The following is from Michele Rosenthal, author of “Before The World Intruded: Conquering The Past And Creating The Future”
There was a time in my life I didn’t believe I’d ever feel joy again. A horrible illness had befallen me and while I survived it, the rosy glow of joy seemed to have been snuffed out. Perhaps you, too, have known a moment of despair that seemed so heavy even Hercules couldn’t lift it. Years went by while I felt like that. Then, I decided to do something about it; I decided to actively conquer the past and create the future. The first step: I needed to feel something really, really good! More than that, I decided I needed to feel joy.
Technically, we define ‘joy’ as a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. I think that’s an understatement. Joy, I believe, is a feeling so exquisite you can barely contain yourself, so deep within you it seems to have an unending source, and so connected to the present moment the rest of the world (and time) falls away.
Let yourself dream ~ Bringing joy into your life begins with the hope that you will feel it. Spend some time imagining what joy would feel like, how you would experience it, and how it would rock your world. Your brain looks for proof of what you tell it. Begin telling it about joy and it will begin looking for it.
Give yourself permission ~ It’s very easy to put off the experience of joy. Your world is busy, your mind may be cluttered; there are a ton of things to do. That’s all true. It’s also true that the longer you deny yourself joy the longer it will be before you feel it. Practice giving yourself permission to have it now and see how much more effectively and efficiently you operate in all areas of your life.
Do something creative ~ Expressing your vision and who you are feels good. Whether you like to write, paint, sing, sculpt, crochet or any other activity that conjures something out of thin air, developing a skill that applies your imagination can access a well of pleasure in who you are and make you feel incredible delight.
Do something you used to love as a child ~ Your core personality develops by the time you’re seven. The things that brought you delight back then can still bring you pleasure today. As an adult you may have lost touch with them. Think back to what used to bring you happiness at the age of five, or eight or ten. Then, go experience that all over again.
Stimulate yourself mentally ~ It’s going to be hard to feel anything with your mind as a blank screen. Your mental participation is part of what creates your experience of joy. Read, talk, research, do puzzles — there are a slew of ways to wake up your mind. Engage in as many as possible so that your brain remains active and nimble enough to sense and enlarge joy when it appears.
Do something incredibly helpful for someone else ~ One of the most joyful actions you can take is to make someone else feel joy. Bringing pleasure to another and witnessing their joy can have a wonderful boomerang effect on you.
Free yourself from negative beliefs ~ If you’re the kind of person who sees every glass as half empty and the world as a dark, disastrous place, here’s a heads up for you: Your beliefs create your world. It’s time to identify your negative beliefs, exchange them for more positive beliefs, and start creating the world in which you wish to live. At the end of the day, you and you alone are responsible for bringing joy into your life. It begins with your attitude and perspective.
Look around your wondrous world. Notice the colors of the flowers, the sky and the trees. Listen to the sounds of traffic, crickets, and people laughing. Accessing joy is as easy as a simple meditation on the things you love. Choose one thing, focus on it, allow it to become the only thing that exists in this moment. Notice how that feeling of joy creeps up on and then envelops you.
By Michele Rosenthal is a trauma survivor who struggled with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for over 25 years. Today, Michele joyfully lives 100% free of PTSD symptoms. Michele is a mental health advocate, public speaker, award-winning blogger, writer, workshop/seminar leader and Post-Trauma Identity Coach.
Let ‘joy’ in..I feel heartbroken. When I feel like this, I seem to fall into a pattern. I feel cold and I want to take a bath, I want to eat comforting foods in large proportions, I want a blanket to snuggle up in, maybe I’ll watch a movie that cheers me up, or maybe crawl into bed and attempt to sleep away my sadness.
A large part of my life (the majority) I have felt sad. After watching the movie ‘Inside Out’ I guess it would be true to say my dominant emotion developed in childhood is sadness or depression .. and not much gets done on sad days..
But what if I change my pattern. When I’m heartbroken or sad, what if I do things differently.. what if I get up and clean my house, walk my dog, put beautiful calming or re-energizing music on my ipod, what if I choose to react differently and to change my life long pattern (my programme..)
Being hurt is part of life. People will hurt me.. intentionally or not, I cannot avoid that, but I can change my reaction. I can be sad but I don’t have to drown.. or let it sink me.
I believe we are programmed from childhood (see movie ‘inside Out’) and those of us with too many sad, traumatic or painful early childhood memories lose the ability to manage our emotions well, restore our equilibrium and find the positivity in life and the joy in things.. We lose our balance and we are triggered again and again towards those old feelings of sadness.
Low level sadness becomes our normal..
In adult hood we have to ‘change our programming’ and actively let positivity and joy into our life.
So I’m going to fight the overwhelming urge to eat and sleep. It’s not working for me and as much as I know it’s not my fault that I behave this way, it’s not making my life better or easier.
I know I want more and I know I deserve a better life. I’m going to get up and seek something healthier and joyful. A friend, a park, a beach, a walk, a drive, clean the windows, wash the linen, get in the garden.. something active instead of passive..
I’ve got a little metal sculpture of a woman with her arms outstretched standing at the top of a pinnacle. I’m going to put it next to my bed as a reminder to change my programme and to choose something healthier…
Something has to change..
And it’s my visual reminder to change my programme.
Love & baby steps,