Have you felt stuck in a routine or rut that has not brought the fulfillment you desire? It can be easy to find yourself living for the weekend, the next payday, the next month, or the next milestone. Just to realize that getting to these moments lacks the joy or excitement you hoped would be lurking around the corner.
This cycle can keep us feeling stuck or even discontent with the lives we are working so hard for. The question is, how do we stop the cycle?
“Joy seems to me a step beyond happiness. Happiness is a sort of atmosphere you can live in sometimes when you’re lucky. Joy is a light that fills you with hope and faith and love”.
-Adela Rogers St. Johns
What Am I Doing?
Let’s first look at what you feel you’re chasing. Is it a feeling? A goal? An idea? A different set of circumstances? – Each of us has a unique set of driving forces that cause us to seek or search for gratification or security. Often times in hopes that happiness or satisfaction follows.
This often leads us to feeling disappointed and unsatisfied however, due to the nature of seeking instant gratification in place of true joy or pleasure.
Not to fear though. This is not only common, it’s reversible with a simple mindset shift.
First identify what you feel you are currently chasing. Then identify what you would prefer to follow after. Is there something greater, more attainable, or more meaningful hiding behind the quick fix desire?
Around many corners, many find themselves seeking a state of joy and pleasure that transcends past any one milestone. Instead the chase is for a state of being that is full of gratitude, excitement, security, trust, and JOY.
Where is the Joy & Why Can’t I Feel it?
What a great question to be asking: How can I FEEL more joy?
Step one is to believe the feeling is real and that YOU are capable of feeling it. Even if the state of childlike joy feels like a distant memory, try to think of an early childhood memory that feels simple, easy, and filled with pleasure. With this memory: what do you hear? What is around you? Who is there? What does it look like? Why does this memory stick out among the rest?
Therein lies a state of joy. A childlike faith and subconscious adult gratitude for a memory YOU lived and created.
Joy is strung together in small moments of simplicity, gratitude, and admiration for what you already HAVE, not what you are chasing. It is an attitude of appreciation and awareness for what the world has already put in front of you. When we begin piecing together what we already have, it provides us motivation and determination for the future. It does not mean you have lost sight of your future goals or making it to the weekend after a long week. It simply means you are also content with this very moment.
Will it Stay Forever?
Something important to remember about joy is that it takes constant intentionality, but it is not a constant. We cannot feel joy constantly, just as we cannot feel pleasure constantly. The inverse of this is true for feelings of grief, sadness or anger. They are also states of being, however they are not a constant. We ebb and flow out of every experience both physical and mental.
We may have moments of excitement, happiness, or pleasure – these are experiences. Joy is a state of being. Joy is tying those big experiences together, with the smaller moments of gratitude and taking a step back to look at the picture.
Do you like what you see?
Why Joy Can Be Hard to Feel.
Joy is a vulnerable experience. To have joy is to risk losing it. Have you heard the saying “anything worth having is worth fighting for”? Joy is kind of like that. Sometimes the fear of disappointment or associated pain, can keep us from fighting for joy.
This is a valid and often realistic fear, unique to everyone’s past experiences. It can take time to trust that feeling joy again is safe and that it is not threatening. Allow yourself the time to recover from why cultivating joy may be challenging.
Start with stringing together the small moments of gratitude in your day. Find something worth waking up to, and identify something that made the day worth experiencing.
Joy is waiting for you.