So, as we leave #JulyfulJuly …a month of exploring JOY… and move into August where our theme of the month is CURIOUS, I thought I’d get curious about joy!

During July, I loved the synchronicities with joy, like on the morning of the Brave Souls Mini Retreat when I asked ‘What energy do I need to bring into the day?’ and pulled a ‘Power of Joy’ card!

So, where has joy taken me in July? What is joy? What brings me joy? What gets in the way of my joy? What have I learnt about joy? Where am I taking joy next?

What is JOY?

Synonyms for joy are words like pleasure and delight… to become joyful is to gladden.

Ingrid Fetell Lee in her TED Talk Where joy hides and how to find it differentiates joy from happiness… ‘Joy is an intense momentary experience of positive emotion, one that makes us smile and laugh and feel like we want to jump up and down… it’s about feeling good in the moment, right now.’ whereas happiness is something which measures how good we feel over time.

In David Whyte’s book Consolations he writes of JOY, (note the post date… in July… more synchronicity!) saying joy is a  ‘deep form of love’ and ‘the raw engagement with the passing seasonality of existence’

He also says joy is ‘the claiming of our place in the living conversation, the sheer privilege of being in the presence of a mountain, a sky or a well loved familiar face – I was here and you were here and together we made a world.’ Beautiful!

In the animation Alike… the child is full of colour… each day her father goes to work and the colour drains from him… until he picks her up and she hugs him bringing back his colour. Over time as she is forced to follow the rules of society, do what is expected of her, let go of her creativity; shamed into conforming the colour drains out of her too until there isn’t enough left… to share with her father or even for herself.  I won’t ruin the ending for you if you’ve not seen it yet!

So it feels to me like joy is a feeling of pleasure or delight which I experience through my senses when I truly show up in life. It feels like joy is linked to awe and wonder and the natural world… maybe even my natural way of being.  Joy is my colour that I bring to the world, closely linked with my authenticity, speaking and living my truth, being brave, daring to be different… joy is the things that light me up and bring me to life.  And that joy can be lost if I let it.

What brings me JOY?

Some of the things that bring me joy, through my senses, are…

  • Sight… beautiful views: sunsets, moonrises, rainbows, clouds, beaches, wild flowers… wildlife (this month brought butterflies… dragonflies…otters, seal and minke whales!)… seeing my kids being wild and free
  • Sound… birdsong… laughter… music
  • Smell… the sea… lemongrass… cut grass
  • Feel… warm sunshine on my skin… swimming in cold freshwater pools… stretching my body with yoga… a ‘melty’ hug (one that lasts long enough to not notice where you end and the other person begins!)… the wind on my face… walking barefoot on the earth
  • Taste… water… the first sip of wine… wild raspberries… chocolate…

I also think connection brings me joy. So connection might be feeling part of nature or having a hug; it might also be singing, meditating, playing games or meaningful conversations.

They’re the simple everyday things that can often be overlooked in the busyness of life!

In her blog When Joy Becomes Grief Jen’s list of what brings her joy… a comforting brew, a plant that finally flowers, a shady spot on a walk with my dog, the most delicious glass of sauvignon that’s ever touched your lips, a random night with friends where your sharpness of wit was exceptional, the comfort of my favourite clothes, a cool nights sleep …is also full of simple everyday things.

When Ingrid Fetell Lee researched what brings us joy, she found things like cherry blossoms, bubbles, swimming pools, treehouses, hot air balloons, ice cream cones, rainbows and fireworks to be universal in bringing joy …simple everyday things.  She then went on to identify patterns and common threads linking the objects she found that bring us joy and found: round shapes; pops of bright colour; symmetry; a sense of abundance & multiplicity; and a feeling of lightness or elevation.

What gets in the way of my JOY?

When I consider what gets in the way of joy for me… it feels like there is a LOT… fear, shame, needing to be productive, duty, meeting expectations, guilt, not wanting to feel ALL my emotions, not allowing myself to be IN joy.

On this David Whyte writes ‘to allow ourselves to be joyful is to have walked through the doorway of fear’.

Rumi, in The Guest House, talks of inviting in ALL emotions ‘even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture’. I know that since I learnt to feel my emotions more, being more aware not to numb what I would previously have considered the ‘negative’ emotions, I’ve definitely experienced more joy… I know if I suppress and numb sorrow, grief and shame I also suppress joy.

I love Pixar’s film Inside Out for the message it delivers around joy. You’ll have to watch it to know more…

Ingrid Fetell Lee talks of how habituation gets in the way of joy and that over time as the things that brought us joy become habitual they no longer do. She also says we have a negativity bias meaning we don’t focus on the good stuff that happens, thus limiting our potential for joy.

I loved Jen’s realisation that joy isn’t always doing something to bring ourselves joy… sometimes it can be choosing not to do… as was her experience with rest this month.

So what do I now know about JOY?

I know that…

  • It’s most often the small, everyday things that bring joy
  • I often don’t do something to create moments of joy they just present themselves
  • A lot of my joy is found in nature
  • Joy is always there if I can get out of my own way (ditch the subconscious conditioning which drives the shame, guilt, fear, negativity, judgement, perfection, stress, etc.)
  • Even when joy presents itself I can still stop myself ‘en-joying’ it by not pausing to be in the joy
  • Cultivating gratitude and acceptance brings me more joy
  • Fully feeling all my emotions (including the ones I’ve deemed ‘negative’) instead of numbing, means I can more fully feel joy
  • My kids live in joy more naturally & I need to stop squashing it out of them and instead look to them to teach me
  • My meditation helps me to connect with joy more fully… reducing the conditioning (i.e. a lot of the stuff that gets in the way)… bringing mindfulness to truly experience joy when it shows up… cultivating gratitude and acceptance

So… What next with JOY?

So, the onward journey with joy for me…

I will continue: spending time in nature, meditating, feeling ALL the emotions as they arise (or trying to… I feel this is a life’s work!)

I will start: pausing more in those joyful moments to allow more joy in, i.e. to enjoy; having a regular gratitude practice

I will stop: squashing in my kids joy 

I’m intrigued to explore more from Ingrid Fetell Lee’s TED Talk too…  How is my joy impacted by habituation?  How do I incorporate more bright colours, round shapes and symmetry in my life to bring more joy?  What will allow me to feel a sense of abundance & multiplicity?  What will bring a feeling of lightness or elevation to my life?  I’ll let you know how I go…

So… how about you?  We’d love to know…

  • What are you noticing about joy?
  • What will allow joy to be more present in your life?
  • Where next with joy for you?

Would be great to hear from you on the comments here or on the Facebook page…

Jo & Jen x