Last week I wrote about my occasionally tendency to dip my toes into the sea of negativity and not because it felt nice but because it was easy. I think we like to believe that joy is a given, that it shouldn't be something we have to work at but a baseline that we are entitled to. In the past when I have been feeling a bit 'woe is me' my husband has reminded me that happiness isn't just going to 'arrive one day in a taxi' and although I would nod my head solemnly, but I would be thinking, Whyyyy! It' snot fair! The idea of having to work for it was too much work.
It's become a blogger cliche banging on about hashtag finding the joy but like many cliches it exists because there's some truth in it. Why do we need to be reminded through snapshots of artfully filtered life to seek out something so wonderful and life affirming, because we're scared. Okay, let me own it, because I'm scared. Scared of my own power. If I have it in me to control my joy why not everything else?
As a support worker I have had the privilege of working with families in some of the most challenging circumstances one could imagine and many of these individuals have been some of the most joyful I have met. When happiness isn't handed to you, you are forced to make your own and when you become practiced at doing that it becomes easier to tap into that skill when you need it.
I want to make that skill a habit, as instinctive as my morning cup of coffee and so this week's mission was to start small and inject just a few minutes of joy into life each day. Personally I feel the most joy when I'm not thinking, just feeling and I'm no more in the moment than when I'm dancing. I used to dance quite regularly, at one point every Friday and funds allowing Saturday, but creaking joints and baby birthing put paid to that, so now I don't do it much at all. This week I decided that I don't need power hungry bouncers and warm mixed drinks to dance, I can do it in my PJs and that's what I did. Every day I danced to a tune from my life affirming playlist. I felt a bit self conscious the first day, even though I was alone but the next day it felt natural and the day after I invited my son to join me and he did gladly. I found that when joy is shared it grows exponentially, the joy I was throwing out he was catching, enhancing and throwing back to me.
The best thing about making your own joy is not even the moment itself but the way it underpins your day; shifts your perspective just enough to find the green shoots in cracks of the cement wall of life. So there were moments when I felt a bit anxious, for example I attended my friend's book launch and was all in my own head about the crowds of super polished professionals, but my spiritual gaze turned towards the joy (My pride in my friend; a child free event; free white wine!) and although the anxiety wasn't eliminated it felt like a fly buzzing round the joy cake I had baked.
The best thing about teaching myself to be joyful was feeling more confident that I can teach my son to be so too; it has surpassed good manners and proper hygiene in my non negotiable parenting goals list. When all is said and done life, and parenting, is about creation and given the choice shouldn't you choose to create just a little more joy?
My life affirming playlist this week (don't judge):
Survivor - Destiny's Child
Jump Around - House of Pain
Move on Up - Curtis Mayfield
Do You Know the Way to San Jose - Dionne Warwick
Teenage Dream - Katy Perry
No Control - One Direction
Love on Top - Beyonce
What do you or would you do to bring a little joy into your life every day?
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