7 ways you are blocking joy in your life and how to invite it in!
Happiness! What we won’t do to feel it. It comes easily on days of celebration. A wedding, birthdays, graduations. What happens the rest of the year though? Where does happiness lie on a drearyTuesday afternoon on the ride home form work? We all want to feel happy and we prefer to feel that way all the time. There is nothing wrong with that at all. Happiness certainly feels much better than loneliness, boredom or disappointment for example. What often gets us in trouble is the wanting to sustain that euphoric feeling of happiness through means outside of ourselves. We want our partners and children to make us happy. Maybe a new haircut or new shoes will do the trick. If a small house makes us feel satisfied, a bigger house will bring us more happiness.
When we chase happiness through means outside of ourselves we inevitably set ourselves up for failure. New shiny things get old and worn. Even well meaning partners and children will at some point disappoint us. Putting our expectations of happiness on others is a difficult burden to carry and inevitably puts relationships at risk of breaking.
I prefer the steadiness of joy. Joy can be ever present, because joy stems from inside of us. Joy can show itself in moments of heartbreak, through illness and on that dreary ride home from work. Joy is internal. It comes from recognizing and making peace with who we are and how we are showing up in this world. It is a calm and steady feeling of bliss. Joy has a life sustaining quality. It is the quiet recognition of the inherent perfection of our life in this world. So what are seven things that many of us do to block the flow of joy into our life?
We make other people and things responsible for our happiness.
We abandon our own needs and desires in an effort to please others and then harbor resentment.
We subscribe to “Destination Happiness”. The sense of finding happiness at a new job, or new town or maybe the upcoming vacation.
We neglect to do the things that bring us joy, instead filling our day with the “shoulds”.
We over schedule ourselves and refuse to slow down and, at the end of the day, we wonder where the day has gone?
We overstimulate our brain with Technology. We try to escape by watching TV or checking our Facebook status. We connect with people on social media rather than the people presently with us.
We believe our self talk. We mistakenly think that the constant dialogue in our head is our truth. That the stories we tell ourselves about people and events are real and we judge ourselves and others based on those stories.
The beauty in joy is that it can be cultivated and anybody has the ability to do so. So what are some ways to bring joy into your life?
Start by accepting each moment as it is. What do I mean by that? Our suffering usually stems from wanting things to be different than they are and struggling against what is so. Having to do unpleasant things, might still be unpleasant. Getting a dental cleaning is not going to be more fun for example. Imagine sitting in that chair though and instead of wishing to be somewhere else, doing something else, open yourself to what is. Not wishing it to be any different. It just is. Try it the next time you sit in that chair.
Our self talk. Have you ever made yourself consciously aware of the stories you are telling yourself? Imagine standing in an express checkout line at the grocery store and the person in front of you has too many items. What is your internal dialogue? What if your self talk involved compassion for the person in front of you? What if that person was in a rush to get back home to a sick partner? Maybe they have an elderly person waiting for them in the car? Switch your self talk and watch your compassion expand and your body relax while standing in line.
Whatever you are doing in any given moment, do THAT whole hearted. If you are having lunch with a friend enjoy that moment without going over your to do list in your head. It makes this moment so much more meaningful to you and your friend.
Slow down! Always rushing to the next thing deprives you of the joy in this moment. Rushing through your children’s bedtime to have that quiet glass of wine at the end of the day for example, robs you of being truly present with your children. Slow down, there will always be the next thing. But the current moment is here only once. Now.
Find sometime each day to get quiet. Find a few moments without distractions, social media, TV or people. Sit and listen to your heart. What does it want to tell you? You heart carries tremendous wisdom inside. Learn to listen to it. It is a practice and does not immediately happen, but you can learn to silence your mind and connect with your heart. It will change your life!
Get clear for yourself on what you are willing to do for others and what you are not willing to do. Abandoning your own wishes or desires and neglecting yourself for others breeds resentment and expectations. If you truly want to fill a request from somebody else, do so with a full heart. If you don’t, honor that and lovingly decline. It is not easy in the beginning, but it will ultimately improve your self esteem and the relationships in your life.
Find some time in your day, every day, to do something that makes your spirit soar. It does not need to be big or elaborate. Do you enjoy singing? Sing your heart out for a few minutes! Not for anybody else to hear, but for the joy of it. Do you like to dance? Put some music on and dance while you are doing housework. It makes cleaning so much more fun! Read a few pages in a book. Go for a walk outside. Whatever feeds your soul, do some of that! Let your spirit soar!
I promise, if you commit time to practicing even just a few of these suggestions every day, your life will open in unexpected ways and joy will come rushing in. Then, one day you will find yourself smiling and singing on a dreary February Tuesday with a heart overflowing.