What does it mean to you?
I mean, really mean. This is a question I have been pondering in all aspects of life.
Life is uncertain. Tomorrow is not promised. Yet, I find the majority of us are waiting to discover a treasure trove before we start truly living life.
Sounds cheesy. I know. Bare with me.
What is stopping you from enjoying life now? It sounds simple enough; like something a yoga instructor may suggest you “meditate” on. However, I am not talking about the practice of “being more present.” Not really, that is.
I am talking about “being joy.”
Which is not to be confused with seeking joy.
Allow me to explain:
As a nutritionist, I hear it all the time. A client waiting to buy a fantastic pair of jeans, or a new handbag, sweater, dress for an upcoming event, etc., only once they have lost the final 10 pounds. The client that holds off on dating (again) until they can fit into that favorite outfit, or confuses their worth, or ability to obtain something awesome, only once they have hit their goal weight, or ideal wellness scenario.
It is not just in my nutrition practice that I have been pondering this concept of Being Joy. It is daily. I hear friends that are waiting to take up that new hobby only once they have hit a certain level of comfort, career status, when their husband retires, once the kids are off to college, when the house is finally organized, or when the puppy is potty trained. I hear people wait to start their resolutions in a month, on a Monday, or after the holidays. I hear colleagues talking about their next big career move and what they will do when this next big thing occurs…“Then I will book that trip,” is the common theme.
I am not talking about quitting your job and taking to the woods to rediscover your zest for life (though, that does make for a great novel).
Many of us adore dogs (if not children) because the littlest of things delight them. Yet us humans march to the tune of: “When I get *here* in life, then I will do the things that brings me joy.”
Sure. We are humans. Not dogs. Not innocent children.
But… wouldn’t it be nice to be delighted more often?
I have found in my own life and career, that it does not matter whether you are striving to hit a wellness goal, or attempting to get to the place where you feel ready to make a leap…
The more we focus on what is missing from our perfect scenario, the more we stay stuck.
We seek joy, but we struggle to be joy.
For instance, how would you act differently today, if you were in better shape, or had the time, career, relationship, grades, (fill in the blank) that you are currently seeking?
Would you reach for the chips in frustration, or would you go for a walk?
Would you wake up 30 minutes earlier and do a workout, choose the ahi tuna salad over the fries, put a little extra effort in your outfit, read more, smoke less and greet your googly-eyed neighbors with a smile, instead of rolling your eyes at their new car, or enthusiasm for Hallmark movies?
Have you ever felt great about yourself and then glance in the mirror to discover a flaw? Maybe the scale made you mad this morning, or your partner left the seat up, or you did not get the promotion you deserved. Does it derail your day? Or part of it?
My point is, we tend to make better choices when we feel like we are in a good, or better, spot than we were last week, but the only thing that has really changed is our mindset.
Nutritionist speak: Yes, you can better your gut health in a matter of days, which will eventually alter the chemical makeup of your gut biome and boost your clarity and mood, but the thing that is going to send you into a healthy spiral is that initial step. That mindset.
In other words, sometimes the only things holding us back from being happy are just illusions.
Being joy is not about becoming content with the status quo, or wearing rose colored glasses.
Being joy is literally about shifting your daily habits as if you have already achieved what you are seeking.
Find yourself in a rough mood?
Create a healthy trigger to shift you out of it. I am not talking about grabbing the popcorn, cheese, or a glass of wine. I am talking about turning on 15 minutes of your favorite comedian, an uplifting song, do a silly dance, do 10 push-ups at your desk, sit in your car and sing at the top of your lungs, read a story in “Chicken Soup for the Soul” (remember those?), walk around the block listening to a pod-cast, or audible.