Each January, I choose a word for myself to set an intention and a tone for my year ahead. Over the past year, my word has been “joy.” I’ll be the first to admit I don’t feel joyful every minute of every day. It can be easy to get distracted by dirty dishes, vague fears, or even a rainy day. I can momentarily lose my focus.
But more and more often, I find that the negative stuff that stands in the way of living more joyfully–boredom, fear–is just that, momentary. And they can be great teachers. If I feel anxious about the future, I can use my senses to bring me back to the present. If I’m lonely, I know how to pick up the phone and call someone I care about. Rather than stuff the initial feeling, I’m learning to get really curious and invite in what it can teach me.
I’m more comfortable than I’ve ever been acknowledging I don’t know what the future will bring. I no longer even want this superhuman ability. I want to be fully present in this day. I want to receive the gift of moving through an uncomfortable feeling, not judging but befriending it, and taking baby steps to move into a better place.
I have heard this process described as telling the feeling “thank you for sharing,” then going ahead and acting as if. Moving through it, not being blocked by it. When I choose to take the next right action, and the one after that, and the one after that, I’m affirming that feelings aren’t facts, and life just keeps getting bigger.
For me, that can mean bundling up and heading out on a cold night to practice the organ, even if I feel like sitting at home eating brownies, because I know once I get there, I will feel alive and will be moving toward my goals. I will be living joyfully and in connection to my core self.
It can also mean doing most of the dishes (who needs perfectionism!), taking a hot shower, and crawling in bed with the cat for 8 hours of sleep. Self-care can take different shapes from one day to the next. As long as I’m moving toward my goals in the most important areas of my life over the course of a week, then I know I’m on track. If I tell myself it’s too hard, or focus on the negative, I lose sight of the positive baby steps I’ve taken that add up over time to a fuller, more authentic life.
I’d love to hear from you! What’s blocking you from experiencing a more joyful life? When do you feel most joyful?