Since it is August, a time most associated with vacation and fun, I would like to talk about the topic of JOY.
Would you believe me if I told you that happiness/joy is the hardest emotion to tolerate and sustain? Probably Not.
If a genie popped out of a bottle and gave you your idealized life, you wouldn’t be able to tolerate it. Maybe for a few minutes or a few days but then you would most likely unconsciously sabotage it.
Don’t believe me? Let’s try a little experiment.
Close your eyes and take in a few deep breaths. Then ask yourself what it is that brings you the most joy or pleasure. Notice how many things come up. Is it hard for you to identify? Is your list short or long? Watch out for judgments that may pop up. Next notice how often if at all, you indulge yourself in this place. Watch out for all of the excuses you tell yourself that keep you from doing anything pleasurable.
Surprised by your response? You shouldn’t be. There are unconscious beliefs that hold us back from true joy.
Let me explain.
There are four primary emotions that we as human beings can experience. They are happiness, sadness, anger and fear. Most of us think of sadness, anger and fear as “negative” feelings and do our best to avoid them. We have all sorts of conscious and unconscious little tricks we use to keep those unpleasant feelings at bay. Here’s the thing though, all of our emotions are on one dial. So if we turn the dial down on (let’s say) our fear, then we turn it down on all of them. That means we just limited our capacity for joy!
Most of us go around striving for happiness, which makes a lot of sense because we are a species programed for love, joy and connection. Aka Bliss. At the same time we are actively avoiding those other unpleasant feelings. But in avoiding those other feelings, we are also in essence avoiding our joy. Thus we are now the dog chasing it’s own tail. I know it sounds counterintuitive but the more you are willing to feel your sadness, the greater your capacity for joy.
The path to a life of great joy is nothing more then the willingness to feel everything, all the way.
Here’s my challenge for the month. See how much you can stretch your capacity for joy. See if you can quiet the judgments, soften the resistance and really give yourself permission to do the things that bring you the most pleasure and joy.
TO BE CONTINUED…