This post was tentatively titled something like – Accessing Joy, or Remembering Joy, or something with joy in the title that might entice you to read on and learn some of my tips for cultivating and maintaining a joyful spirit. But as I sat down to write, a song by the hip hop artist J. Cole popped up on my playlist. The song is entitled “Change”, and the lyrics from the chorus, “I know you’re desperate for a change, let the pen glide, but the only real change comes from inside,” struck me in this moment.
So many of us are desperate for some sort of change, and we want easy answers. We seek out the secrets to joy, to happiness, something that will make us feel alive, valued, validated, worthy. The truth is that there is absolutely nothing that you can obtain from outside of yourself that will provide you with those things. Blame it on our culture, blame it on your parents, it doesn’t matter. We’ve been handed down a bad bill of sale that says the more that I consume, the more that I take on, the more that I drift away from trusting and getting to know myself, the more satisfaction I should feel. Really, the opposite is true!
If you are at a point where your running narrative, the little voice in your head, keeps saying, “Something needs to change,” listen to it. That is your intuition, your inner wisdom practically begging for a shift. Your inner wisdom knows exactly what you need to embrace a joy filled life, to bring yourself to your peaceful natural state, and even what your next move should be.
Here are a few tips for tapping into that wisdom and getting into high gear for changing your mindset, your attitude, your life:
Get Quiet: When I moved back to my hometown in Maryland after spending two noisy years in New York, right at the time of the 9/11 tragedy, I was in complete culture shock. Everything felt too quiet. I didn’t know how to react to noiselessness after living in a city so full of sounds that the buzzing had become a part of me. It took time, but I began to enjoy stillness, a sense of peace that allowed me to think and notice my thoughts versus letting my thoughts think me. Finding spaces to be still and quiet are not always easy. However, it is truly the only way to experience unity between your body, mind, and spirit. Finding times to cut out the chatter and the buzz are essential to changing from inside.
Become comfortable with discomfort: Have you ever heard that what you resist persists? Well, this is incredibly important when we talk about being uncomfortable. We hate it. Oh, how we hate it! Humans will do just about anything to not be uncomfortable. And of course, this makes sense. We have spent a lot of time evolving and building resources to lead to our ultimate comforts. It makes us feel safe and stable. The problem is when we ignore discomfort hoping it will go away, it only tends to grow. Unfortunately, we also get really comfortable with situations or environments that go against our overall well-being. And while we should not aim for being uncomfortable all of the time, there are moments of discomfort that we need to embrace if we are going to make the necessary changes for ourselves from the inside out.
Own your stuff: There is absolutely no way to make changes unless you are willing to accept ownership for how you choose to behave. The world has many pitfalls that can seemingly be aimed right at us. We want to believe that we can’t control how we react when we feel attacked. It is easier to blame someone else for our pain or the pain we have caused. Being human means that there will be pain and trials. We are also given the gift of choice. We can train ourselves to examine and acknowledge our own stuff and then shift accordingly. I am of course not talking about blaming a victim for being attacked. There is a difference between encountering physical and mental abuse versus feeling like you are under constant attack and choosing not to correct that perspective.
Forgive yourself: When you know better, you do better. Most of us are working through unlearning some of the negative things we have been trained to accept about ourselves. When we make mistakes or, worse yet, try to prevent mistakes by not taking steps forward, it’s easy to beat up on ourselves. It’s time to bring the compassion that you would give to your best friend back to yourself. Understand that you will not always get it right, but that you are worthy of giving yourself a second chance. And a third, and a forth if necessary. The important thing is to notice when patterns are emerging and settle into yourself to discover why.
Embracing these are just the tip of the iceberg. See what I did there? Cause I just gave you…tips. 🙂 The reality is that true change in your life starts internally. And it takes time. You have had all of your life to get to the place where you are. It will take time to get to the place where you want to be. You may have to make some external adjustments to prepare yourself for the internal work. But trust me, you can do this.