7 Practices And Beliefs That Lead To More Joy.
Friends, I am NOT a joy expert BUT, I’ve become pretty damn good at recognising the practices, beliefs and tools in my own life that help me to cultivate more joy, and I’ve got a few common denominators. I wanted to share them with you because it’s necessary to live in a state of joy if you’re on a mission to live out your destiny (which I am, and I know you are too). No biggie.
First up, I want to state something pretty obvious; yes, joy lives in big moments of achievement and fun and adventure (obviously) and it also lives in the small, seemingly unimportant moments. The trick with those moments is that we need to be cognisant and sensitive to our own energetic, physical and emotional bodies to see and experience those in their entirety. We need to be self aware and present enough to acutely notice the many shapes and guises joy comes in.
Rupi Kaur said something beautiful that makes me want to show up bigger, better and more full of joy every single day, and has basically become my personal M.O.;
“Our work should equip the next generation of women to outdo us in every field - this is the legacy we’ll leave behind”.
I think about my daughters and I consider the legacy I want to leave behind for them - creativity, exploration, play, presence, self awareness. And it’s interesting because all of those things (for me) add up to equal joy and I DEFINITELY WANT MY DAUGHTERS TO OUTDO MY JOY - what a freakin' legacy to leave behind for them. Yep, that’s right - I want to leave a legacy of joy for the next generation of women. How about you?
Ok. The standard pre-blog post disclaimer (have you come to expect it yet!?): I am not your cheerleader. I am not here to tell you that you’re doing a great job, and I’m not here to increase your comfort or fluff your pillow. I am not here to guide you towards something elusive or external or to state that joy is easily accessible and simple (I don’t believe that for a second). Do I believe joy is a choice? Absolutely. Is it always easy to make that choice? No fucking way. I am here to send you back home to yourself so you (and I) do the work necessary to make more space for joy, and that doesn’t always look like gentle encouragement, passive language, pats on the back, celebratory hugs and #selfcaresunday. K? K. Let’s do this.
STOP LOOKING FOR A COACH TO SHOW YOU THE WAY.
Oh man, in this time of the personal-development-obsessed millennial (me being one of them), we have somehow received the message (which I do NOT believe is the intention) that our happiness, success, love, joy and financial freedom lives deep inside a coaching session, program or podcast. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve totally been down this rabbit hole (more times than I care to admit), but the truth of it is that during these times, I was filled with guilt and shame for not knowing, doing or being MORE. I also felt “bad” any time I had a spare moment and I didn’t choose to fill it with learning material. I just kept syphoning away my personal power and ignoring my in-built GPS system (my intuition) when it was telling me to rest, to be in silence, to quiet my thoughts and TUNE IN TO ME because I thought I needed to be a good student of life and plug into someone else’s wisdom. My power was being misplaced on a quick how-to program, podcast or coach, and I expected it to be my non-stop flight to the destination of my choosing. “If I just do what they say, I’ll be successful, then I’ll be happy” could’ve been my personal M.O. for about 3 years straight.
To be clear, I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with seeking support through programs (um, hello - I have one - Genesis!) or through personal coaching of some description. What I do have a problem with however, is the incessant need of such programs and coaches to give out ‘hacks”, ‘how-to’s’ and ‘fix-its”.
Unless you’re a qualified professional, hired to support someone in need, the job of coaches and programs is not to get on your court, jump in front of you and hit back the volleys intended for you (metaphorically speaking) - they are to guide you back home to YOURSELF. That is, to guide you to cultivate the skills, traits, understanding and perspective necessary to evolve.Allowing someone to show you the way home to your own heart, work, purpose and creativity is beautiful. When YOU are the one in the arena - implementing, trying, developing, experiencing and pulling your whole self together as a unified being - you are doing the thing.
Similarly, tuning in to someone else’s Instagram first thing in the morning is the epitome of unconscious living. Tuning in to someone else’s life before your own (not including our tiny bubs) is a huge disservice to your joy and forward movement. Your joy doesn’t live in scrolling, or quick hacks, or being told what to do, or ignoring your intuition or looking at what everyone else is doing. NO! Stop doing it, girl! Tune into YOU before tuning in to anyone else. Seriously, take a moment to tune into your own energy, what is being asked of you (by your intuition) today, what your intention is for the day, the one step you’re taking towards a goal today - whatever, just tune in!
Tara Bliss says it beautifully,
“create before you consume”.
That is, create for yourself before you consume from others.
One such task that I perform every morning (unless it is encroached upon by two small maniacs - Riley & Billie Crowhen) is to close my eyes, and picture (vividly) the future I want to create for myself. This automatically gets me into the energy and intention that is required to grow into that woman I am becoming.
Where are you looking externally before going inward?
What do you create before you consume? (or vice versa)
How is your creation and consumption time balanced (or unbalanced)?
Where are you syphoning away your power to programs, podcasts, coaches, or external sources? (i.e. the ones giving you hacks and quick fixes)
Are you listening to your internal GPS or ignoring it/suppressing it?
2. KNOW YOURSELF BETTER.
Knowing how you operate (independent of what is easy to digest and acceptable by society) is the key to living more freely. Do you have any idea how liberated I felt when I realised that too much socialising drained me, and that I was not fundamentally flawed or unsociable because of this, even though I am “great” at connecting? It is part of my human design to be both great at connecting and also needing more alone time than I've ever allowed myself to believe is acceptable, and knowing this about myself helped me make more informed and attuned decisions, and thus, means that I no longer give out my energy without careful consideration (which means less distancing myself from joy). One social event per week is my absolute max - inclusive of coffee dates, birthday parties, beach hangouts, girls nights and family events. If I’m invited to more than one, I make a choice.
This is just one small example of knowing myself. Is it acceptable in society to decline “important” events and invitations (even to decline family)? No. Is it acceptable in society to take care of myself first (even before my loved ones)? No. Should I allow that to stop me from living in alignment of my own unique human design? Absolutely not.
Here are some other things I won’t do because it just doesn’t feel good:
Answer the phone when someone calls out of the blue
Answer the door if someone pops around unannounced (yes, really. Or, I will explain that it's not a good time and I prefer to be prepared)
Go to every company event even when I’m told it’s necessary for a thriving business
Say yes to every invitation that seems like a good “opportunity”
Get back to people straight away if I haven't got scheduled time to do so
These are just some examples of how knowing myself allows me to stay in alignment with my true self (hello joy!). What’s on your list?
Where are you ignoring your innate preferences to make your life more palatable to others? (where are you doing what others expect, because it’s easier than standing in your truth, and being ridiculed for it)
What do you know is a fundamental truth about yourself? Do you ignore it or embrace it?
Which personal actions bring you closer to joy?
Which personal actions take you further away from joy?
I’m not kidding. My ability to create (something … anything!) is so fundamental to my happiness. In fact, this is the truth for pretty much everyone. Don’t just take my word for it, psychologists have now come to a similar conclusion too. According to a recent study out of New Zealand, engaging in creative activities contributes to an “upward spiral” of positive emotions, psychological wellbeing and feelings of “flourishing” in life. Head over here to download my free 27-page eBook on unleashing your voice, creativity and projects for more insight.
This isn’t just good news for people who work in creative fields (oh heeyyyy). Anyone who finds time for creative hobbies and side projects like writing in a journal, sketching, crafting or playing the ukulele is likely to experience the same effect. And remember, creativity doesn’t always look like artistic flare - it can look like, making up a game for your kids, nailing a yummy picnic for the fam, the way you decorate your guest room, or how you flavour your dinner.
For the study, which was published Nov. 17 in the Journal of Positive Psychology, 658 volunteers were asked to keep a diary for 13 days, rating how creative they had been over the course of the day and describing their overall mood. Creativity was defined as coming up with new ideas, expressing oneself in an original way or spending time engaged in artistic pursuits. Each day, the participants also rated how much they felt they were “flourishing” ― which the researchers define as experiencing positive personal growth ― by assessing things like how engaged they felt in their daily activities and how rewarding their social interactions were.
A clear pattern emerged in the diary entries. Immediately after the days participants were more creative, they said they felt more enthusiastic and energised ― in other words, they were flourishing.
“This finding suggests a particular kind of upward spiral for wellbeing and creativity,” Dr. Tamlin Conner, a psychologist at New Zealand’s University of Otago and the study’s lead author, stated in a press release. “Engaging in creative behaviour leads to increases in wellbeing the next day, and this increased wellbeing is likely to facilitate creative activity on the same day.”
Creating and expressing ourselves gives us a sense of purpose, according to Tony Wagner, a senior research fellow at Harvard and author of Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World. Creativity can also help lower stress and anxiety, enhance resilience and contribute to a sense of playfulness and curiosity. Engaging in creative activities and art-based therapies has also been linked to improved physical and mental health.
But if you don’t consider yourself an “artist,” don’t worry. You don’t have to have any particular creative talents to benefit from creative activity. Anything from experimenting with a new dinner recipe to creating a mood board on Pinterest can give you that creative boost.
Creating for enjoyment (and not to get to an end destination) is joy personified.
What do you create?
Do you specifically carve out time for it? Do you see it as being necessary to your happiness? Or are you of the belief that you are not creative? (HINT: wherever you fall on that spectrum, please read my eBook over here).
RECOGNISE, WITNESS & SEE OTHERS.
Ok. This is a biggie, but I’ll keep it short because I’ll know we all understand this logically. Recognising others is the simplest way to shortcut your way to joy (and this may be the only time I’m on board a shortcut).
Recognising others for their strengths, resilience, vulnerability, honesty, courage and kindness will instantly raise your personal vibration (always). Do more of that, girl!
To be honest, I’ve actually had to work really hard on this. Somewhere along the line, I learned that celebrating others just inflated their ego and patted them on the back for “just doing their job”. I know, it’s morbid AF. So, I’ve worked on embedding this skill into my DNA and am now the proud owner of a healthy internal recognition program. I probably won’t recognise you for all the normal things, but I will most definitely see you do the small things that are hard - the times you’ve overcome fear (or maybe you’ve even done it with fear), the times you launched the project or tried something new (even if you failed), vulnerably melted in my arms (usually via skype), or got through a tough parenting day. I’ll see you and recognise you for doing the seemingly mundane, and I’ll love the heck out of you for it.
To round out this topic, I want to talk about witnessing. This is a concept I learned from Tara Bliss (yep, her again - she’s marvellous) and this is all about being the observer for others whilst they share their truth.
The key point to this is to witness WITHOUT needing to project or inject ourselves into their story. We’ve all been through something hard and have told someone we love about it, and then 10 minutes down the track we realise we’re actually talking about their hard thing , or they're comparing their own experience ("well my situation is wayyyy worse, because ...")- it feels awful!
To witness someone is to truly see someone in their vulnerability and to just hold them. To say, “I see you, and I’m feeling this with you” is such a gift. To be this for someone else - for someone’s vulnerability to be safe with you - is such a gift.
Do you inject or project when someone tells you their story?
Do you listen without needing to form an answer?
Do you receive their words without needing to coach or find a solution?
Can you hold a safe space for someone to share without interruption or judgement?
Do you have someone you can share openly with and be truly witnessed?
NATURE, EXPLORATION & PLAY
I read a book a while ago called Last Child In The Woods and it talks about the fundamental need for children to explore, play and be in nature in order to develop completely into the human they’re meant to become. Powerful right? Well, I believe we are the same as adults. I know how I feel when I’m inside all day, or if I haven’t laughed and played freely, or if I haven’t explored something new or given myself time to follow my curiosity (before jumping in with a schedule or an alarm for the next task).
Creating time to play every single day is so necessary - but geez, it’s hard. I get it. We’re all busy adulting - working, parenting, organising, personally developing, spiritualisationing (not a word, I know) cleaning and washing. I hear ya loud and clear, sister.
Play is defined as time spent without purpose. Literally zero purpose. All the Type A’s are coming out of the closet right now, like “whhhhattttt on earth is this sorcery!?” (I know guys, it’s weird).
Yep, it’s weird. And essential to joy. Play, exploration and nature are basically like a big breath out for your nervous system. It’s rejuvenating, light, fresh and recharging and totally necessary if you want to enjoy life.
I know it’s hard to fit something so seemingly unnecessary into your day, but let me tell you something: it is so necessary. A few weeks ago, Rory and I went out for our first date night in about 10 months, and after wrapping up everything at the restaurant after about 60 minutes, we decided to go for a scroll. Upon or exploration, we found 2 solar powered scooters that the city has scattered around for those that work in the city, so we hopped on and scooted around playgrounds, parks, restaurants (with a quick stop-off at our favourite ice cream place) and the late night shopping strip. Cup full.
I won’t stay long to talk about nature, but quite simply - mother nature has the capacity to nourish you in any way you need. She can hold you when you’re hurting, she can ground you when you’re overwhelmed or in fear, she can recharge you when you’re low, or refresh you when your body wants to shut down. I mean, have you ever been for an ocean swim when times are tough? Nature is medicine.
How do you have fun?
How do you play?
It goes without saying, right? A lack of presence is distraction at it’s finest and when we’re distracted, life is not sweet and joyful and awesome. We know this, don’t we? And yet, presence seems to be one of the most challenging things in the world for some. In fact, as I type this, you might be horrified to know that I’m in my kitchen with my laptop on my bench top, while dinner cooks and I’m unpacking the groceries (I'm a work in progress). A lack of presence is either living in the future or the past (in this case, a self-proposed deadline for this blog post).
