Joy blooms where minds and hearts are open. – Jonathan Lockwood Huie
We feel and experience joy in many ways – viewing the sunset, watching a child at play, receiving unconditional love from a pet, or achieving a goal. However, another type of joy is the deep heartfelt joy of “I am so grateful for this life of mine.” This kind of joy emanates from the inside out and is present regardless of what is happening around us.
I believe our conditioning tells us a limiting story that says joy only “happens when” something else is linking to it. Experiencing joy in life does not need to be left to chance. Instead, it is something we can curate intentionally in our life. To indeed have JOY in the JOURNEY, we must take an active role in the creation of JOY.
In my journey of self-denial, awakening to JOY, and eventually my commitment to experiencing JOY every day, I discovered the simplicity and beauty of cultivating joy. Below you will find five ways that I have used and guide my clients to create deep joy in the journey.
Set an intention for JOY
Unless you consciously intend to live in JOY, you may be sabotaging yourself and not even realizing it. Have you ever heard the Native American parable “A Tale of Two Wolves?” It goes like this:
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Unless you consciously set an intention to experience and have JOY in your life, you very well may be feeding the wolf that is filled with anger, resentment, and sorrow.
Consciously set an intention for JOY – to see it daily in your life, to feel it, to give joy, and to be joy. Then, notice what shifts for you when you voice this intention regularly.
Tune your habits and beliefs for JOY
When you set an intention for joy, something interesting happens. You become hyper-aware when you are not feeling joy. This sensitivity might pop up in situations or your thoughts. You may feel physically uncomfortable. These feelings tell you that the problem, habit, or belief is out of alignment with your intention.
When this occurs, you have the opportunity to let go of the old conditioning and tune in to a new habit or belief that IS in alignment with joy. It all begins with the awareness that what you are experiencing is not feeling joyful. It’s important to fully feel the uncomfortableness and face the feeling vs. brush it off or ignore it. When you dismiss an uncomfortable feeling, you are reinforcing the old habit or belief.
Transformational teachers share many different practices to help you clear the old and rewire to the new. In the Mindset chapter in Radiant Achievement, I share an exercise about Changing Your Story. Every habit or belief links to some story about ourselves, others, or the world. I go on to share how to connect with your earliest recollection of the story and how, now that you are an adult, you can see the story from a whole new perspective, one that is conscious and empowered. When you connect that people were showing up the best they could with their conditioning in the old situation, it frees you up to release the limiting belief and then reframe into the new thought.
If there are significant issues, I always recommend getting support from a licensed or professional practitioner. I used both a therapist and biofeedback expert during my healing journey. There is a list of resources in the back of my book, and I encourage you to check them out if you need more support.
Once you are aware of the new belief you desire to adopt, set yourself up for success by creating a daily practice to reinforce your intention. An approach I use is mindfulness. The more I live in the present moment, the easier it is to sense how I’m feeling and then consciously engage the new belief. Rewiring does take time. The key is patience and compassion.
Take time to FEEL joy
JOY can be felt at any moment, including this one right now.
Feelings and emotions aren’t limited to being experienced as reactions to something that happens. We can proactively cultivate them, too, by pausing at any moment to feel whatever way we desire.
I invite you to pause now. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. With each in-breath, open your heart to JOY. It may take a moment or two, but when you think JOY, how does that feel? How does it feel in your heart? When you feel joy, do you automatically smile? If you need some prompting, think about something joyful – maybe one of the examples from above. Stick with it.
There is no right or wrong way to summon up the feeling of JOY. Breathe it in. Feel your heart overflow with happiness. Feel this joy slowly expand through every cell in your body. Sit with the feeling of joy in your entire body. Feel it. Then take one more step and let the joy travel past your body until it envelops the whole earth. Sit in this positive ripple you are creating. Soak in the moment. Soak in the immense joy you feel and remind yourself that YOU curated this feeling without anything happening outside you.
Make this feeling exercise a daily practice first thing in the day. You will be amazed how it sets you up for joy the entire day!
Do things you enJOY
Doing things you enjoy may seem so obvious, but the reality is that we often deny doing the things that truly bring us joy. Saying yes to a project, dream, activity, relationship, or conversation sets us up for joy in the journey. The word enJOY has JOY built-in!
Doing things you enjoy isn’t just about the fun recreational side of life. It relates to every aspect: personal, professional, health & wellness, spirituality, relationships, home, community, and even your finances. It doesn’t mean there aren’t aspects we prefer over others (parts we enjoy more), but what it does mean is that we are aware of what more naturally brings us joy, and we do those things.
Let me give you a couple of examples from my life. Regarding my health, I enjoy eating nutritious food, but I don’t enjoy cooking every day. So, to up my joy in this area, I have subscribed to one of the food delivery services. Now I get healthy meals delivered three days a week. Another example relates to my relationships. I enjoy having deep conversations about different topics related to living a radiant and fulfilling life. I make sure I connect with friends and colleagues each week just for this purpose. It’s so much fun, and it fills my cup of JOY until it’s running over!
Two final examples of things I enjoy are dancing, and beach walks. When I think back to all the excuses I made that prevented me from doing these activities every week, I have compassion for that old version of me living in her old conditioning of not enough time for fun activities. Here is an important lesson I learned – we OWE it to ourselves to carve out time for things we enjoy. If you are squirming in your seat, saying, “I just don’t have time,” I am going to call you out on this lovingly. There is absolutely a way to find time for those things you genuinely enjoy, even if in the smallest block of time right now.
Don’t let your calling, passion project, or hobby sit on the shelf, collecting dust. These things are an innate part of you and are an expression of your radiance. Get curious. Ask, “I wonder what I can stop doing to make room for 30 minutes a week on my project?”
Acknowledge your JOY
This list of ways to have JOY in the journey wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging the importance of owning your joy. There is a lesson I learned from a mentor “What we focus on expands.” What better way to end our day than to pause and focus on the moments of joy we experienced. Do your acknowledgment with a gratitude journal, in your prayers, meditation, or simply by mentally reviewing your day before you turn out the lights. I have found this to be a joyful process in and of itself!
In acknowledging your JOY, scan your day. Scan each part of your life that you engaged in at some point in your day. Give thanks for all the things that went well, which made you laugh, bringing a smile to your face. Acknowledge the synchronicities too. Then, after noticing the more obvious things, pause to go a level deeper. How did YOU show up today? Who were you that made you proud? In what ways did you experience JOY just being you? This joy is a dose of self-love that is a beautiful gift right before you drift off to sleep.
The best of this exercise is that whatever we acknowledge EXPANDS. So when you recognize the joy you had today in all these different ways, you are setting yourself up for more happiness tomorrow. Hence, joy in the journey is what you will continue to experience.
I’d love to hear about your experience of JOY in the journey – toward your goals, toward your life vision, toward who you desire to be. Please drop a comment below or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.