This is an interview I did with Amber Bonnici for her Women Unleashed Retreat in 2015, on choosing joy.
You’ve got choices. You can listen to the recording here, or read the article below. Or both.
I was born in Austria, and if you know much about traditional European culture, you might know that it can be quite strict, and tenuous, which meant that I grew up in a rigid and mostly joyless home environment.
When my mother was married to my stepfather, she was deeply unhappy. When she became a single mother of 3 children, she was deeply stressed, and when her children left home, she was deeply lonely. Joy rarely played a role in our day-to-day. My mother believed that in order to be a good person and a good mother, she had to be a martyr. And there is little room for joy in martyrdom.
So as humans, we always naturally seek out contrasts, and I was inclined to seek out other ways of being and experiencing life. As I embarked out into life, and started traveling and seeing the world though my own lens, instead of my mother’s, I began to meet people for whom joy was normal. And I learned from them. As I learned, I discovered that, the more joy I experienced, the more good things happened in my life, and the happier, more fulfilled and whole I felt. Things started to come to me easily and life started to have a lustrous glow about it.
WHAT IS JOY
Joy is more than happiness, just as happiness is more than pleasure. Pleasure is in the body. Happiness is in the mind and feelings. Joy, on the other hand, is deep in the heart, the spirit, the center of the self.
Joy is what we experience when we are fully accepting of ourselves and our present moment.
Joy is your natural state of being. Babies, for example, enter this state very easily because they are fully in the present moment. They do not seek themselves in the past or future.
When you are joyful, your life flows with ease and lightness. Life is no longer a struggle. Why? Because when you stop resisting the present moment, you stop creating problems for yourself. Resistance creates internal problems like stress, fear, and disease, but it also creates external problems like conflict, scarcity, and injustice.
When you learn to choose the direction that creates the most joy in your life, your life will become a joyful experience in each and every moment. And of course it is easy to accept and embrace any present moment in which you feel joyful, so the state will naturally perpetuate itself.
Joyful feelings create joyful actions, which produce more joyful feelings.
The state of joy enables you to stop worrying about your survival, to stop fearing what may or may not happen, and to stop fighting your present moments.
You’ll find it easier and easier to satisfy your needs. This will allow you to direct your consciousness outward and interact with the world without fear. People will seem much less threatening to you. Even strangers will smile at you more because they’ll pick up on your joyful state. Positive people will be drawn to you like a magnet, and you’ll soon find your life filled with empowering relationships. All the support you need will come to you. And this in turn will give you the energy and drive to embrace your true purpose.
*Let’s put that into practice right now. Stretch, take a deep breath and give thanks for the present moment. I’d like you to get out your journal, and at the top of a new page write this affirmation:
I easily release anything that
keeps me from experiencing
joy in my life.
Now, sit up, comfortably and quietly and close your eyes. Keep your spine straight and just let go of everything as you relax. Breathe slowly and deeply for ten breaths, just noticing the quality of your breath as you breathe in and out.
Focus on your breath and then let your mind wander on the affirmation. Repeat it to yourself. Allow it to wash over you as you move your attention between the affirmation and your breath from time to time.
Now, when you are ready, come back, and arrive fully back in your seat.
BELIEFS THAT KEEP US FROM EXPERIENCING JOY
Many of us have been taught, at the very least on a subconscious level, that anything worthwhile or of value has to be hard. That to do valuable work, you have to be miserable. That to be a valued member of society you have to suffer, that through fear and hardship, NOT joy, great things are achieved.
These old paradigms are of course, absolutely not true.
But the thing is that, anything we believe, is true for us. As we make it so.
Because we believe that to be good means to suffer, we create experiences that support these beliefs. We create obstacles and challenges to make our lives seem more meaningful, harder and thereby more worthwhile. And the way that we do that, is by firmly negotiating with the past or future, and never fully being in the present.
We question whether we deserve to feel joyful.
We worry about what might happen.
We anguish about what did happen.
And miss out on the joy that IS happening right now!
