Posts Tagged ‘how to be a more joyful person’
Here are some beautiful thoughts on how to bring more joy into your life. It’s easy to feel sad, lonely and depressed when you ponder thoughts which highlight the thorns in your life. Here is something more uplifting, more positive, about living to experience the beauty of the rose and its fragrance, the serenity of a summer’s day, and more. Leave a comment to let us know what you think of it.
Living With Joy
By Shelley Riutta
What brings you joy? Fills your heart? Makes your spirit sing?
Do you know people who seem to be naturally joyful and wonder what their secret is? I believe that the feeling of joy can be cultivated, nurtured and expanded no matter what your starting point is. As a psychotherapist I have had a special interest in studying the blossoming field of Joy for the last two years.
There is an area of study in psychology called positive psychology which explores all of the factors that lead to the positive emotional states like joy, contentment, fulfillment etc. Paul Pearsall, Ph.D, author of Super Joy (Don’t you just love the title-not just “Joy” but “Super Joy”!) refers to himself as a Joyologist.
As soon as I read that I thought, “What a great idea-I’m going to be a joyologist too.” Feel free to adopt this title for yourself—no degree required– just a deep desire to learn what needs to happen to bring yourself more into this wondrous state in your day to day life.
So that is what I have been doing both personally and professionally—learning what brings people into that state of joy. This past spring I started a Joy group with clients who had an interest in learning with others how to bring more joy into their lives (all fellow joyologists!). I jokingly asked clients “I’m thinking of doing a Fear group or a Joy group—which would you like to join?”
In my practice I have always been committed to assisting clients to live more freely and authentically. I use breathwork and a psychospiritual process called Inner Bonding to help clients connect more fully with their bodies and by doing this they connect with their authentic feelings. Once feelings that have been held in the body are expressed and released a feeling of lightness follows.
When these denser emotions are freed the natural upwelling of peace and joy surfaces. What I hoped would happen for myself and my clients was that this state of peace and joy would just continue to grow until that was the natural state of being in the world. In many cases, myself included, maintaining this state consistently was just not happening.
That is when I began my exploring, asking the questions “What is happening here? Why is this feeling so difficult to consistently maintain?” What I found was that most people lived in a state of suppression of their core essence—the part of us that is in a state of joy. There also seemed to be an addiction—a deep attachment to feelings of anxiety, fear and depression.
I found that people loved that state of joy and peace but they didn’t have the tools or support to maintain these feelings. They had much more practice and support in being able to maintain their previous state of anxiety, depression and suppression. I had clients report that if they felt too joyful it scared them because they weren’t used to the feeling. They would often hear parental messages like “Don’t get so excited” “Be quiet” “Don’t be so full of yourself”.
Another common message was “I don’t deserve to feel this good.” Some clients reported that when they were feeling joyful friends and family who were in a less joyful state didn’t know how to react to them, or even worse they criticized them. Clients became aware of their own choices that would bring them from that state of joy back into anxiety or depression. There were fears about what would happen to current relationships if they maintained this state of joy and connection to their authentic self.
I wanted myself and my clients to be able to move more and more into that state of joy. What I found in my own personal process as well as in my work with clients were the following keys to living with more Joy.
1. A deep intention and commitment to being in a joyful state. This is the most important key to Joy. Our energy follows our intention. This is a moment-by- moment choice. What within me needs to shift in order to open up to the joy of this moment? What are your beliefs about joy?
Do you think it’s something that just happens to you or something you can actively cultivate and move more into in your life? Your beliefs shape your experiences. Notice how you react to joyful people—are you drawn to them or do you make judgments about them (i.e. they are fake, flaky, flighty, strange)?
2. Tools. Learning specific exercises and activities that helped shift them into a state of joy. Clients were able to identify things they could do to move them into a more joyful state. For each person this was different. Some would move into expressing gratitude or appreciation as a way of shifting into joy. For some a favorite activity would be their path to shifting. Others would have a favorite memory of a joyful time that would help them recapture those feelings.
3. Awareness of negative programming/messages/false beliefs that did not support Joy. When clients embraced the intention of being more in a state of Joy a lot of the old messages that blocked Joy would come to the surface. Once these messages were at the surface they could be healed and released.
The feelings also held in the body that were associated with these beliefs/experiences also needed to be released so the body was free to fully embody the Joy. Having a breathwork session or other emotional process work to move this energy through was essential.
Trying to move into Joy without releasing held in anger, fear, grief is like trying to get a hot air balloon loaded with rocks off of the ground—you just don’t get very far. What one needs to be mindful of in doing emotional process work is not to get stuck in processing old feelings over and over again.
This can be an unconscious way to feel safe—exploring the feelings of the past rather than taking the loving actions to live fully in the present. Pay attention. I hear from a lot of people lately who do a lot of personal growth work-”I’m sick of attending another workshop, reading another book—I just want to live”. This is their authentic self crying out to just be, express, love —to be in Joy. So releasing the past being mindful if it is bringing you more fully into the present.
