Looking for Joy?

Find the place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain. Joseph Campbell, American Professor of Literature

Do you ever wake up and wonder where the joy went? If you’ve recently experienced a severe loss, perhaps you’re frequently asking yourself this question. Although I’m naturally a joyful person, lately, as I continue to live my life at home, I often wonder where the joy went.  At these times, I pause, look inside and find where the joy is hiding. I trust that it’s still in there.

I believe that during challenging periods of our lives, it’s natural to experience dark days, literally and figuratively. Dark or not, I’m determined to remain grateful for everyday no matter what it brings knowing that eventually the joy will burn out the pain.

Affirmation: I am grateful for everyday.

Coaching question: What gives you joy? How do you handle days that are joy-less? 

It’s Possible to Be Joyful Again

What we have once enjoyed we can never lose; all that we deeply love becomes a part of us. Helen Keller

Loss of a loved one is always difficult. It’s the price we pay for having a great love. However, we can be joyful again as we learn to accommodate to life after loss.

C.S. Lewis in A Grief Observed likened accepting your life after loss to a man learning to walk after a leg has been amputated. Lewis writes, “The amputee may get along quite well, may even become facile and agile on crutches or on a carefully designed artificial limb. But the amputee must accommodate to permanent loss. He or she will never walk as before; repair does not mean a return to the way things were.”

Our life will never be as it was before our loss but knowing that those we love are always a part of us, we can be joyful again. 

Affirmation: I can be joyful again after loss.

Coaching questions: How are you different after loss? In what ways have you accommodated to your loss? What will help you be joyful again? 

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What Will Help You Increase Your Joy Quotient?

Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy. Thich Nhat Hanh, spiritual leader

A faith group I’m in, Girl Talk God Talk, is consciously searching for, acknowledging, sharing, and showing gratitude for the joy in their lives this year. We often take joy for granted or ignore it altogether when we are not conscious of its presence in our daily lives. On the other hand, joy can elude us as during certain seasons of our lives. 

Sometimes we must create joy, other times we need only recognize the joy in us. I think this is what Hanh meant when he wrote about joy. Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Choose joy and/or let it choose you—then say, “Thank you.”

Affirmation: I choose joy.

Coaching questions: Is there joy in your life everyday? If not, what can you do to raise your joy quotient? What’s one thing you can do, say, or think that will bring you joy (and a smile to your face) today?

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Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

How To Negate Negativity

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for a newer and richer experience. Eleanor Roosevelt

Did you know that your brain is built to be more sensitive to unpleasant news than it is to pleasant? You’ll probably remember the rebuke longer than you’ll remember the praise. Sometimes, the sadness of death will impact a person more than the feelings of joy and warmth they received from their loved one.

This bias for negativity generally causes us to worry more than necessary, fear the worst, and focus on bad narratives for too long. When we allow this to happen, we rob ourselves of experiencing the joys around us.

Eckhart Tolle, spiritual teacher and author, writes, “All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry — all forms of fear — are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”

Affirmation: I feel the joy.

Coaching questions/requests: Are you experiencing an abundance of anxiety, stress, or worry? What about sadness, bitterness, regret? This week, take time to be aware of your negativity. As you do so, refocus your thoughts by meditating, having an attitude of gratitude, establishing a “worry time” or writing down your negative thoughts to get them out of your head. Some negativity will hang around for a while and that’s ok. What counts is your continued effort to redirect and reprogram. You will see the effects of it over time, just stick with it.

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Photo by Bruno Aguirre on Unsplash

Will Your Life Be Filled With Lemons or Will You Make Lemonade?

You either get bitter or you get better. It’s that simple. You either take what has been dealt to you and allow it to make you a better person or you allow it to tear you down. The choice does not belong to fate. It belongs to YOU. Josh Shipp, youth motivational speaker

Of course, the natural and appropriate response to loss is sadness and grief. However, it’s been my experience that when the focus remains on the one you lost, there is less despair and depression than when the focus remains on yourself. When we get stuck in saying or thinking, “Why me? It’s not fair. How can I possibly cope?” we stymie our ability to move forward. So much depends on how we respond to our experience. 

The motherless daughters I interviewed who moved forward with their lives, frequently talked about all their mothers gave them, even if their time with them was short, rather than all they lost because of her death. Both conversations are appropriate but focusing on the former seemed to lead to more joy. 

Affirmation: I choose to get better.

Coaching questions: What is your response to loss? Is it working for you? What will help you focus more on the lost loved one and less on yourself?

