I remember this moment as though it were yesterday.
It was the summer of 2011, and I was sitting on a crowded stretch of grass opposite my best friend, surrounded by hundreds of gorgeous women, all attending Colour Conference in Sydney. The memory is so vivid. It seemed, in that moment, as though we were surrounded by joy, yet I felt as though I had completely lost mine. My life had changed so much in the previous two years, all for the better... yet somehow, the closer I got to living the life I longed for, the less joy I seemed to have. It just didn't make any sense!
I remember unsuccessfully trying to hold back frustrated tears while explaining these helpless feelings to my friend, and in that moment, all I could see and hear were carefree, happy women, chatting, laughing, and enjoying the sunshine all around us.
My best friend is a truly wonderful friend! She sat there listening intently, then empathised lovingly, and assured me that I absolutely would find my joy again soon.
JOY. What is it?
Whatever it was, I knew I didn't have it.
How does one find it? I had no idea where to start looking or what to look for.
If you were to ask me to define 'joy' back then I would likely have sobbed harder because I really had no idea what it was or how to find it.
That was the day I decided it was time to find out. It was time to find my joy again.
The first place I went looking for it was in 'doing busy'. I felt better when I was busy.
So I looked for joy in a new career. I looked for joy in meeting new people. I looked for it in rearranging my home.
I looked for it by browsing on my phone whenever I was alone. (really?!?!)
My hopes would rise when it seemed like I'd found it, only to somehow lose it again.
How was I ever going to find it AND find a way to maintain it and not keep losing it again?
Fast forward twelve years, and many short-lived attempts at this quest called "finding joy", and I have come to better understand my problem. I was approaching my search for JOY in really unhelpful ways.
I am happy to share that I have finally found a better solution to 'finding' my joy, and I'd love to share it with you here.
Merriam Webster definition of JOY:
- the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires
- a state of happiness
mmm... so joy is an emotion or a state of being....
This was my 'light bulb' moment: Joy is an emotion or a state of being!
My life coaching studies have taught me that emotions pondered/processed lead to feelings, and feelings and states can be chosen.
So, if joy is viewed as a feeling or a state, it means that we can choose it!
So,what if JOY is something I can choose rather than something I need to find?
What if JOY is NOT a 'thing' somewhere out there? What if it's not a thing for us to go out and search for or a thing to find?
Rather, what if JOY is a choice we get to make from within?
What if it is a feeling or a state that we can choose if we'd like to?
The fact is, we get to choose our thoughts.
Every moment of every day.
In his book, "What to say when you talk to yourself", Shad Helmsetter shares this:
Leading behavioural researchers say that as much as 77% of everything we think is negative, counterproductive, and works against us!"
If this is true, then we have work to do!
What if we could choose better thoughts?
What if it is possible to choose to focus on the things in our life that are good, the things we're grateful for?
(even when it's hard work and we just don't feel like it...)
I'm not saying that we shouldn't acknowledge the negative, or that we should put our head in the sand, pretending the hard stuff is not there, but what if we were to also remember to acknowledge the good?
What if we were possible to choose to have a few extra joy-filled thoughts sprinkled through every day?
I'm reminded of this childhood song "Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice!"
....mmm maybe there is some wisdom to those words after all!
Your emotions and feelings don't need to control your life. You do actually have choice and control over your feelings!
Behind your feelings and thoughts are beliefs. You get to choose what to believe about each and every circumstance in your life.
(If you want to know more, there's a whole module on the topic of beliefs in my FINDING YOU mentorship).
Since that picnic tea all those years ago, I have discovered, that when I choose moments in my day to turn my focus towards God, who He is for me, His goodness, His grace and His endless love towards me, then my negative state shifts.
When I remind myself that He is for me, that I am not alone, and that His ways are greater than mine, then I feel more at peace, I feel light, and I even notice the joy that IS (and always was) in my heart.
And when I read verses like Psalm 16:11 "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever more.", I am reminded that I can choose fullness of joy.
Now it's your turn.
I invite you to give it a go:
Pause for a moment. Think about something that you're grateful for. If you choose, I encourage you to think about God's goodness.
Think about the fact that He is always with you, that He knows you better than you know you, that He will always love you (no matter what you do), that He has great plans for you, that nothing is impossible for Him, that you have eternal life in Him.
When you intentionally focus on thinking about all these things, notice how your feelings start to shift.
For me, I know that when I think about these things, joy most certainly fills my heart!
I'd love to hear if this helps you choose joy too.
If this is an area you struggle with, then I invite you to book a coaching session.
(It's okay if you don't believe in God. It's not a requirement for coaching).
During our session together we'll explore different ways to choose brighter feelings and also ways to help you manage your state better.
If one-on-one coaching feels too much, yet you're still curious about figuring out a way to feel more joy filled, then I invite you to join my online FINDING YOU mentorship. Inside are modules that will help you explore the key foundational principles to help you live your life more simply fulfilled and more joy filled.