
Watch your children or your students for ideas because your memory is going to say something like "swimming" and I want you think like "talking to my friend underwater and guessing what each other is saying." I love to swim underwater and whenever I'm in a pool I try to swim all the way across on the longest edge underwater. This type of activitiy connects one with true joy, something within you that is just your "natural happy." We were much closer to it as children-we see it in them, they just wanna have fun. By connecting with your inner child you'll feel joy in an almost over-whelming way. When it's that intense, it's easier to keep it with you longer!
2. Connect with joy on the regular
Now that you've floated on your back for 30 minutes looking at cloud animals in the sky, it's time to bring that feeling into your every moment. Every-moment is a lot of moments, so let's just work up to that and start with stuff that really isn't joyful right now. Then we'll add it in slowly. The trick to finding joy when you used to find misery is to be a little proactive. Marianne Williamson says,
Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.
So, when you're sitting in traffic, for example, recognize how you have access to your favorite music, or your A/C is working, or your car is clean- or your car isn't clean so now you have all this stuff to occupy your time while you wait in LA traffic because today the 110 is like a parking lot.... I use traffic as my example because I USED TO HATE TRAFFIC. It could really turn my day. When living in Houston, that is no way to live-it's a regular thing-so I made the choice to have podcasts, music, crystals and smells in my car. I made it a point to clean my car once a week (I just go to a gas station with a car wash and get a deal on gas when I buy a carwash!-now I meditate in the car wash but be careful bc your car is in neutral and the attendent will have to tap on your window if you just go rolling) because I recognized I was more frustrated when my car was dirty. I actually began to really enjoy sitting in traffic because I had the perfect excuse to do nothing but listen to stuff I like and clear my energy. I now can live in LA, which I believe started as a traffic jam and just turned into a city. What's your traffic?...find it and start there!
Once you turn the worst parts of your day into joyful events, it's so much easier to find joy in everything else, or make joy where none exists. When you're doing your chores you can easily see what's working-responsibility can feel like a burden but LOOK at all you've accomplished! Responsibility is accomplishment. Responsibility is energy and momentum. LOOK- You're doing dishes in your own place! That you decorated and are able to pay the bills for! or maybe not... maybe you just ate a meal and you're full, and everyone is content around you; if that, or less, is all that's working-then that IS working, too! Something is working in every situation-find that and build on that joy.
When you combine consistantly doing things that bring you joy, feeling that joy, and then bring that joy into other parts of your day, the momentum will get rolling and you'll find your life more and more filled with joy. That joy is magnetic. We have felt others who are joyful and wanted to be in their presence. Now, you'll be that person. More joyful people will want to be around you, bringing you joy. You will attrack better work, better opportunities, and more opportunities will present themselves in parts of your life that weren't active before. People will respond to your joy!
I have a friend, who I now live with, whom I used to marvel at. Her life was full of risks I would've never took, and everything just seemed to work out. I couldn't figure it out, I was working so hard, not happy and wasn't having close to any of the cool experiences she was having. After being in her joy and watching how she found that joy whenever and wherever - I also began to see how she manifested more joy. She talks to everyone the same-in a joyful, loving way. So people talk to her and want to listen to what she has to say. Then she gets offered opportunities or finds out about opportunities through these connections. People think she's a great fit for everything because she's a great fit for THEM (she makes everyone feel good because she feels good.). She wasn't just feeling joy, she was exuding it.
Last week I was in Marfa, TX. Such a cool place. I wanted to lounge by this famous pool in Marfa and take it easy -I'd planned it for a few weeks. I was so happy that day, I went to have breakfast at the hotel AND THE POOL WAS CLOSED for a private event! Heath-a-year-ago would have been devestated-but I honestly laughed. I was like-I'm on a vacation it was meant to be and I'll do other stuff. I went to breakfast close to the pool, shopped around, went to some galleries. I was open and friendly and enjoying every minute-I even found a coffee shop that I didn't know existed. I did however, laugh about it being so hot and coming to Marfa on the only day that the pool was closed-which led me to ACTUALLY be invited to the pool by the guy who was throwing the SPECIAL EVENT. Would he have invited the past-version of myself that would have been harboring so much anger at who-ever had a special event the one day I was in Marfa-probably not. But he invited me! I went and had the best time. I was traveling by myself and I got invited to dinner and cocktail hours too! Finding the joy in all situations by finding what's working (in my case it was also having an ironic story). It's magnetic.
So that's the trick- and so much fun! Do the joyful things and then be joyful in all things because of it.
Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy!