Finding Joy (and what if you can't find it)Jun 02, 2022
Last week, I had you go down memory lane and find a memory that elicits pure joy.
But what if you can’t find it?
I learned that many of you have immediate access to it, which is amazing.
Then there were many of you who needed the entire week to move that joy from your head to your body. You got there.
And then there are some of you who just couldn’t.
I belonged to the third group once upon a time.
Here’s what I know: you’ll tap into it when you’re ready. We all have our own time frame.
THE TIME MACHINE
Memory is fascinating. I’ve learned that you can change a memory of anything in the past. Just adding one new element into the memory you’ve been replaying in the very same way for all these years can shift how you experience that memory.
I have a sister who is 3 years younger than me, and by the way we talk about the very same events in our lives, you’d think we were talking about two completely different families. Which says the event itself isn’t absolute in its quality; rather the quality relies on the participant.
I was depressed throughout my childhood and young adult years, stemming from my very own personal and unique early childhood traumas. Naturally, I habitualized a way of perceiving every experience through a sense of self that my early experiences gave me, and it colored how I translated others’ behaviors towards me and what I thought of them. It colored my world view. This was not my fault. It was no one’s fault. But with this understanding, I started to make it a practice to recall any story from my past with the caveat: “it’s how I experienced it at the time.” Now, I often tell my story differently because my story has changed.
EXERCISE IN TIME TRAVEL
I was given a powerful practice where I’d imagine my dad, for instance, younger than me at the time, doing the best he could under his personal circumstances, traumas, culture, and conditioning. I’d imagine what it was like to be him loving me through his insecurities while trying to provide for his family with the amount of energy he had available to him at any given time. It was like going back in time and shifting the experiences of my small self, which in turn brought healing and lighter experiences to me today.
There are a wide range of traumas, each having their own process. I’m not dismissing accountability, though what this word means is a whole other topic. What I am saying is, for your own sake, you can decide to change your story. When you do, not only will you find joy in the many places in your past where you didn’t think you could, you’ll be able to open yourself to joy moving forward.
JOY ISN’T A POLLYANNAISH STATE OF MIND
Joy does NOT mean you’re jumping up and down feeling bubbly and telling yourself you’re not feeling any pain. Joy comes from a very grounded place, and it exists even when you’re experiencing sadness due to a loss of something or someone very important to you.
It means you’re present enough to be so engrossed in the moment such that your experience of time changes. Pure joy allows you to get unstuck from the worry that traps you in perfectionism or procrastination and move forward with curiosity and a sense of challenge and ability. It allows you to harness anger, take on the irritating monkey wrenches, and let the tears flow when you’re deeply sad. It lets you see the remarkable gifts of what you lost (or are afraid of losing) in the first place. In the end, it allows you to see what you've gained.
So many things hold so much value to you. That you value is precious. It’s immensely joyful. It means you have a sense of Self. Hold it high.