For much of my first 40 years, I had a habit of “holding joy” until I earned it.
There were a lot of stories in my head about why that was necessary:
- That joy had to be earned.
- That it would be more joyful if I could just wait.
- That hard work and sacrifice come before joy.
- That it would feel better if I had been deprived and then felt joy.
- And, on and on it goes.
About eight years ago I began to play with creating and experiencing joy whenever I felt like it. I wouldn’t say that before then I never had moments of spontaneous joy (I definitely did) or that joy didn’t sometimes happen before the hard work, but I was harsher with myself about not allowing joy until I had earned it.
[I just had a visual of myself as the joy police! Joy, you will not enter here. Joy, you are confined until you have served your time. Joy, slow down and pull over. SIGH and LOL!]
The reality is that the more I allowed joy to infuse all parts of my life, the more the things I was working on and working for came more easily. In other words, allowing the joy first brought about more productivity, more fulfillment, more health, more happiness, better relationships, and all the good things. Joy first!!
As time has gone on, I’ve lost a bit of that joy. That’s not because it isn’t readily available to me… it’s because I haven’t been working to find and experience it as much. I’m much better about finding joy today than I was ten years ago, but perhaps not quite as good as I was with it five years ago.
Like most things that matter and keep us in a healthy place, it’s all about practice. It’s time for me to start practicing joy a bit more throughout the day.
I’ve actually done quite well for years now with keeping my morning infusion of joy and that’s a practice I plan/hope to always have. It’s been a foundational part of every day for me and I credit it with helping me thrive.
Do you have joy practices in your life? Do you allow and make joy for yourself anytime, anyplace? Or do you hold your joy until you’ve earned it?
Whether you feel like you’re a joy pro or part of the joy police force or somewhere in between, might you want to consider building a morning joy infusion practice into your life, or bolstering the one you already have?
In case it’s helpful, here are some ideas for morning infusions of joy:
- Say hello to your plants and see how they’ve grown in the last 24 hours.
- Play your pet’s favorite game with them.
- Enjoy a cup of tea.
- Walk out to your garden to see what is blooming.
- Read a chapter from your favorite book.
- Put on your favorite station and dance for a few minutes.
- Tickle your partner or kiddo (if they’re OK with it).
- Sing or chant.
- Watch the clouds pass by and see what creatures you can find.
- Knit a few rows of the scarf you are working on.
- Write in your gratitude journal.
- Enjoy a deliciously ripe peach.
- Play an instrument. There’s always the air guitar!
- Cut a few blooms off of a plant and put them in a vase by your work station.
- Flip through your favorite photo album.
And, if you feel like you just don’t have the time in the morning to give space for these joy infusions, will you consider waking up 10 minutes earlier to give yourself this gift? It could make your whole day better.
Don’t hold back joy until you’ve earned it. You already deserve it and are worthy of infinite joy just by being you.
This post is also a part of The Anchor email series, which we’re sending out to help provide you support and grounding and hope during this challenging time. If you’d like to receive The Anchor in your inbox a few times a week, you can sign up here.