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  • Christine Del Negro

Joy Is Not a Luxury

“ Joy is a form of resilience.” Ingrid Fetell Lee


What brings you joy?


How often do you cultivate it in your life?


When life gets hard, it’s easy to tell ourselves that joy is a luxury we don’t have time for.


We just need to get through this stressful time, crisis, grieving period etc. and then we can make time for joy.   It may also feel disloyal if someone we love is suffering.  How can we feel joy amidst the sadness of someone we care deeply about? 


In truth, joyful moments give us the strength and resilience to get through the darker times.   


I have gone through the heartbreak of a divorce and experienced more grief over it than I ever could have imagined. 


I have sat in a hospital room more than once with my child not knowing what the outcome would be.


I have raced through New York City to get a train home in the middle of a family emergency. 


I have been given a cancer diagnosis and undergone treatment.


I have dealt with parental overwhelm and worried that I was falling short as a mother.


Those were the times that joy got me through. I didn’t dance my way through them, but I found little glimmers of joy in small moments - a good friend, a kind smile, a good cup of coffee, a funny memory, laughter.


Sometimes I sought the moments out and sometimes others brought them to me when I couldn’t do it myself. I still cried. I still doubted. I still grieved. But those moments fueled my strength and determination to get through.


And in the good times, I actively cultivate joy in my life in the same way I pay my bills or buy my groceries. It’s part of the routine because I know that it feeds my soul.


How do you cultivate joy?


These are some of the practices (and they are practices, not one and dones) that have helped me and my clients.  Choose one or more that resonate for you.   None of them will take more than a few minutes but their impact will reverberate through your day and your life.  


Gratitude

If I’m being completely honest, this is the one that can be hardest for me.  It’s also the most important one.  


Brené Brown, a world renowned author and researcher, has researched joy and gratitude for many years.  In 12 years and 11,000 pieces of data, she didn’t interview one person who experiences joy regularly without a gratitude practice.  It can look different for each person but it needs to be a constant in their life.  


You can write down 3-5 things each day that you’re grateful for and why.  You can say them out loud to yourself or a family member.  You can meditate on them.  Whatever works for you but it needs to be a regular part of your life to truly impact your level of joy.  

 

Joyful Playlist 

Music is a powerful force for joy.  Create a playlist of 3-5 songs that always make you smile.  They can be cheesy love songs, songs from your high school years or anything else that will have you humming along or dancing in your kitchen.  Listen to it regularly.  


Women with Her Nation Magzinne
Joy is a form of resilience

Schedule Joy

When we have something to look forward to, it enhances not only that experience but the rest of our life. Thinking about an upcoming event brings joy and excitement. So, schedule joy in your life each week or even each day. It can be something small like lingering over a cup of coffee in the morning buying yourself flowers for the week, or something larger like dinner and a movie with a friend or ballroom dancing classes. Sprinkling these moments throughout your week will give you something to look forward to and spark joy.


Joyful Affirmations 

Our thoughts are powerful. What we tell ourselves matters. Choose an affirmation or two that resonates with you and post it on your mirror, the fridge or someplace else you will see it every day. You can even set a reminder on your phone. When you read it, repeat it in your mind or even out loud and let it become part of your inner dialogue. 

Here are a few suggestions: I am enough. I am worthy of love and belonging. My life is abundant. I am grateful. I am surrounded by love and light.


Midday Walk

Find 5-30 minutes in the middle of your day to take a walk. You will be amazed at how it can impact your mood AND your productivity in the afternoon. If you have a job where that isn't possible, squeeze it somewhere else in your day, or at least, on your days off.  And if midday doesn’t work, find a time that does.  


Connection

We are social beings.  In today’s society it’s very easy to become isolated.  Life is busy and the day doesn’t feel long enough.  Connection brings joy.  It might be with your partner, child or friend.  It may even be with a beloved pet.  Ideally, the connection is in person but if that isn’t possible, phone calls, facetimes and texts can also help you feel emotionally connected to others.  


Even small interactions with co-workers, a barista or a neighbor can boost your mood and help you feel less alone.    If you’re dealing with a specific challenge such as divorce, addiction or illness, in person and online communities with others experiencing the same thing allow you to connect with others who are or have been where you are now.  


Stretch

I personally think stretching is one of the most underrated forms of joy.  Stretching calms the nervous system and the mind.  It helps you become more present in your body and it feels really good.  It’s much easier to feel joyful when you feel grounded and relaxed in your body.  


When I think about joy, I always think about the scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy comes out of her house in Oz and suddenly everything is in glorious color.  She still has a journey in front of her. She still has a witch to deal with.   She still needs to find her way home, but she has the beautiful yellow brick road in front of her and she’s able to sing and dance her way to Oz with the Lion, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow by her side.  


Joy isn’t a luxury. It’s the gas that powers the engine.  


So, where will you find joy today?   


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Christine Del Negro with Her Nation Magzine
Christine Del Negro | school4joy EFT

Meet the author:

Christine is a certified EFT practitioner and mindfulness coach.  She helps her clients clear the noise of limiting beliefs from their minds so that they can hear their own authentic voice and create more joy in their lives. 


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