Let’s face it – the last few months have been unprecedented. I don’t know about you, but I have experienced every emotion that exists. Usually on a daily basis. Last year I wrote an article titled “Need a Boost? Join the Joy Revolution!” I was doing well with focusing on joy and then 2020 happened and I let it derail me.
One day I decided to get out of the house and take a walk. That is when the plan to reclaim my joy started. I could not believe how beautiful my neighborhood was – from the blooming trees to the flowers that seemed to be showing off their most vibrant colors to the birds singing a chorus to the bunnies that were entertaining me as they chased each other around the park. I felt an overwhelming feeling of joy just being in that moment. Then it was quickly replaced with guilt. How could I be joyful with everything that is going on? How could I be so selfish?
Reclaim your joy: it’s not selfish, it is crucial to progress.
Let’s back up for a minute and talk about what sets joy apart. Joy can coexist with other emotions. On the same day, you can feel grief, sadness, despair, and……joy. How many times have you been upset, maybe even crying, only to start to smile when your dog does something cute? How many of us have that person in our life who can make us laugh no matter what unhappy situation we are experiencing? It is possible to have moments of joy with other negative emotions. And guess what, it’s completely okay!
Actually, what I have learned is that to reclaim our joy is necessary. It is not selfish. We are bombarded daily with images of despair and suffering. There are days when life feels so heavy you may wonder if you will get through the day. That is why reclaiming joy is crucial. In the blog Life in Full Bloom by Heidi Hill, she shares:
If we don’t consciously cultivate joy, we risk living a life dominated by the other, less enlivening foundation emotions. (fear, anger, sadness) It also means we risk missing out on a huge part of what it means to be human. When we are caught up in our stress, speed and to-do lists, we easily miss the beauty, awe and mystery that fills our world. Yet it is in these moments that experiencing joy matters more than ever.
Heck yeah! This is why I knew I must reclaim my joy.
Joy helps us to bounce back.
Joy benefits us mentally and physically. It helps to reduce stress. It increases our resilience. Moments of joy instill hope and build our strength.
I recently read the Harvard Business Review article, Resilience is How You Recharge, Not How You Endure by Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan. Now, I must admit that the article stuck with me for a long time. I realized that I was connected to my electronic devices, that I was constantly thinking about work or problems even when I was doing things that were supposed to be allowing me to get a break. To become more resilient, we need times of recovery, not just rest. We need to disengage, quiet our minds, and revitalize. I have been on the search for what allows me to really do that. What I have discovered is, for me, those things are connected to people and things that bring me joy.
On my morning walk, I alternate between listening to music that I sing along with to give my brain something to do (sorry neighbors!) and not run rampant with everything that is weighing me down or I give myself an assignment to make note of three things that made me smile on the walk. It could be an exchange with another walker, a squirrel that was enjoying its breakfast near the sidewalk or noticing a stuffed bear in a window.
I have started reading for fun again. Before, I had fallen into the trap of only reading books that were for work or for self-improvement. I missed enjoying fun, interesting characters in a captivating story. They give me an escape for a little while and I forgot how much I loved that.
This article is sponsored by Neely Coaching & Training
To reclaim joy is a choice you can make in any given moment.
Martin Seligman, the leading scholar of positive psychology, states that 60 percent of happiness is determined by our genetics and environment, but the remaining 40 percent is up to us. It’s our choice!
How often do we overlook joy? Take a day and intentionally and deliberately pay attention to what brings you joy. For me, it was a cup of tea in the morning on the patio watching the bees getting to work before the neighborhood gets too noisy. It was a text from a friend just checking in. Or, it was an Amazon package on my porch. It was a tv show that made me laugh so hard I cried.
Take the 1-Day challenge to notice what brings you joy and then do it again and again. That is the ongoing process to reclaim it for yourself.
The joy of sharing joy
You will discover who you really want to be by following what brings you joy. For example, I found that I could never be a spy. I would be horrible at it. How do I know this? I decided that I wanted to do something that might bring joy to others and I wanted it to be anonymous.
My first attempt was to go out early and leave a small surprise on my neighbors’ porches. I didn’t want to get caught and the anxiety of having to walk so closely to their front doors just about took the joy out of the experience. I’m not very good at being secretive and undercover. I have no idea if they experienced joy when they found their surprise, but I do know that the possibility that someone did gave me a lift all day.
For my second attempt, I enlisted a friend. We identified three people who we believed needed a little acknowledgment. We created goody bags and handwritten notes pointing out the great things we had observed them doing or describing their good traits. Then we drove to their homes and left the bags outside near their doors. Hiding our car, sneaking up to the house, leaving the bag where they could find it, running away before we were spotted was very exciting. But no more exciting than imagining the look on their faces when they found the bags and read the cards.
Call To Action
Who do you know that could use an acknowledgment? What can you do to spread some joy? Be creative. It doesn’t need to be extravagant or grand. Keep it simple and from the heart.
Leaders have a responsibility to take care of themselves and others. Are you modeling recovery for your team or are you sending emails at all hours of the night? How are you building resilience in those around you? What are your opportunities to acknowledge others or create some moments of joy? It only takes a little thought and effort to make a difference.
Reclaim your joy. This is how you take back your power from this crazy year. You decide what it means and how it looks for you. I’m upping my game to do things that will bring fierce, rebellious, abundant joy. You’ve got nothing to lose. Joy awaits you!
Debby Neely is a Professional Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation who specializes in leadership coaching and facilitation. Her business, Neely Coaching & Training, supports both formal and informal leaders in realizing their potential and in getting results. Their mission is to help you be the best you can be.