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Gratefully Celebrating Mother’s Day

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie, author

Mother’s Day can be difficult for many women, not just those of us who have lost our mothers. It can be difficult for women who are estranged from their mothers, have no children but wish they did, those who have lost a child, or those who are away from their family.

For me, gratitude always helps me cope. I’m grateful for the friendly smile, bright eyes, and sunny personality I got from my mom, I’m grateful for my three wonderful children, three step kids, eight grands, eleven step grands, and five (almost seven) step greats. What a bountiful life I have! And even though it’s a day for mothers, I am especially grateful for my dad who partnered with me to create a joyful childhood and beyond.

There will be a bit of sadness in my celebration tomorrow but mostly there will be gratitude.

Affirmation: I’m grateful.

Coaching questions: What helps you feel grateful on a difficult day? What difference can you make in someone else’s day today?

IMG_1479 (2).jpgMe and my mom, circa 1953

Use Creativity To Heal Yourself

Creativity is something that already exists inside each of us. It needs only to be uncovered. Gwen Coleman Detwiler, opera singer

One of the steps to recovering from loss is to apply your creativity. This may mean writing about your experience, tapping into the visual arts, engaging in dance or music to express your grief. You can also apply your creativity to establish a new or different life for yourself without a spouse, mother, or other loved one. 

To be human is to be creative. As we guard against pain or failure we block our vulnerability and creativity. Instead, be curious about your altered life and how you might use your creativity to express your feelings and explore new avenues for joy.

Affirmation: I am creative.

Coaching questions: How have you experienced your creativity in the past (think back to childhood if necessary)? What did it mean to you? What creative outlet will you use to heal yourself? 

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Where Does Your Joy Hide?

Find the place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain. Joseph Campbell, American Professor of Literature

Do you ever wake up and wonder where the joy went? Once in a while I do. I’m naturally a joyful person but there are those days when I have to remember all the things for which I’m thankful and the abundant joys in my life. I’ve used Mr. Campbell’s quote before because I love it. We have to look inside and find where the joy is hiding. I trust it is there.

On the flip side, it’s just fine not to be joy-filled everyday. We all have dark days, literally and figuratively. Just thinking of my friends and family in the Arctic blast in the Chicago area makes me feel grateful that our temperature right now is literally eighty degrees warmer than their frigid reading. In addition to that bit of gratitude, I cheered myself up by looking at this scene I captured a few weeks ago. Memories bring joy also. 

Affirmation: The joy is inside.

Coaching question: What gives you joy? How do you handle days that are joy-less? 

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Four Places to Look For Joy

Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain. Joseph Campbell, American Professor of Literature

When a person is grieving, it is hard for them to imagine finding joy again in their life. It may take a while to rediscover who you are and what makes you happy. Look beyond your fears and insecurities of the present. Hiding there is joy. 

  1. Check out who is in your corner. If you’re rediscovering joy, it’s important to have supportive people around you. Friends and family who will not get on the “ain’t it awful” train with you but help you move in a new direction.
  2. Reach out and help others. Those times when we need emotional help the most are the times when helping others will mean the most to us. It sounds counterintuitive but it works.
  3. Get rid of the “shoulds” in your life. Do what you want to do, be who you want to be. Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop beating yourself up. Be kind and gentle to yourself and you’ll be rewarded.
  4. Have an attitude of gratitude. You might feel less than grateful in the midst of sadness or grief. However, finding something for which you can be grateful everyday will help turn your life around.

Affirmation: I know where joy lives.

Coaching questions: If you’re looking for more joy in your life, what will you do today to help yourself move towards change? Is finding more joy worth the effort? I know one thing for sure—you’re worth it! You deserve joy in your life. 

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Peace To The World

What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace. Agnes M. Pharo, author

On this Christmas morning, I truly hope that someday every path will lead to peace. For Christians the world over, today has significance beyond the gifts and glitter. Jesus’ birth and life are about love—God’s love for His creation.

Although it is a sad, even heart-breaking, day for many, I hope, Dear Readers, you will find a slice of love and joy in your life today. Please know that if you’re grieving, sad, or lonely— I’m thinking of you and I’m wishing you a Very Blessed Christmas!

Affirmation: Someone cares about me.

Coaching questions: What will you do to acknowledge your sadness while celebrating joy in the world? This is one day out of 365. What will tomorrow be like? 

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From my house to yours, Merry Christmas!