HOW TO CHOOSE JOY
We are going to embrace the present and step into joy, by doing a few journaling exercises. Get your journals and pens ready, as I am going to ask you to join me in doing a 5 part journaling practice, that will help you choose joy.
Make sure you write down all the questions and statements as we go along, so you can finish them later.
One of the secrets of happiness is to really recognise joy when you experience it. You might be walking along the street and feeling terrible, but if you see a colourful flower or you’re struck by the beauty of the sun shining through the leaves, stop right where you are. Say to yourself, ‘This is so beautiful! This is joy. I am feeling joy in this moment.’
Then, do your best to hold onto that feeling for thirty seconds. Let it radiate through your body, allow your bones to marinate in the positivity.
The point? Firstly, it’ll help you see the happiness in tiny moments. And secondly, you’re training your brain to recognise joy, which makes it easier to be aware of it in the future. Pretty awesome.
Journaling exercise: When was the last time you experienced joy? Write it down in full detail, until you can feel it in your body.
Often, in order to make room for joy, we have to release something else that is taking its place.
So, write in your journal. I’m going to give you some prompts.
WRITE THE FOLLOWING:
Starting today, I am releasing the following [commitments / habits / old projects] from my life:
(Write down at least 3 things!)
I am releasing these things because I need to create time & energy for joy.
These things no longer have a place in my life.
They might be things like, worry, trying to solve problems, reviewing and feeling guilty about the past and so on.
Trust. Trusting that life is being taken care of, and that you are fully supported. So let’s complete this statement in your journal:
When things feel overwhelming, I will remind myself that my job is simply to: ___________________.
Recognise what brings you joy. Again, write in your journal and answer these 3 questions:
How do you want to feel?
What are your deepest desires?
What do you want to experience?
What do you want to give yourself?
Making decisions from a space of joy. What feels like the most fun, most light, most playful? DO that.
Whenever you’re faced with a decision, even a seemingly mundane one such as what to eat for your next meal, choose the option that brings you closest to joy. That will be the option that makes you feel the most powerful and most alive, and that is the choice that will turn your life in the direction of joy.
Choose something that you need to make a decision about, and you feel unsure of what the answer is. Write a statement about what that decision is in your journal.
For example, last week a client was trying to decide whether to move house or not. She felt that her current house was too large, and was getting too messy far too quickly, which made her feel overwhelmed and disorganised. She had an opportunity to move to a new smaller place, with a garden, but she just wasn’t sure what to do.
She also thought that perhaps she just needed to clean out and tidy her current place, but it all just felt like a jumble of decisions that felt heavy and hard.
So I asked her to do an exercise which I call ‘Feel it out.’ I’m going to ask you to do the same thing.
I asked her to feel what it would feel like, if she was to move to the new place with the garden.
She replied that she felt like it would be really hard work and no fun at all. She also said that she wasn’t the type of person to care for a garden, so the place didn’t really bring her much joy.
Then I asked her what it would feel like, to clear all the clutter out of her current home, give away everything she didn’t need and reorganise it. She answered that, that would be really fun, as she could get her kids involved and make it into a little bit of a party. This decision made her feel more joyful.
Finally I asked her, what her current dream living arrangements would be. And it all came tumbling out very quickly. What she really wanted, was to move into a much smaller apartment right on the beach. This was where her joy lies.
And within a few days, she found the perfect place, at a price she could afford, that was way better than the options she thought she had to begin with!
I’d like you to do the same:
- What are the choices for the decision you are having to make?
- What do each of those choices feel like?
- What would bring you the most joy?
You can practise this exercise for everything you do in life, and watch how beautifully, miraculously and easily the life of your dreams, one that is filled with joy, unfolds!
One of the wonderful side effects of choosing joy, is the myriad of opportunities and wonders it brings into our lives. I often speak about manifesting our desires into a tangible reality, and what an important role feeling joyful plays in the manifesting process, so as a free gift, I’d like to invite you to keep practicing joyful-ness in combination with attracting the things that you want in my 7 Day Manifesting Course. The details and links to access the Free 7 Day Manifesting Course can be found below.