We’ve all heard some version of the quote “What you focus on expands”. With that quote in mind three years ago I started the Joy Challenge, where I encouraged readers to look for the word Joy throughout their day to focus on the fun of the holiday season instead of the stress that so often takes over. It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since my first post on Joy that originally planted the seed for the challenge.
Repost from 12/21/13
There is a commercial on TV that shows clips of children opening presents. Clip after clip of that moment of pure joy and excitement when the child recognizes what is under the wrapping. I can’t help but smile when I see it because there is nothing like the feeling of watching your child, or anyone, open a gift that you’ve picked out and see their excitement. There is an innocence in the moment. No feelings or emotions are held back. The pure joy of the moment is contagious, it’s palpable. There is a physical reaction that you feel inside of you.
This time of year, we see “joy” literally everywhere we turn – on Christmas cards, in store windows, advertisements and ornaments. In songs we sing “Joy to the World”, “Repeat the sounding joy” and “Tidings of comfort and joy”. The word joy is unavoidable in the month of December, but are we paying attention?
Can you remember the last time you felt joy? When there is a to-do list a mile long, is there time to relax enough to experience joy. And sometimes when we are faced with a joyful moment, we often hold back or resist feeling joy. We’re skeptical. We think that if things are good now something bad must be around the corner. It’s as if we try to prepare ourselves for the disappointment.
Author Brene’ Brown calls this “foreboding joy” - when we immediately follow up a joyful feeling or emotion with the feeling that something bad is going to happen. We attempt to “dress-rehearse the tragedy” as if by expecting it, the hurt of the tragedy will be lessened. What she’s found through her research is that the dress rehearsal does not take away, or lessen, the emotion when something bad does actually happen. The only thing that happens is that you’ve missed out on the full experience of the joyful event. She goes on to say that the difference she found when interviewing joyful people is that “instead of dress rehearsing the tragedy, they practice gratitude.” By reminding themselves of all that they have to be grateful for, they are able to fully enJOY the moment.
What brings you joy? Have you experienced it in the last day? Week? Month? If not, why not? You have many opportunities to feel joy throughout the week; embrace them and appreciate them. Children experience joyful moments every day because they are open to them. See the world through their eyes and experience again how powerful joy can feel.
Don’t miss a post – sign up to receive the blog in your inbox every week. Scroll to the top of the page and you’ll see a box to enter your email in the upper right side of the page.
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.