Whether freshly committed to making meaningful change in this new year or working through the challenges of a new health reality, do not underestimate the transformative power of a little thing called Joy.
Though if you're like me, you might overestimate the energy needed to usher it into your life. It's not hard, it just takes a little intention. Here's what I mean:
I'm a 37-year-old writer/producer/meditation guide/heath-and-wellness activist. My daily to-do list is rarely short. In March 2014, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and realized (with conviction!) that I must chart a new path within a new health reality.
This journey forward would be carved by an overarching challenge: Resist Plowing Through Life. Also known as: Learn how to savor the best in life as I wrangle with the inherent difficulties of an unexpected diagnosis that affects (but never defines) me.
Navigating this new world requires a ton of reflection. And in my very busy, very lovely life (case in point, that multi-hyphenate job title in my introduction to you, dear reader), I discovered a simple but valuable truth: I sometimes forget about Joy. Indeed, my observations as a trained mediation guide showed me the healing power of this state of being. Totally transformative! Beyond a doubt, I know Joy is vital. And yet, some ingrained wiring tells me a story that Joy is attained by doing more -- more work, more yoga, more of the To-Do list -- when really it's the opposite. The challenge to Resist Plowing Through Life is a call to slow myself. Not out of weakness or sickness, but as a way to reject the common misconception that more action means we're more valuable.
To my fellow type-A movers-and-shakers out there who still think that busy-ness equates to more self worth, let me say this: Joy is valuable and valid, regardless of how it comes to you.
Busier is certainly not better. In fact, for my entire adult life, I underestimated the value of boredom as a conduit for Joy. This beautiful, transporting state of being can find us more easily when we settle down enough to give it a chance to seep through a packed schedule. So if you've been busy making a demanding list of what you want to accomplish for the year, pause for a moment to consider that too much on the ole To-Do list may be hamstringing the ability to actually achieve our desires, resolutions and intentions.
Here's the gist of what I've learned from exploring this state of being:
Joy isn't checking off all the To-Dos.
Joy isn't creating a huge following for my wellness newsletter, Thrive with MS.
Joy isn't having a full social calendar... Or business calendar, for that matter.
Joy is: loving and being loved. Unscheduled time. Nature. Playing. Physical activity: yoga, dance, anything. It's there in singing.
Joy is finding your spirit in meditation. It's parachuting, paragliding, zip lining -- finding the next adventure.
Joy can be an absolutely mundane life. It can look like decorating, or even just cleaning house. Maybe it's simply having a home.
It bubbles up over lunch, coffee, or wine with a loved one. It is the chord that stretches between friends across the dinner table, across the living room, across the globe. Joy is in love notes from soul mates -- texts, emails, and treasured papers wrapped in envelopes.
Joy gets buried in a too full inbox. It comes alive on vacation and peeks back at you from the photo stream -- your own smiling face reminding you that -- yes -- Joy exists -- you found it, and can discover it again. Easily.
Joy is in earning money from doing your heart's desire. But it also might still thrive when a paycheck allows room to flourish in life beyond any career.
It bursts through our hearts and yet still it hides: waiting, hoping to be found, enticing us to search and have faith in its existence. And in our ability to mine for it over and over again.
Joy is tangible in our loved ones, but ephemeral in our lives. It can visit us sporadically or constantly -- depending on our dedication. Just trust it. Trust that Joy is within, that it surrounds, and that it's available to all, but personalized completely for each of us.