Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Is Joy a Daily Priority? 6 Tips for Cultivating Joy Today

It's easy to get caught up in the seriousness of life, with our ever-growing to-do lists, rooms to clean, dishes to wash, clothes to fold, meals to make, blog posts to write - on top of the work that we do, keeping up with our social calendars, being present in our relationships, and trying to maintain our sanity. Squeeze in your workouts, meditations, self-care practices, and 5236238693 other tasks and well, life's lookin' pretty f-u-l-l. 

Phew. I'm already out of the breath.

Tell me, do you make joy a daily priority?

Just how happy do you want to be? How much joy do you want to feel?

Often, it's in those moments where we're experiencing sheer joy and happiness when doubt and worry sneak their way into our thoughts. Everything is clicking, we're in the flow, and we think, "This is too good to be true," and out of nowhere, "What if this were taken away from me?"

Visions of worst case scenarios dance in our heads, and we play them out, over and over again, as if to say, "Life, you are not going to pull a fast one on me. I'm going to be prepared for whatever comes my way."

In reality, we've reached the edge of what we've (subconsciously) decided as the limit of how much joy we're willing to experience and we've set up roadblocks on just how good we will feel. As Gay Hendricks says, you've hit your upper limit. So what are you going to do to push through and get to the other side?

This next step really works:

Without a doubt, gratitude is the most transformational tool you can use, if practised intentionally. Whip out a gratitude journal, set an alarm on your phone reminding you to say 5 things you're grateful for, grab the pen and paper and write thank you notes.

In those moments where you've hit your resistance and start sabotaging your joy? Take it as a sign to turn back to gratitude, and repeat: thank you, thank you, thank you.

How many times have you criticized yourself for making a mistake? Blamed yourself for something that was actually out of your control? Given yourself an internal smack-down? Decided you'll be happy when X happens, but only then? What about the moments when you've secretly judged someone else? Said something out loud that you wished you could take back?

What's the story you've been playing out in your mind? Comparison is a big one that comes up often. It's easy to look at somebody else and think, "That kind of success only happens to other people." or, "Sure, if I looked like that/ worked from home/ had that job/ didn't have kids/ had a bigger bank account/ were married, I could do that too. But I can't."

Maybe you've been putting conditions on your happiness. Once you achieve the goal, then you'll be free to chase your dreams. Once you take the course/ buy the program/ lose the weight/ get the guy/ quit the job, then you'll finally be happy.

Happiness is an inside job, it doesn't come from chasing anything in the external world.

Be brave enough to challenge your current belief systems. (Click to tweet!)

Adopt a curious mind. Ask questions: am I run by love or fear?

This Don Miguel Ruiz quote from The Four Agreements is the perfect guidepost:

“Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.”

Free your inner child.

Quick story, picture this: I was sitting in my favourite spot, typing away on my laptop, listening to the laughter of kids playing outside. As I glanced out the window, I saw kids running around, swinging on swings, climbing on the jungle gym. They were so full of joy it made my heart leap. I smiled to myself, admiring their sense of play and adventure.

In the next moment, I picked up my phone and clicked 'compose new tweet', attempting to formulate 140 characters about how joyful it felt to be there, writing in my favourite spot, sun shining, listening to kids laughing, and seeing them play.

I'm not quite sure what did it, but just typing that out seemed absurd. I deleted my words and typed this instead: "Writing + looking out the window to see kids swinging on swings, laughing up a storm... think I'll go join 'em for a bit."

I shut my laptop closed, went downstairs, turned to my husband and said, "Hey, wanna go play on the swing-set?" 

And my heart was full.

Often we ignore our inner child in the name of 'responsibility' and 'acting like an adult', but when we listen to our desire for playfulness, joy, and adventure, we connect more deeply to our own truth.

There is no such thing as a creative and a non-creative person - we are all creative beings. Every single one of us. (Click to tweet!)

Yet - there are so many things (or, ahem, excuses) that stop us from being creative (myself included!). If you're a blogger, you certainly flex your creative muscle, creating content, styling photos, expressing yourself through the written word. The problem there is that sometimes that type of creation turns into another item on our to-do lists, and for some, another source of income.

When's the last time you wrote simply to scribble the words down on the page? The last time you prepared a gourmet meal for the sole purpose of savouring every bite? Grabbed a paint brush, canvas, and channelled your inner Picasso? Built something with your own hands? Knit a sweater? Got busy with your scrapbookin' self?

The point is, it doesn't have to be perfect and you certainly don't have to be good at it. Low vibe thoughts like, "Being creative just isn't my thing.", "I'll leave that up to the pros", and "I'm no good at that." don't fly around here.

The intention is to play, to get creative for the sake of being creative, and most of all, to have fun with it.

Walk to the edges of your comfort zone, and go for it - take a few steps further. Then another couple of steps, and just keep going. Push through resistance just to see what's on the other side. Regardless of whether or not you have all the answers or the possibility of failure.

Decide who you want to be. Do you want to be the person who wondered what was possible? Or do you want to be the person who tested the limits of possibility? Who - step by step, little by little - chased an extraordinary dream? The dream of living life to the absolute fullest?

Trust that you'll be supported along the way. (You will.)

And do it with joy in your heart.

Over to you, creative one! Head on over to the comments and share three things that your inner child is longing for - and what action steps you're going to take to answer the call. 

P.S. If you haven't already, read this: Three Things You Need to Let Go Of, Right Now.

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