I am so excited to be part of Unleash Your Joy... a complimentary, virtual event beginning May 9th, bringing together 21 experts to share our secrets for making simple shifts to create more joy in life.
So I've been thinking a lot about what 'unleash your joy' means. Here's what I've come up with...
80% of it has to do with ACTIVITIES THAT INCREASE JOY, such as...
watch funny movies,
cradle a baby,
visit with friends,
do something creative,
do charitable work,
work with your hands on a craft or art form,
take a walk,
play a game
participate in a sport
cook a delicious meal,
do something that's a 'treat'
And if all else fails... play with a puppy!!!
Another way to unleash our joy -still part of the 80% mentioned above - is to SWITCH THINGS UP...
try something new,
do something differently,
try something 'out of character,'
go somewhere you've never been,
change up a habit,
do something in reverse order,
do something courageous.
Almost any kind of busting out of our habitual mold will enliven us.
So far, so good. But what about the other 20%?
What is joy, anyway?
Joy is an emotion.
What are emotions?
Emotions are feeling states that flow through us. Each in their turn, we feel, anger, joy, ecstasy, sadness, tenderness, love, compassion, frustration, etc.
Each one is like being in a different state, or location. Just as when we are on vacation we seem to forget about home and when we're home we can hardly remember what it feels like to be on vacation, when we are sad, it is as if we forget what happiness feels like, and vice versa.
Joy is one of many emotions we feel, one of the many moods or 'feeling states' that flow through us.
However, there is another, greater sense of joy...and that is the overarching joy of experiencing ALL the emotions as they pass through us, without getting stuck on any one. This type of joy encompasses ALL the emotions.
The joy of being alive is the joy of feeling ALL our emotions.
If the emotions are like water flowing through a river bed, joy is experiencing all the bends and turns and twists of the river - the placid parts as well as the rushing torrents, the bubbling stream and the plunging waterfall.
In order to experience that type of joy, we must be free to experience all the different types of emotions. This is where we struggle, and why we feel the need to work to 'seek joy' or 'unleash joy' or 'find joy'...
This kind of joy gets blocked by trauma.
What is trauma?
Trauma is simply blocked emotion.
It starts as an experience that we are unable to process at the time. The experience gets suppressed, tucked into the cells of the body until such a time as it may be felt and released.
It's as if the original experience has been frozen in time, and yet it continues to make itself felt through our reactions of fear, pain, sadness, anger and depression. The unresolved trauma re-asserts itself over and over without finding release, like a record stuck in a groove.
This frozen chunk of unprocessed experience and unreleased emotion is like a block of ice stopping the flow of the river.
Or to put it more poetically (ahem!) it is like a hairball in the catgut of life! (cough, cough) Gotta get that stuff up and out or the whole system gonna shut down!
Unleash Your JoyJoy is the pretty picture that everyone strives for, but that picture does not tell the whole story. It's like in ballet - everyone admires the dancers leaping through the air as if they are weightless. What fun! What freedom! What joy!
But every dancer knows that each leap is created in the bending of the knees, the plié, the preparation for the jump that presses into the earth in order to release the body like a spring into the air.
There is no leap without its plié, just as there is no joy without springing the bonds that are holding us down in hurt or trauma. And that requires going deep in order to create the release.
When we release trauma we regain access to all our emotions. And when we feel all our emotions we feel fully alive. That is true joy.
We can cry, and smile, and feel touched by tenderness. We can respond fully and freely to the river of life as it flows through us and around us. We are not closed off or shut down in any way; we are open to life.
The happy-making activities we do are only 80% of the equation. The remaining 20% means looking within, to begin the job of loving ourselves back to life.
When we process our trauma, we melt those frozen bits. We cough up that choking hairball of emotions we swallowed and suppressed. We un-dam the river and we allow it to flow again.
And when we do that, at last, we welcome true joy back into our lives.
Did you enjoy 'Unleash Your Joy"? I'd love to read your comments, below.
Click here to be my guest at the Unleash Your Joy virtual summit and have access to all 21 fabulous interviews and speaker gifts.
Bestselling author and life coach Reba Linker is ready to lead you on the path of self-love to a more joyful life. Are you ready to unleash your joy? Click here to learn more about Reba's books, courses, life coaching, and TV show!
The e-course, "9 Self-Love Keys to Change Your Life," is available through the Daily OM on a pay-what-you-wish basis, starting at $10 for all 9 MODULES - a great opportunity to dip your toes (or dive deeper) into the self-love waters. Click here to register.