This post is the second part of a post on Choosing Joy. See Choosing Joy Part 1 if you missed it.
How Do You Listen to Joy?
I was surprised that at first I wasn’t good at instinctively choosing joy. When I listened to my thoughts and did something that I thought would bring me joy, I often discovered that thing was anti-joy. I learned that when I let my ego’s need to feel special, talented, please others, or measure up to external expectations guide my actions I was on the path of anti-joy.
In fact, when I used my mind to think about what might bring me joy I almost always fooled myself. I needed to listen to my heart to align myself with joy.
My heart spoke through feelings, intuition, and a sense of knowing that resided in my body. I started noticing how I felt when I did things that I knew brought me joy. When I picked up my camera and went out with it with no particular intention other than seeing beauty, my heart sang, my body was filled with energy, and I felt a sense of rightness in what I was doing. I paid attention to the intuitive “Yes!” I sometimes felt about an idea or activity and then noticed how it felt to actually do the activity.
“Joy is a marvelous increasing of what exists, a pure addition out of nothingness.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Ahead of All Parting: The Selected Poetry and Prose
I learned to listen to my body for little signposts of joy and anti-joy.
For me, anti-joy almost always expresses itself physically as dis-ease, pain, or tiredness.
And the feeling of joy is almost like an inner giggle in my solar plexus along with a feeling of rightness. When I am doing something that brings me joy it brings me energy but when I am doing something anti-joy it sucks the energy right out of me. Time often disappears when I’m doing something that brings me joy and it seems to slow to a crawl when I am doing something anti-joy.
When Ego Moves in Joy Moves Out
The most surprising thing I learned in my joy explorations, was that the intentions I held in my mind had a huge impact on whether I felt joy or anti-joy. If I was worried about looking stupid, being “good enough,” or too outcome focused, joy evaporated.
Joy lives in the depths of the soul. It is part of your essence—star stuff, soul stuff, eternal.
Joy does not depend upon any particular external circumstances to show up. It is present even when things fall apart. But internal thoughts, judgments, and expectations can stop you from feeling joy.
I needed to let go of any intention other than joy to fully experience and discover joy in my life. When I let go of the need to build a successful photography business, be productive, or prove my worth, I discovered the power of choosing joy.
Without choosing joy I survive; choosing joy I thrive!
“Consciousness is not an either/or equation. It’s about bothness. The capacity to expand into bothness ― the awareness of your joy in all circumstances ― is so much of what it means to evolve… Happiness is like rising bubbles ― delightful and inevitably fleeting. Joy is like the oxygen ― ever present.”― Danielle LaPorte
Joy is our birthright.
Joy is in each of us. It never goes away even if we bury it under layers of duty, fear of being different, anger, or hopelessness.
To help choose joy in your life:
- Give yourself to living in the present moment. Let go of the past and the future and give yourself fully to each moment.
- Let go of the need to judge everything and everyone as “good” or “bad.” Accept what is.
- Deeply listen to your inner wisdom. Does joy express through your body? as a feeling? as a knowing?
- Let go of the need for a specific outcome. Open yourself to exploration and play with no particular outcome in mind.
- Practice gratitude and practice seeing beauty and ordinary miracles all around you.
- Rest in the knowledge that you are perfect just as you are. There is nothing you need to prove, no one you need to please.
- Be compassionate and gentle with yourself on the journey.
May you walk in beauty (and joy)!