I tend to live in the future - imagining, planning, creating in my mind with my eyes open while I’m doing something else. Some would say I’m a daydreamer (I know I’m not alone - are you a daydreamer too?). And the not-so-enjoyable downside of that, is that I’m often in a state of prediction - making elaborate predictions based purely on fear or excitement (“if that happens, then THAT will happen, and then THIS will happen - AAAARRRGGGHHH!”). Basically, it’s a slippery slope to predict. On the flip side of fear-based future predictions, are fear(or excitement)-based beliefs/decision from the past (“remember when THAT happened, and I felt like THAT? Well, I want to avoid that happening ever again, so I will avoid any possibility of it” or “it’s not possible to do X, because I’ve never been able to do it before, soooo …. I just won’t try again", or "remember how good it was when I did X, I'm going to do the same thing and expect the exact same result!?). Once again, a slippery slope.
We are all conditioned from our past experiences, how we were raised, epigenetics, and a million other things. And as such, the way we show up moment by moment is usually one great culmination of these influences. Unless of course, we unlearn our programming and start living from authenticity, presence, OUR truth (not the truth we’ve been taught or have learned through experiences) and the recognition that the only state of being that allows us to live in presence is one of impermanence, so to have one way of being is utterly preposterous. I consider presence to be here. To be here in every moment, and to offer ourselves to every experience on a moment by moment basis. To offer ourselves in this way is to be truly present.
I’m still learning this art, and my futuristic, big picture thinkin’, excitable brain is having a hard time with transition. BUT, the lure of presence is that when I catch small glimpses of it - those moments of unfiltered rapture - it’s like a drug. The highest high of pure elation and joy, and that is enough to keep me coming back for more.
If you’ve read my free 27-page eBook Genesis: express your voice, unleash your creativity & birth your projects you’ll also know that presence is one of the key determining factors for creativity and originality, and THAT is pretty damn appealing too.
Do you tend to live more in the future or the past?
How does distraction show up for you?
What are the futuristic predictions or past fears that stop you going all in now?
Which moments are you the least present in?
What are the wins you experience when you are fully present (even if those moments are fleeting)?
STOP TRYING TO MOVE MATTER WITH MATTER.
This one feels a little more abstract to explain, but I’m going to give it a shot. If it flies over your head, know that it is most likely my explanation and not your receptivity or interest.
We live in this world of form, or, this world of matter. Our emotional, energetic and spiritual bodies take form as physical beings moving around in a physical world. Typically, we try to change the way we feel about our lives by changing the way our physical being does things. That is, we’re trying to change matter with matter. As the saying goes,
‘you can’t solve a problem with the same level of consciousness that created it”
(I think that was Einstein’s masterpiece). Which is to say, if you are trying to change your experience of life by simply forcing yourself to work harder/more, move cities, push yourself, cut friends out, stop answering your phone, or whatever it is your do, in order to remove a problem - it won’t work. What I’m saying is that your problems will remain if nothing in your internal landscape shifts. It’s how you feel about the things in your life, rather than the actual things in your life.
If the only thing that shifts is your external world, then only your external world will look different (your feelings - your internal world - will remain the same).
Matter is not the only thing that exists - we are more mystical than any of us can even understand, even when we learn about quantum physics or the spiritual laws of success (think: the law of attraction on a magnified scale), or something cerebral and esoteric. All of these concepts have been proven time and time again, but as a society, we struggle to accept their legitimacy because to us, it is ‘unknown’, and we are taught to repel and reject the unknown. The known is safe, makes sense and is practical - we know what to do with that. Ugh. BUT ... the known is also total balls, friends. It’s the epitome of pushing shit uphill. We need to go beyond this realm of form if we want to live in a way we haven’t lived before - more joy, more love, more play, more abundance, more success.
It’s a simple phrase but it’s true;
“if you want something you’ve never had, you’ll have to do something you’ve never done”.
Where are you trying to shift matter with matter?
Where are you shifting your external world without shifting your internal world?
Where are you leaving in the known without considering how you feel about it (taking the known as truth without questioning it)?
Where are you not willing to go into the unknown because you are scared about who it upsets or offends along the way?
If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that simply knowing these things is not enough. Implementing them and allowing them to take up residency in your being (that is, becoming someone new, consistently) is absolutely essential to living a life in joy, purpose and fulfilment. I am not about having, doing and being the things that society would tell me are the measuring sticks for success. I’m about feeling the essence of joy in my body for at least one, all-encompassing, engulfing moment every day, and then working to maintain that energy for as long as possible. Sometimes it’s a fleeting moment, sometimes it’s days at a time, sometimes it’s not at all. Regardless, I’m so committed to experiencing and leaving a legacy of joy. How about you?
All my love,