May 11th 2018 - Joy - by Gloria Rohlfs, MSW, LSW
We all want to feel joy but are stymied with how to do so.
Some of us find joy in our family and friends or travel or work. And these can contribute to joy.
Some of us try to find joy in drinking or drugs or sex. And sometimes we can – for a while. But then the thrill wears off.
Some of us seek joy in owning possessions and from buying things. But then we’re depressed when the bills arrive.
In the long run, many people don’t seem very joyful. They’re overwhelmed by worrying about the future and complaining about the past and present. But we can learn to increase our joy in life and overcome habits that get in the way.
Joy is attainable!
One big block to joy is hate and anger. I know someone who still hates his former girlfriend, 5 years after she broke up with him. He can’t feel joy because he’s focused on anger and hate and is stuck in the role of victim. If someone’s hurt you, deal with these feelings and move on. Sometimes we need professional help to work through the pain – but it’s worth doing to enjoy life.
Letting go of hate and anger and choosing to forgive free your heart from the past so you can move forward and make room for joy and love. It does not mean that what the person did was OK or that you would allow it to happen again. When you let go of the hateful emotions, you are no longer the victim and you are no longer emotionally connected to that person. You can then learn from the experience and make room for joy.
The second and very popular way that we torture ourselves and block joy is focusing on fear and worry. Over 95% of the things we worry about never happen. But many of us spend an inordinate amount of time worrying – “What if this happens? What if that happens?” This is exhausting and it blocks joy.
One form of fear and worry is catastrophizing – assuming the worst. A woman I know received one verbal warning at work. Although her evaluation had been excellent, she catastrophized her situation, and it grew in her mind from a verbal warning to her being terminated to her never finding another job and then being homeless. All from a verbal warning! None of those things happened but she made herself miserable for awhile.
Sometimes we cause what we fear by overreacting. If that woman had become really distracted by her worries and fears, her work performance would have suffered. Or someone who worries about their partner leaving them might destroy the relationship with their obsessive worry and jealousy. Focusing on fear and worry draws what we fear to us and gets in the way of feeling joy.
Worry and fear will not protect us. They are bad habits that make us unhappy.
However, we can change how we deal with worry and fear.
Examine your worries and fears. Write out a contingency plan with how you will handle what you’re worrying about if it should happen. Then if you’re tempted to worry about it, remind yourself, “I don’t have to worry - I have a plan.”
You also have the ability to change how you think. Take deep breaths and push worries and fearful thoughts away if there is nothing you can do about them right now. Remind yourself that most of what you’ve worried about has never happened. Replace worries and fears with reassuring messages and focus on your strengths and successes. Tell yourself, “Whatever happens, I can figure out a way to deal with it.”
Another BIG joy-buster is complaining and blaming and focusing on what’s wrong. Commercials on TV manipulate us into feeling dissatisfied with our lives, focusing on what we do not have. Many people think they’d be happy “if only” they had a new car or a better body or the right clothes - and complain about not having them.
You’ve probably worked with people who complain about their job all the time. They don’t seem very happy, do they? They’re acting like victims and are not doing anything to change the situation.
Maybe you have friends who complain about their relationship to you and blame their partner for their unhappiness. How is complaining to you going to improve their relationship and make them happy?
Often we expect our partners to make us happy. There is only one person who can make you happy – and that is you - if you choose to take responsibility for your emotions and your life. That’s good news because it gives you control over your life.
Focus on what you have control over.
Remember - you always have options:
1) You can complain about the job or the relationship and focus on what’s wrong, blame others, and choose to be miserable.
2) Or you can try to change the conditions that you don’t like. Talk constructively with your boss. Talk with your partner, do couples counseling.
3) Or you can find a different job or end the relationship.
4) Or you can change your attitude. Focus on the benefits of the job (security, paycheck). Focus on the benefits of the relationship (security, love, someone to annoy).
You have the power to choose your actions and what you tell yourself – and what you tell yourself influences how you feel.
Focus on what’s right and be grateful for your life. Stop and smell the flowers, enjoy the sunshine – and even the rain – and honor the wonder of life.
Gratitude opens our hearts to joy.
We kill our joy with hate, anger, fear and worry. We drive joy away by complaining and blaming and focusing on what’s wrong.
We have the power to change our thoughts and bring joy into our lives. We can choose to forgive. We can focus on our strengths and on what’s going right.
We can take responsibility for our emotions. We can be grateful for what we have.
The path to joy is within us. If we seek joy, we will find it.
. . . Gloria Rohlfs . c 2015. . .
Gloria Rohlfs, MSW, LSW previously offered holistic services, including Management Coaching, Business and Career Coaching, Life Coaching, Counseling, Psychotherapy, and Jin Shin Jyutsu energy harmonizing. send a email.
Rohlfs Coaching,Consulting & Creativity, LLC
Philadelphia, PA 19119