The following is from Michele Rosenthal, author of Before the World Intruded: Conquering the Past and Creating the Future. Enjoy!
There was a time in my life I didn’t believe I’d ever feel joy again. A horrible illness had befallen me and while I survived it, the rosy glow of joy seemed to have been snuffed out. Perhaps you, too, have known a moment of despair that seemed so heavy even Hercules couldn’t lift it. Years went by while I felt like that. Then, I decided to do something about it; I decided to actively conquer the past and create the future. The first step: I needed to feel something really, really good! More than that, I decided I needed to feel joy.
Technically, we define ‘joy’ as a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. I think that’s an understatement. Joy, I believe, is a feeling so exquisite you can barely contain yourself, so deep within you it seems to have an unending source, and so connected to the present moment the rest of the world (and time) falls away.
My joy quest began with a furry quadruped and continues today with salsa dancing and Argentine Tango. Every day I schedule time to do some one thing (at least!) that taps me into a sense of joyfulness. The following tips are from my own joy journey; I wonder how they might fit into yours . . .
Let yourself dream ~ Bringing joy into your life begins with the hope that you will feel it. Spend some time imagining what joy would feel like, how you would experience it, and how it would rock your world. Your brain looks for proof of what you tell it. Begin telling it about joy and it will begin looking for it.
Give yourself permission ~ It’s very easy to put off the experience of joy. Your world is busy, your mind may be cluttered; there are a ton of things to do. That’s all true. It’s also true that the longer you deny yourself joy the longer it will be before you feel it. Practice giving yourself permission to have it now and see how much more effectively and efficiently you operate in all areas of your life.
Get a puppy ~ Sorry cat, fish and iguana lovers, puppies hold the title for most joyful pet! With their infinite energy, constant exploration and playful spirit puppies can tap into that part of you that just likes to have fun, which makes them the perfect conduit to joy.
Do something creative ~ Expressing your vision and who you are feels good. Whether you like to write, paint, sing, sculpt, crochet or any other activity that conjures something out of thin air, developing a skill that applies your imagination can access a well of pleasure in who you are and make you feel incredible delight.
Do something you used to love as a child ~ Your core personality develops by the time you’re seven. The things that brought you delight back then can still bring you pleasure today. As an adult you may have lost touch with them. Think back to what used to bring you happiness at the age of five, or eight or ten. Then, go experience that all over again.
Challenge yourself physically! ~ You feel pleasure keenly in your body. Moving it, caring for it, using it in strong and empowering ways forges a deep connection within your very soul. Find some physical activity that challenges you to use your full body for a sustained period of time. In addition to the endorphins that physical exercise releases the mind/body connection you build can kick your joy experience into overdrive.
Stimulate yourself mentally ~ It’s going to be hard to feel anything with your mind as a blank screen. Your mental participation is part of what creates your experience of joy. Read, talk, research, do puzzles — there are a slew of ways to wake up your mind. Engage in as many as possible so that your brain remains active and nimble enough to sense and enlarge joy when it appears.
Open yourself emotionally ~ Connecting with others can be the source of enormous pleasure. The trick is connecting with the right people, the kind who experience joy themselves. Surrounding yourself with other joy seekers vastly improves the nearness of joy in your own life, which makes it that much easier for you to access.
Do something incredibly helpful for someone else ~ One of the most joyful actions you can take is to make someone else feel joy. Bringing pleasure to another and witnessing their joy can have a wonderful boomerang effect on you.
Free yourself from negative beliefs ~ If you’re the kind of person who sees every glass as half empty and the world as a dark, disastrous place, here’s a heads up for you: Your beliefs create your world. It’s time to identify your negative beliefs, exchange them for more positive beliefs, and start creating the world in which you wish to live. At the end of the day, you and you alone are responsible for bringing joy into your life. It begins with your attitude and perspective.
Since I allowed joy into my life my world has changed. I live connected to the present moment, have developed more meaningful relationships, and find pleasure in every day in more ways than I could have ever imagined. All of this stems from one final, bonus tip: Build your joy belief. No matter how your life has been up until this very moment, despite any mistakes you may have made or actions you now regret, you deserve to feel joy. Understanding and believing this alters everything about who you are and how joyful you feel.
Look around your wondrous world. Notice the colors of the flowers, the sky and the trees. Listen to the sounds of traffic, crickets, and people laughing. Accessing joy is as easy as a simple meditation on the things you love. Choose one thing, focus on it, allow it to become the only thing that exists in this moment. Notice how that feeling of joy creeps up on and then envelops you.
Used by permission
Michele Rosenthal is a trauma survivor who struggled with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for over 25 years. Today, Michele joyfully lives 100% free of PTSD symptoms. The host of Your Life After Trauma on Seaview Radio, Michele is a mental health advocate, public speaker, award-winning blogger, writer, workshop/seminar leader and Post-Trauma Identity Coach. For more information please visit www.yourlifeaftertrauma.com, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.