The Power of Kindness Part Three: Joy
Let me begin this post by saying right up front that Joy, in the past had always eluded me. I hear people talk about joy, I read books on the subject, I meditate, work hard, love my work, my family and my clients, But……this whole concept of joy has been an interesting one. Further evidence of my doubts that joy at work is possible are the faces I see as I walk the hallways of many corporate offices and studio lots. I wondered if joy was only something you could feel in nature or while celebrating your faith, perhaps it was doled out on special occasions only to recede back into the shadows until the next “joyful” opportunity arose? The whole idea felt like chasing ghosts. Something inside me (there’s that reference again) kept tugging at my sleeve and saying “you are looking in the wrong place”!
I began the quest for experiencing joy by growing up in a home that had many joyless moments. So, I asked myself a few questions. #1: How do we know something or feel something that is so foreign to us that we have no way to recognize it even if it is right in front of us or better yet, right inside of us? #2: What the heck is the difference between happiness and joy? While I have had many happy moments throughout my life, I did notice that they were fleeting. Great masters spoke of the distinctions- happiness is temporary and acutely tied to external circumstances while joy lives inside of us no matter what our external world may look like-huh?
OK, right away, being the suspicious “I’ll believe it when I see it kinda gal” I was intrigued but also cautious. #3: I actually knew this was true. Joy IS inside, not outside and I have no evidence to prove it other than the warm sensation I get that is not too high on the emotional scale or too low. It’s just one of those crazy moments when I know I have heard a truth.
To further validate my thesis (and I use that term broadly) I was watching a story about a family in Haiti. After surviving the devastating earthquake of 2010, I watched as the father of this family, still living in squalor greeted his children as they came home to their lean-to shelter. His smile beaming, his children running and I mean running into his arms to feel his warm embrace. The reporter and crew were obviously moved by this scene…and so was I. Pure, unpretentious, totally irrational joy. After the reporter composed himself he asked the father how he was able to be so positive under such dire circumstances? He answered with eloquent simplicity. “I love my children more than life itself. We have survived and every day I see them smile fills my heart with joy”. In that moment I got it. I felt it and I knew I could call upon it anytime.
Naturally, I wanted to test it so I did what any rational lunatic would do. I went to the airport. I actually had a flight to LA and I figured what better place to test the power of joy than in an airport….LAX no less? It was perfect. There were delays, people were rushing, impatient, rude and some were downright mean but I opened my heart, took a few deep breaths and called forth the vision of the the family in Haiti. I smiled, even if no one smiled back (they probably thought I was some kind of nut job!), I took in humanity with all it’s diverse sounds, colors, smells and textures. I withheld judgements or if they did pop up I just noticed them without reacting. Life was all around me and I experienced a calm, sweet joy inside. No delays or rudeness was able to penetrate this place inside me. My mind was clear and calm and I knew that in order for joy to live our mind has to be in the drivers seat. We have to chose joy. It is a conscious choice we must make many times over the course of our day.
In keeping with the theme of my recent posts I would like to propose the following:
- If you are hoping your job will bring you joy, forget it. You may have moments of happiness but joy truly does not come from your job. Your job is what you do, not who you are.
- Joy needs fertile soil. Kindness, gratitude, generosity and love are the fertilizer. Try spreading some of this for a few weeks at work and see what happens?
- Joy is a choice.
- Forgiveness. Joy has a tough time living and breathing under the oppressive weight of resentment. Let it go, whatever the heck it is, no matter how awful, let it go. As Carrie Fisher and others have said “Resentment is like drinking the poison and expecting the other person to die”.
- Love yourself. There, I said it. Love yourself for all of it, the good, the ugly, the cruel, the kind, the selfish, the generous, the hopeless and the hopeful.
BE GRATEFUL, BE GENEROUS, BE KIND, BE JOYFUL-BE FREE!
Amy Green, CEC, PCC-Amy has been helping clients improve the quality of their professional and personal interactions for over 17 years. Amy brings an array of diverse experiences to her practice and a compassionate understanding of the challenges currently facing our changing world. Amy brings to her coaching an ability to delve deeply beneath the surface to explore and identify meaning, challenge and life purpose for developing leaders.
To contact Amy please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call