4. Support. Connection with others who have the same intention to bring more joy into their lives. This is very powerful. I have always been such a believer in the transformative power of groups. Anytime I want to make a change in my life I look for a group of like minded people who can support my efforts.
Being a part of a supportive group can also meet our deepest needs for a sense of belonging and connection, as well as provide wonderful opportunities for laughter and play. Unless you already have a group of joyful people around you-a joy group would do wonders for supporting you on your path of Joy.
5. Being in the Present Moment opens us up to Joy. There is so much Joy in each moment if we fully are present to it. Having the mind in the past and future takes away from the Joy and peace of the present.
6. Following Dreams and Passions. What are your deepest dreams and passions? Taking loving action to manifest these dreams can open you up to tremendous energy and joy. A lot of the depression people experience is from the suppression of their authentic self who wants to just express itself fully in the world. Many of our dreams are a way to express the gifts we are here to share.
What can be important is to pursue the dreams without concern for the outcome. An example is someone who has a dream of singing. If you are concerned about others giving you approval for how great of a singer you are, the creative process will be tense and not very joyful.
If your intention is just to express yourself fully and to enjoy yourself as you are singing your experience will be totally different. The intention we have as we pursue our dreams can either make the experience a fun adventure or one fraught with tension and anxiety.
7. Lifestyle Changes. What changes do you need to make in your life to open you up to more Joy? For many people slowing down and not being as busy is essential to opening up to Joy. A common issue that I work with when clients start working with me is creating balance in their life. Many are exhausted and the only time they have to themselves is the time during our sessions. It is hard to be in a state of Joy if we are rushing around and feeling overwhelmed with day to day life.
Letting go of connections and activities that are draining in order to make space can be very helpful. A good way to do this is to let your body decide. Think of an activity that you have on your schedule next week-close your eyes and breathe—when you think of participating in the activity does the energy lift in your body and you feel good/excited or does your energy drop?
The body never lies. Our mind may give all the reasons why we should do this or be with this person but our body will always tell the truth. If it is an activity that you must be a part of you can ask your body (authentic self), “What can I do to make this experience more enjoyable for myself?” Just breathe and listen to the response you get back.
Even if you love all of the activities in your life, too many can take away the joy of each activity. We need time to savor activities and the people who are in our life. Look to see if you are on overload and make the necessary changes. De-cluttering the space around you can free up time and space. Again you can let your body decide when getting rid of things. Does your energy lift and feel good when you look at the object you are trying to decide on.
Ideally everything that surrounds you should be uplifting and pleasing to you. If an object is neutral or brings your energy down, let it go so someone who would truly value it.
8. Movement/Sound/Breath-Being fully in our body allows us to feel joy more completely. Do you know what the sensation of Joy feels like in your body? For some it can be a fluttering sensation in their hearts or a lightness throughout their body. Some people have not felt joy in so long they forgot what it feels like.
Movement can bring us more fully in the body. What ways do you move that bring you Joy? —dancing, biking, walking, yoga, running, skipping. Many of my clients love to dance, feeling very joyful and alive as they move. I give assignments to clients to have frequent dance sessions throughout the day—the more stressful the day the more dancing.
Dancing helps to move energy through the body. Our bodies are meant to move and we tend to live lifestyles that are very movement restricted. I joked with a client yesterday that wouldn’t it be nice if the clinic she worked for had noon hour dance sessions for the clients and the staff!!
What sounds bring you Joy? Is it listening to birds or beautiful music? Do you find joy in singing? I find most people love to sing yet don’t allow themselves to express this very often. Next time you are in the car just start belting out songs—songs that you know or just make them up.
Don’t deprive yourself of this joy any longer. Children who are naturally in that state of Joy move and make sound all of the time—just notice this the next time you are around children. Full connected breathing helps us to be more fully in our bodies. How do you breathe throughout the day? Some people notice that they hold their breath throughout the day.
When you hold your breath you are cutting off oxygen and energy to the body, decreasing your capacity to feel joy. Breathing fully is opening up more fully to being alive—it is like saying a big YES to life.
You may have noticed some things from the list that resonate with you and can assist you in moving more into Joy. There may be things you could do that weren’t listed. Take a moment right now and just close your eyes and breathe into your body asking the question “What do I need to change for me to bring more joy into my life?” just let go and see what comes into your mind. Next ask your body again “What could I do every day that would bring more joy into my day?” breathe and relax and let the answer float into your mind.
Now make a plan to implement this in your life possibly sharing this with a close friend or loved one. You can find someone to be your joy buddy-someone to explore with and support you. I have a friend who is also a psychotherapist turned joyologist who is my joy sister.
I have another friend who started a clown troupe years ago called “The Angels of Joy”. Taking these loving actions to bring more joy into your life can be a fun and playful adventure. I wish you all of the joy your heart desires.
Shelley Riutta MSE, LPC is a pioneer in the Holistic Psychotherapy field. She specializes in Transformational individual counseling, Presentations and Workshops. For her free Workbook “What Do You REALLY Want: Finding Purpose and Passion” and free monthly tele-classes visit her web-site at http://www.RadiantLifeCounseling.com