Do you take courses, listen or watch online programs and buy self-help books and still feel like you are struggling to live these years as you had always hoped?
Several months ago I began working with a woman in her mid-fifties I’ll call Veronica. She juggles a powerful job advocating for disadvantaged underserved communities, with caring for her learning challenged teenage children and helping her family of origin through transitions.
Over the years she’s taken many courses, programs, read the self-help books, yet when it comes to her own self-care she simply cannot find the time—at least not with any consistency.
Does this sound familiar?
Veronica was empowered at her work, caring for her children and managing the affairs of her family yet she was constantly running on empty. Veronica felt fulfilled in many ways but joy had eluded her for much of her life.
Have you ever felt like you’re living a life rich in meaning—but that joy is lacking?
I have great news for you. There’s plenty that you can do to infuse your life with pleasure and opportunities to savor the sweetness in life on a daily basis!
Your thoughts exert tremendous power over your mind and body. One of the first skills to develop to establish greater joy is the awareness of what goes on in your brain.
How do you get triggered? How do you respond internally? What thoughts continue to cycle through your mind day in and day out?
Tuning in and watching the parade of inner dialogue teaches us so much about ourselves. The next step is learning how to shift these thoughts and to focus on as Dr. Rick Hanson talks about, “Taking in the Good.” This is about making the decision to build the “muscle” in your brain that’s responsible for recalling (and creating!) positive experiences and then taking it in deeply into the recesses of mind and body.
Savoring positive experiences is a daily practice that can help shift the way you perceive life events. And you only need to practice this 10-30 seconds once or twice daily to start deriving the benefits.
Once Veronica learned how to pay attention to her thoughts and feelings, she realized that she didn’t have to be a slave to her work and responsibilities. She started taking mini, sometimes micro-breaks out of the course her day to reflect or DO something positive even if only for a few minutes.
Veronica not only found greater feelings of joy, but she also became more energized and productive. Who knew??
There is never a good time to make yourself a priority. Most of us have learned that it’s selfish to care for one’s own needs first, but the truth is we are more effective and joyful in whatever we do when our own needs and fun quotient are met. That is when we can give most generously to others and make a difference in profound ways. We’re giving from the deep well within rather than running on empty or feeling burnt out.
Is joy missing from your life? Are you sacrificing your experience of joy because of the demands of others?
Answer these questions for yourself:
1. What are the next steps I need to take in my life?
2. What holds me back from experiencing more joy?
3. What’s my plan for finding greater joy this year and beyond?
As always, I look forward to hearing from you!