Does joy seem elusive to you sometimes? I know it has for me.
I remember 4 years ago when I realized that I had been pushing my way through life, checking off the boxes, moving from one achievement to the next hoping that all I wanted to feel, including joy, would show up with the next “success”. If only I could cross that elusive finish line…
Ya, there is no finish line to cross. It was definitely “I’ll be happy when…” syndrome.
What I realize now is that joy was always available to me but because I was living up in my head, trying to figure everything out and get it right, I was disconnected from my body and my emotions.
And when someone is in their head a lot, they are typically trying to avoid hurts from the past or worrying about the future.
Joy does not live in your head. It lives in your body.
So how the heck do we access that joy?
One way is presence, being in the present moment. You can use your 5 senses to help you be aware of where you are at right now.
What are you hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling and feeling? Becoming aware of these senses helps you be in your body, in a feeling state vs thinking and it brings you to this moment now.
When I was in my hyper-doing state, I was oblivious to how my body was feeling because I was so up in my head.
To be clear, I am not advocating that we don’t do anything. What I am supporting is taking some time to check in with yourself throughout the day. Where are you at? How are you feeling? Are you running on autopilot or are you present? How are you being as you are doing?
When I began disentangling myself from my proactive pattern of serial achieving and doing doing doing, I was advised to do what I love, do what makes me feel good.
I didn’t have a flipping clue!!!! What do you mean what feels good, what brings me joy? What do I love other than people and helping them????? Seriously. It was a tough question for me to answer. I had spent so much time working at being “better” that I had lost touch with what brought me joy.
And I know I’m not alone as a lot of my clients also struggle with this.
Joy does not exist in our protective patterns. It is experienced through being the truth of who we are instead of who we believe we need to be in order to stay safe, accepted, wanted and loved.
Our brains are also wired to take in the negative more than the positive as a form of safety. Dr. Rick Hanson, a psychologist, says in his book, Hardwiring Happiness, that the brain is like velcro to negative thoughts and is like teflon to positive ones, slips right off.
And we’ve all experienced when we can be given 9 positive accolades but it’s the one negative criticism that we hold onto.
Well shit! Are we doomed then?
Nope. There’s this thing called neuroplasticity where we can change our brains, rewire them.
One of the ways he suggested is that when a positive experience is occurring, take at least 20 seconds to really take it in, to really feel it. The more often we do this, the more the brain will rewire and our focus will be more on looking for the positive.
This relates to being in the present moment. When you are taking a shower, are you rushing through it or are you present to the water falling on your skin, the feel of your fingers massaging your scalp, the scent of the soap and shampoo?
When you are eating a meal, are you present to the taste and texture of the food or are you wolfing down on the run trying to get to the next activity?
When you are having a conversation with a loved one, are your present with them, wanting to receive and understand what they are saying or are you up in your head trying to figure out what to make for dinner?
When you are walking in the woods, are you allowing yourself to be activated by the trees, feeling the peace and the aliveness in your cells and taking that into the rest of your day or are you focused on getting your walk in quickly and then going right back to the chaos that you were trying to take a break from?
The joy resides in these little moments of presence, of being in our bodies and feeling the gifts that our senses give to us.
It is such a great place to start. And then from there, we can go beyond our human senses and connect with the divine energy of GUS (God/Universe/Source) that is in us, all around us, that is us. That bring me so much joy and is part of my daily practice. But that is for another day…
On a walk with my hubby, Tom, this past weekend, I was sharing with him a question that I was curious about because I wanted to hear his opinion.
The question was “how do I stop the pattern of trying to control and push and try to get somewhere and what do I do instead?”
In all his wisdom (Yes my hubby is a very wise man!), he said “Enjoy the moment and if you aren’t enjoying it, find a way to”.
And to take it a step further for me, it is to stop being in my head trying to figure shit out, drop down into my body, be in my heart, be in the present moment and allow myself to be given to.
It is there that I find my friend Joy.