Joy is our birthright. Discover the choices you can make to lead a joyful life.
1. Self-Compassion Rather Than Self-Judgment
In the 44 years I've been counseling clients, I've never had a client who was not judging themselves—and not realizing the profound negative effects of self-judgment. Most are afraid to let go of self-judgment, believing that without judging themselves, they will sit and do nothing. When they finally take the risk of self-compassion, they realize that, far from doing nothing, they are now motivated by happiness and toward being far more productive and creative. If they were previously doing well, it was in spite of their self-judgment, not because of it. If they were not doing well, it was because the self-judgment was immobilizing them.
Moving into compassion for ourselves—for our painful feelings, for our mistakes and failures, for being human—is magical! Self-compassion opens us to learning, healing and new choices that can bring us much joy.
2. Make It Okay To Be Rejected
How much energy do you spend trying to be perfect, saying or doing the 'right' thing, giving yourself up, avoiding being yourself, and not being spontaneous? The big false belief here is that we can have control over how others feel about us and treat us. What if you accepted that you don't have this control over others, just as they don't have this control over you? What if you accepted rejection as a fact of life, and instead of attaching your worth to what others think, you define your own worth?
3. Define Your Intrinsic Worth
There are two ways to define your worth—extrinsically and intrinsically. When you define your worth extrinsically, you are defining yourself by your looks, achievements and performance—and by what others think of your looks, achievements and performance. This is a very hard way to live, as you constantly have to strive to feel like you are okay—and failure is not okay.
When you define your worth intrinsically, you define yourself by your inborn eternal qualities—the qualities that don't fade with age. While looks and performance fade with age, intrinsic qualities such as kindness, caring, compassion, goodness, creativity, passion, aliveness, joy, curiosity, courage and integrity can deepen with age. When you define yourself by your intrinsic worth, you are valuing who are, and then what you do becomes an expression of who you are, rather than a definition of your worth as a person.
4. Make It Okay To Fail
When you know you are inherently worthy, then it becomes okay to fail. Rather than failure defining your lack of worth, failure becomes a learning experience, letting us know what else we need to learn. Making it okay to fail and not seeing failure as defining you in any way opens the door to trying new things that can bring you much joy.
5. Don't Take Others' Behavior Personally
Once you define your intrinsic worth, it becomes much easier to not take others' behavior personally. When you know and value who you are intrinsically, then you accept that others' unloving behavior is about them rather than about you.
6. Stay Present In Your Body
When you live in your head rather than in your body, you are thinking rather than experiencing. You are missing the moment, which is where joy is. Staying in your head, thinking about the past or future, is a form of control that most of us learned as we were growing up to protect against pain.
But pain and joy live in the same place in the heart, so when we avoid the pain of life, we also avoid the joy of life. Rather than avoiding pain through staying in your head and through various addictions, why not learn how to manage the pain of life through developing your spiritual connection? Then you can stay present in your body, experiencing the beauty, joy and wonder of the present moment.
7. Intent To Learn/Love Rather Than Intent To Protect/Control
Our intent is what governs how we feel and behave. When our intent is to protect against pain with some form of controlling behavior—trying to control our feelings, others and outcomes—we end up abandoning ourselves and may feel anxious, depressed, empty, alone, guilty and/or shamed. When our intent is to learn about loving ourselves and sharing our love with others, our heart opens and we receive the joy that is an aspect of Spirit.
8. Higher-Self Dominion
When we give dominion to our mind to govern our thoughts and actions, we will likely feel badly rather than joyful. The mind has been programmed with many false beliefs that can cause us much pain. When we open to learning with our spiritual guidance and give our higher-self dominion over our thoughts, choices and actions, we operate from truth. The truth truly does set us free!
Finally, when we focus on what we do have rather than complaining about what we don't have, and when we choose gratitude throughout the day for all the small and beautiful things about life, our heart opens to the experience of joy.
While this might seem daunting, just start with practicing number one—self-compassion rather than self-judgment. As you get better and better at this, you will find the other choices much easier to do.
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