by Julie Reisler, MA, ACC
Hint: joy could be clogged up in your thoughts. See, most of us are caught up in our cute little brains, telling us all kinds of crazy crap, much of which is on an automatic GPS based on routes from years past that doesn’t serve. Did you know that the average human has about 70,000 thoughts per day? If you’re not paying attention, those thoughts will run the show and often it’s not the show we really want to star in.
How do I know this? I used to be a serial people pleaser. My joke was that while my master’s degree was in health & wellness coaching, it could have been in crappy self- esteem, people pleasing and emotional overeating. These self-destructive thoughts robbed me big time of my joy. I allowed my inner dialogue, which used to be quite mean, run my show.
What was I really looking for? Joy and inner peace. Where was I looking for it? Everywhere, but from within. You know that saying, ‘looking for love in all the wrong places.’ I looked for joy in all the wrong places; such as boxes, bags, your fridge, my fridge, the CVS aisles, online shopping, and anything that took me out of the moment and outside of having to sit still with me.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve realized I’m acting from thoughts around a past story that is usually unkind and untrue. Those stories rob you of your joy. Case in point; my favorite pastime hobby from age 5 – 15 was dancing. I was that cute, somewhat pudgy girl with a big-ass grin shimmying in the middle of the stage having the time of my life. I felt on top of the world dancing until I was told at age 15 that I was too big, too heavy, too tall and not built like a dancer. Guess who stopped dancing for 20 years after that remark? It wasn’t until I was mining through old stories realizing that I missed doing dance moves such as kick ball change and pirouettes, because I let a passing comment from my teacher stop me dead in my dancing tracks. I had stopped one of the things that gave me the most joy in my life because of someone else.
The answer to my missing joy riddle: I signed my butt up for (in) every dance class I could find in my local dance studio – everything from African dance, modern, jazz, ballet, hip hop, belly dancing, capoeira and even Broadway jazz (talk about bringing back the kick ball change). Ironically, I later became a certified Barre and group dance & fitness instructor, just for fun and inner joy.
The lessons I learned from this story in particular have changed the trajectory of my life and I’m here to share a few take-aways that I hope will add immense joy to yours. Whether you were told a negative story you believed or somewhere along the journey forgot that joy is of the utmost importance, I urge you to take the time to reconnect with that natural joy we are all born to express and find a way to get your butt back into the joy game.
Finding Joy in All The Right Places:
- Become a Researcher of the Anti-Joy Thoughts. Here’s the real deal. You are going to have to first start with the anti-joy map you have in place, i.e. the thoughts you are saying to yourself that might be getting in your joyful way. I invite you to invest in a small notebook or download an app to take notes. Record what you are saying to yourself that isn’t kind. Once you have a running list of the mean sh$& you are saying to your self, start ways of reframing these thoughts and beliefs.*Note, slapping words together for an affirmation won’t increase your joy. You need to find things you genuinely appreciate about you, right now.
- This brings us to… The Joy Treasure Hunt. Begin your journey of searching for what brought you joy when you were 8 or 12. What was it that you loved to do and could do for hours? Are you doing any of that now? Oftentimes these activities are great clues as to what gives you deep inner joy. Make a list and rate what brings you the most joy, using the 1 – 10 scale (1 being lil’ bits of joy to 10 being tidal wave joy). Next to the activity, write down how that made you feel. By doing this, you are reconnecting to the experience and emotion.
- X Marks the Joy Spot. Now that you have a list of things that bring you unadulterated joy and high flying emotions (not just the x rated stuff), it’s time to get into action around how and when you’ll add these activities to your life. For me, one of the things I loved to do was taking a spatula outside and pretending it was a microphone that I would be using to interview my ‘guests’ about their life story on my talk show. I find crazy, odd joy in hearing others’ stories of transformation. It took me two decades to get back to this joy. In addition to coaching, I am now working on a new podcast where I’ll get to interview guests all day long about their life stories. Don’t wait that long. Start today by looking at what brought you unleashed joy and look to see where and how you can add that to your life now.
- Set Your New Joy GPS. Good work on reconnecting to what brings you joy. Warning: this process will change your life to be more joyful. Now it’s time to reset your Joy GPS. As we know, changing habits (your negative thoughts and beliefs are just stale habits) take anywhere from 20 – 120 days. I’d highly recommend starting a morning routine to keep you in the practice of beginning each day with joy. An awesome book to help you with your routine is The Miracle Morning, by Hal Elrod. Both a personal friend and mentor, Hal is a guy who has dealt with serious life challenges, yet still has an unreal amount of joy. His book has a lot to say on finding joy through your miracle morning routine. Spend time each morning getting quiet, meditating and affirming that as a divine being, you are deserving of as much joy as possible.
- Smooth Joy Sailing. You are on your way to wayyy more joy. Reminder: your beliefs and icky old thoughts didn’t happen over night. Be patient and kind to yourself as you change your inner dialogue and reconnect to what brings you true happiness and joy. While it is about changing your thoughts, which will shift your beliefs…it’s also about getting into action, experiencing life from a new joy lens and doing the things that make you feel alive, radiant and grateful to be present on the planet. You are wired for greatness and happiness. Remember, you can’t give away what you don’t have. By bringing more joy to your life, you will be doing us all a service by being able to spread that much more joy to the world around you. And that, my joyful friend, is a gift in itself.Lastly, please remember that while not all of life can (is supposed to) be joyful all the time, you are wired for some serious joy and happiness. If there’s any way I can support you on your joy journey, please don’t hesitate to connect with me. I am with you and fully believe in your ability to raise your joy quotient. Here’s to your most joyful day yet!
Julie Reisler is the founder and CEO of Empowered Living, a Life Design and personal development company. Author of Get a PhD in YOU: A Course in Miraculous Self-Discovery, Julie authentically shares the extensive personal-growth wisdom that came from her own struggles with body image, relationships, and feeling “not enough.” Julie is also a sought after meditation teacher on the popular app Insight Timer and creator of the audio and online course, Hungry For More: Recovery From Food Addiction. As a multi-time TEDx speaker, coach, facilitator, author and faculty member at Georgetown University, Julie is enamored & obsessed with helping you to master your inner world so you can master your outer world. She is a mama of two, step-mama of one, happily remarried, and in love with her very imperfect life. For more info on Julie, go to juliereisler.com
Julie Reisler of the You-est You Podcast. Photo courtesy of Ms. Reisler.