Joy is the emotional expression of the courageous yes to one’s own true being

“Joy is the emotional expression of the courageous yes to one’s own true being.”

—Paul Tillich, 20th Century German-American existentialist philosopher

Image from Unsplash by Zachary Nelson

How often do you jump for joy? When was the last time you experienced this feeling, lifting you to new heights of self-expression?

One way to explore this topic and perhaps make a few more leaps in the years ahead is to examine all the roles you play in life. How you spend your time and who you spend it with will offer clues to where and when you give yourself permission to shout yes to your own true being.

EXERCISE:

Who are the happiest and most joyful people you know? What is it about them that attracts you and others to them? How might you use their example to be more joyful yourself? If your list is a bit short, look to the children in your life for some coaching.

Joy is the most enduring cosmetic

“Joy is the most enduring cosmetic.”

—Chip Conley, American hospitality entrepreneur, author, and speaker

Image from Unsplash by Ian E.

I am a people watcher. How about you? Although I usually look at the whole person, recently I’ve paid far more attention to people’s faces. Beyond features of good bone structure and symmetry, I pay particular attention to their eyes. Perhaps it’s the two years of mask wearing that has us pay closer attention to these windows on how people are feeling to check in with each other.

EXERCISE:

Who are the most joyful people in your life? How can you increase your engagement with them to get a bit more of this enduring cosmetic on yourself? A good place to start is with young children.

The best mirror is a friend’s eye

“The best mirror is a friend’s eye.”

—Gaelic proverb

Rachel & Lesley (l) — Lesley & Ella (r)

My daughter Rachel’s best friend recently came for a surprise visit to see her, and to meet her new goddaughter, Ella.

Lesley and Rachel call each other Big Sis and Little Sis, and have been very close since grade school.

An elaborate plan for this visit was first orchestrated in November. With many of us playing our part, we accomplished the jaw dropping, tear-filled reunion.

Watching these two best friends reconnect over the next few days was a great gift for us as well.

EXERCISE:

Where and when have you experienced the value and joy of having a best friend? In what fun ways can you surprise them and show how very much they have meant to you over the years?

“Take only memories, leave only footprints.”

“Take only memories, leave only footprints.”

—Chief Seattle, Duwamish Tribe Leader & namesake of the City of Seattle

Image form Unsplash by NASA

Many of us are living simpler and more essentially these days. Taking less seems to be giving many of us more of the intrinsic things we value most.

I can recall visiting the Disney World exhibit sponsored by Kodak—the powerhouse of photography—when my kids were little. The catchy tune “Making Memories” inspired us to take a photo safari around the park, taking snapshots of us wearing the wild hats in each gift shop, without making a single purchase.

I also easily recall being glued to the TV in 1969 when man landed on the moon. Although some rocks were taken for study, the most impressive visual I recall was the astronauts jumping for joy, and of course, the many footprints they left, establishing the fact that they were there.

EXERCISE:

How would your life become even more fulfilling and meaningful if you embraced Chief Seattle’s coaching?

 

“Give every day the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life.”

“Give every day the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life.”

—Mark Twain, pen name of Samuel Clemens

Image from Unsplash by Fikri Rasyid

Consider your life as a roll of bathroom tissue.

When you are born you have 1,000 sheets to use. As the days, weeks, months and years pass, you begin to notice the roll is spinning faster. Perhaps you are now closer to the end of the roll than the beginning.

Consider the idea that rather than fretting that some or even many of those sheets have been wasted or lost, you still have the opportunity to make each moment of every day something to joyfully enjoy and celebrate.

EXERCISE:

How can and will you be far more intentional about making the most of each precious and beautiful day ahead?

“The rising sun blesses my mind with joy. The setting sun blesses my heart with peace.”

“The rising sun blesses my mind with joy. The setting sun blesses my heart with peace.”

—Sri Chinmoy, 20th Century Indian Spiritual Leader

Image from Unsplash by John Towner

Before electricity and the light bulb, our sun and perhaps the occasional fire influenced every aspect of life.

Sunlight was man’s alarm clock to rise and go about the day, to survive and be productive.

When the sun went down, it was time to relinquish our efforts and find safety in our homes with our family. It was time, hopefully, to settle into a peaceful and safe slumber until the sun woke us again.

How has the world — and particularly your life — changed from this simpler time? Consider the fact that we live in a world where the lights never seem to go out, even if its the dim light of your smart phone or the numbers on your alarm clock.

EXERCISE:

How much additional joy and peace might you experience if you more fully embraced a life guided further by the rising and setting of the sun?

Consider reading Waking up to the Dark – Ancient Wisdom for a Sleepless Age, by Clark Strand.

“I am more distress-avoidant than I am joy-seeking.”

“I am more distress-avoidant than I am joy-seeking.”

—Malcolm Gladwell, Canadian journalist, Author, and public speaker

“Creative Tension” is a term coined by Robert Fritz in his book The Path of Least Resistance from the late 1980s.

Essentially, it describes the tension that exists between our perception of our current reality and our vision for the future. Fritz points to the desirable and attractive nature of a committed vision, which draw or pulls our reality closer to it.

A common example of this phenomenon is the TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s Friday) approach many people experience as they look toward the weekend. Unfortunately, this concept also applies to the less desirable future which many people experience Sunday night if the prospects of Monday morning are experienced with apathy or dread.

EXERCISE:

To what degree are you more joy-seeking than distress-avoidant in your personal and professional lives? What actions can and will you take to intentionally design more positive experiences in the days, weeks, and years ahead?

All the Joy I Can Wish

“I wish you all the joy I can wish.”

—William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act II, Scene 2

Boys jumping in a field

Image by Robert Collins on Unsplash

With the holiday season upon us, and the new year just ahead, Shakespeare’s wish feels quite appropriate.

Take some real time to reflect on the people, things, and experiences that bring you joy and reach out to those you love with extra hugs and the kind words we often neglect.

EXERCISE:

How and where can you share Shakespeare’s wish of joy throughout your communities this holiday season, and all year long?