Do you lean into joy? Or do you find yourself waiting for the other shoe to drop? Are you often looking over your shoulder in expectation of the happiness you feel to disappear at any moment?
If we don’t learn to be grateful or be vulnerable and present to what is in the moment, we are missing out on the richest moments that define our lives.
According to researcher, Brene Brown, people who live most fully and enjoy their lives the most are those whom she calls “the wholehearted.” She asserts that human beings who live wholeheartedly have a practice of courageously leaning into joy in spite of joy’s potentially fleeting nature.
Allowing ourselves to be fully embodied by and completely appreciate joyful experiences requires vulnerability and courage. It means that we allow ourselves to fully bask in happiness when we feel it, even with the awareness that it may be fleeting. The good news is that there ways we can learn to cultivate this ability.
Here are some ways (based on Brene Brown’s research and my own anecdotal experience) to make a practice of leaning into joy:
1) Actively practice gratitude. 100% of the “wholehearted” in the Brown’s study had some form of daily ritual around gratitude. Find a time of day where you can take one minute to actively connect to things you are grateful for. It doesn’t matter how small or big – just do it! I do my practice of gratitude in the shower every morning.
2) Increase your capacity for compassion and empathy. When you notice you’re being hard on yourself – pause. Give space. Think of a person in your life who has been your biggest supporter and imagine what they would say to you. If you are being hard on someone else – pause. Give space. Remove your metaphorical shoes and imagine walking in their shoes for a day. Send them loving energy, even if you don’t like them.
3) Soften and Surrender. Hard things are going to happen, but living every day practicing for these eventual difficulties hard will not change how much they hurt if/when they actually happen. Try catching yourself in this joy-stealing behavior and see if you can soften and surrender some of that perceived control.
If you have any to add, please send them my way!