Typically, and not surprisingly, people come to therapy not because they’re feeling lit up with joy, but because they’ve lost it in one or more areas of their lives or hope to discover it for the first time. In either case, what strikes me most is how much fear clients express about feeling joy (because it might go away) and/or devalue its importance (joy doesn’t pay the bills). Yet, in both cases the object of their fear/disregard is very often the thing that can help them feel and function better. It’s true that joy can be fleeting and won’t, directly, pay the bills, but blocking it comes at a much higher cost than we realize. Brené Brown speaks to this in her book “The Gifts of Imperfection”:
“Don’t squander joy. We can’t prepare for tragedy and loss. When we turn every opportunity to feel joy into a test drive for despair, we actually diminish our resilience. Yes, softening into joy is uncomfortable. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s vulnerable. But every time we allow ourselves to lean into joy and give in to those moments, we build resilience and we cultivate hope.”
If you’re at all familiar with yoga, you’ve likely been in “Happy Baby” pose. Joy is an infant’s natural state. As we grow up, we may not experience joy as easily as we once did, but the ability to feel it is still part of our innate wiring. Whatever your story about joy may be – I don’t have the capacity for it, I don’t deserve it, or I don’t have time for it – I hope you’ll challenge yourself to think a new thought. Lacking joy is a symptom of something bigger, not a sign that you’re meant to live smaller.
Take a moment to check-in with the presence of joy in your life. When was the last time you felt it? If you’ve never felt it, who or what taught you not to seek it or that letting it in could set you back?