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Increasing your capacity for joy

joy May 26, 2024
What brings you joy?

I’ve decided my life is primarily about joy.


And as everything we do is to change the way we feel, I’m either changing what I do or seeing how I can do it with more joy.


If you’re going through a tough or intensely stressful period right now, these words might feel a little insane. Bear with me.


When I look back on my 56 years of adventuring through life, I can see that my happiness was largely dependent on my capacity for joy. At the time, I thought it was dependent on my relationships, the amount of money I had, my working and living conditions and my health.


External factors or internal? Which are most powerful?


You can argue with me all you like about how you can't be happy until this thing gets done, this person leaves your life or changes their behaviour, things calm down, you meet someone wonderful, your cash flow improves, you move house and your health improves. Of course these things matter.


But when we get into the waiting game of pouring all our time, energy and attention into trying to control and rearrange other people and circumstances, life becomes really hard work and joy is postponed.


Conversely, deliberately cultivating the capacity for more joy makes the everyday complexities and busyness easier to deal with. Life becomes about journeying well and not just about reaching a destination.


On Saturday I had the incredible privilege of looking after my tiny 9 month old granddaughter, for the first time. There was a moment when she suddenly looked directly into my eyes, smiled and reached out and touched my cheek. In that moment of pure joy, my heart filled and everything else disappeared.


I want more moments like that. And so I deliberately cultivate more capacity for joy. I practise the skill of owning my future desires whilst staying present in the joy and gratitude of the present. 


How? With the intention to do so. I make it a priority. And since taking two weeks out of my life to just walk, I’ve decided my life is primarily about joy.


I notice where my attention is, when it is hijacked by those inevitable time travelling loops of down and the urgency and tyranny of the To-Dos. I look for the joy that is here already, before I’ve done anything or completed anything and savour it. My working shower, right now the joy of a well-lit toilet that includes loo roll and sewers that cope with flushing it (walking The Camino requires searching for loos and then attempting to cope with the automatic lighting that often leaves you sat in the dark after just a few seconds..and don’t get me started on the where to put the loo paper…), that first mouthful a good coffee, the delightful tanginess of marmalade on toast, the softness of my puppy’s fur, the white iris standing tall in my garden this week, the deep satisfaction of seeing my coaching clients find more capacity for joy in their own lives…I could do this all day. How about you?


What brings you joy? Where’s the joy you’re not focusing on? The joy that needs you to do nothing, other than notice it, breathe it in, savour it?


Wishing you an unexpectedly joyful day.




P.S. Episode 66 of The Overwhelm is Optional has a good technique for increasing your capacity for joy by rewiring your brain to notice Unexpectedly Lovely Things


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