As we emerge from long seasons of change and uncertainty, we need to give ourselves permission to feel good again. For many of us, this involves reconnecting to what brings us joy. It involves (re)learning how to foster feelings of ease and a sense of hope even as things might still be a bit wobbly or uncertain. This is our invitation to get curious and reconnect with our natural creativity to imbue our lives with ease, joy and maybe even a few moments of merriment.
Joy and creativity can re-ignite our spark after long seasons of uncertainty. There are many ways we can cultivate joy and remind ourselves of the ways in which we can feel hope-filled and energized. One way to cultivate joy is to make a list of things that bring unique and blissful moments of joy.
Making a list or knowing does nothing to transform our lives if we don’t take action, though. So, let’s explore some easy and joyful ways to move lists from inspiration to committed action.
· Scheduling: Set aside time for play, creativity, unproductivity, and emotional expression. Creating blocks of time in our calendars to enjoy creative expression, feel our feelings, inhabit our bodies, and just be well gets us that much closer to making it happen.
· Celebration: Recognize the efforts, wins, and the little moments of victory in rising. Celebrate for the big and the small.
· Awareness and intention: Identify the desire to bring more joy, ease, creativity, and flow.
· Attitude: We have the power to create our reality through the perspective we choose to see through. Bring on the enthusiasm of a growth mindset and embrace curiosity and light-heartedness
· Music: Music has the power to boost, transform, and validate moods. Create mood playlists and enjoy the hunt for new songs that inspire and soothe.
· Follow the energy: When we feel good, we have more energy to do the things we love and make an impact. Seek out people, experiences, and responsibilities that bring life and energy.
· Spirit and soul: The word inspiration means be in-spirit. What feeds your soul? What motivates you to live in a way that feels good. Find your higher power through purpose.
· Reclaim: Reclaim your right to emotions and recovery. All emotions are neutral; they need a mindful and compassionate witness.
Mindfulness is a practice we can leverage to enhance our joyful experiences. Mindfulness is the practice of noticing, of slowing down long enough for awareness to bring our emotions into focus. When we are truly aware of how we are feeling, we are able to give ourselves the attention we need to take care of our emotions state. Then, we are free to rise toward how we truly wish to feel.
Emotions left unaddressed can create dysregulation. Our survival instinct makes us hard-wired for threat. As such, we are often attuned to emotions that keep us safe like fear, stress, and even loneliness. When we experience emotions like joy, self-awareness and mindfulness are tools that can help us notice, appreciate, and live that joy.
Here is an example of how to do this work. This applies with emotions like joy, and also the less desirable emotions, like fear.
See it: Notice what you are feeling. “I noticed joy!”
Name it: Call is what it is “I see you, joy.”
Place it: Where is it coming from? “I’m really having a good time with this activity.”
Release it: “Thank you, joy, for reminding me how good it feels.” This feeling served its purpose.
We want to invest our time in what makes us feel good, in what brings us joy and meaning and purpose. Living within our values helps us to feel most aligned and authentic. But the meaning we make from our experiences and the purpose we feel is a very personal matter. It is different for everyone. We can find meaning in many places.
Our culture tends to put a lot of pressure on finding and then living our purpose. That pressure to find our purpose can sometimes lead us to feel inferior or like a failure, if we haven’t managed to stumble upon it yet. The idea of purpose can also conjure up grandiose notions of obtaining fame and fortune or having wild adventures. But just because we are sold that idea of purpose doesn’t mean it is aligned with what we value. Our purpose doesn’t have to be loud and huge and in your face. It can be quiet and simple and sustaining, too.
Ultimately, finding our purpose may be a path of exploration, experimentation, play, and following our passion. Our passion is simply what lights us up from the inside, what drives us to engage and get curious and commit our energy to something. When we feel vibrant, energized, and connected with what matters most to us, we likely have stumbled upon our passion.
Below is an adapted version of The Calling Scale by Dobrow and Tosti-Kharas. It is a handy tool to assist us in experimenting with finding our passion.
1) I am passionate about _________
2) I enjoy ________ more than anything else.
3) Being/doing _____________________ gives me immense personal satisfaction.
4) I would sacrifice everything to be a ________________.
5) The first thing I share, when I describe myself to others, is that I’m a ____________.
6) I would continue being a _____________ even in the face of severe obstacles.
7) I know that being a ___________ will always be part of my life.
8) ____________ is always in my mind in some way.
9) Even when not doing ____________I often think about ____________.
10) ________________ is a deeply moving and gratifying experience for me.
Joy looks different for everyone. It is a personal mosaic that reflects our truest sense of self. After long change seasons, find unique moments, things, and events that bring joy, and make room to feel good again.
Dobrow, S. R., & Tosti‐Kharas, J. (2011). Calling: The development of a scale measure. Personnel Psychology, 64(4), 1001–1049. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-6570.2011.01234.x