Most people are afraid that having found the perfect parking spot on a busy day at the mall directly translates to someone they know being diagnosed with a horrible illness this week. Or that having spent a day doing nothing with no distractions will cause the roof to leak. Or that a stunning business success means the car will break down within minutes of cash hitting your bank account.
Most people are absolutely terrified of joy.
Finding joy in the ocean or a lover or sunlight means you’ll have to admit that not being near the ocean or that lover or sunlight can be painful.
Further, because there’s always something to be miserable about, joy is easy for other people to bat out of our hands and shame away: don’t you know there are starving children/diseases/natural disasters/misery somewhere? HOW DARE YOU BE HAPPY!!!?
So, we pretend we don’t feel anything when we’re delighted. We tamp down our enthusiasm and get really fucking SERIOUS about joy. That means we leave delight to kids at birthday parties who are busy eating their eighth slice of Pinteresting cake after jumping in the bouncy house instead of actually feeling happy for a second ourselves.
(And we don’t enjoy the cake. We never really enjoy the cake, even if we bother to eat it.)
Brene Brown calls the part of us that looks around and waits for the other shoe to drop when we find something amazing ‘foreboding joy.’ It means we’re actively keeping one foot out of the good feelings in order to stave off the future sadness or despair that we believe is sure to follow.
Only, denying joy as it comes to us doesn’t make loss any less devastating. Depression doesn’t hold itself at bay because we’ve failed to enjoy ourselves for a whole month, and no one is handing out ‘Kept Her Smile Thin-Lipped and Didn’t Laugh’ awards.
Related! Listen to Joy 101: why I dress like a four-year-old for a deeper dive into the first steps to reclaiming joy.
What if we gave up on foreboding joy?
What if we reveled in everything we’ve got at this moment, EVEN THOUGH there’s misery in our lives and our friends’ lives and in the lives of most members of humanity?
…and what if we made room to experience delight and wonder and the full spectrum of being alive, in particular the emotions that are the most remarkable and astonishing?
I’ve fought my way through 17 years of depression, sadness, despair, and general wallowing in feels to be able to get to where I am now. (See the bevy of articles about this topic here, here, here, here, and here.)
At this very moment, I can laugh easily, wag my bottom half at puppies, and make children giggle wherever I go. I’ve faced countless eyerolls and huffy noises from strangers because I don’t tamp the good shit down anymore. I don’t hold in laughs or hide smiles or try not to enjoy the enjoyable things in life.
In other words, I’ve earned joy.
I’ve slogged my way through internal goblins and demons and have fought tooth and nail for the full-throated laughter available to me in any given moment.
You can reclaim joy, too.
It starts with the willingness to experience it, even though someone, somewhere, isn’t happy at the moment. (And even though some part of you isn’t happy at the moment.)
All the Joy is a 1-hour breathwork class for identifying, feeling, and just plain enjoying joy.
If you’re ready to stop being afraid of the good emotions life has to offer — i.e. every single feeling that makes life worth living — it’s time to take the class. (Also if you’re ready to enjoy cake or stop batting down your own aliveness because someone, somewhere is suffering…)
I’ll ask you to lie down in a place where you feel safe, then walk you through the breathing pattern and through each step of returning to joy. If you’ve got an hour and a bed, you’re ready.
This breathwork class is $22 and is available on March 20th, 2018.
That’s comparable to the cost of a drop-in yoga class and less than a hardcover book, only you can do this class as many times as you’d like and without having to put pants on. 😉
P.S. Joy is a choice. And an act of resistance.