This isn't what I wanted to post today, no -- I have a million other, more exciting posts in mind, like sharing about my weekend in Philadelphia and thoughts ahead towards summer and manifesting dreams and things falling into place and creative juice and so much more.
But today is today, and this is what needs to be written.
You know that phrase, Joy is a choice? Or perhaps you've heard it as Joy is an option or Choose joy. It's the simple idea that you can master your own happiness, that it's a job you work on every day when you wake up in the morning and choose over and over again to make happen. How simple, right?
I never caught on to this idea. I quietly scoffed in my head whenever I heard this idea written or spoken. I made up stories about Well she obviously has a much easier life than I do and Yeah right, have that person spend one day in my head and see if it's so easy and so on and so on. There were a million reasons why I couldn't choose joy.
And there was also a huge amount of self-judgment. A really, really large amount. Because if joy is so easy to choose, why couldn't I choose it all the time? Why was I having bad days and struggling through mind-boggling anxiety when others were just magically, easily choosing joy? If it was really that simple, why couldn't I do it?
I had these thoughts and judgments towards myself for a really, really long time, up until just a very few months ago. And then one day it all became clear (I can't even remember how, I suppose it was just time for me to know it).
Just because joy is an option, this does not mean you need to feel joy in every single moment.
Whoa. I'm still sort of blown away by this. There are two big ideas I found here:
1. Feeling sad or fearful or anxious or off or just-having-a-bad-day is all part of choosing joy. If you're honoring your feelings and staying in the present, aren't you choosing joy? This doesn't mean you can't feel angry at the world or like you just want to crawl under your covers and never come out when you need to -- on the contrary, it actually means that these are our natural feelings that we should own. Not honoring these emotions and covering them up with a false sense of joy would be the opposite here.
2. In Hannah Marcotti's Joy Up program, I learned the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is fleeting, a feeling that's not permanent and often based on many other impermanent factors. But joy -- oh, joy is that supreme sense of contentedness in life. It's that deep, inner knowing that all is well, that all will be well, that you're on a path towards joy and the journey there can include joy, but it can also include shit and mess. Such a difference.
See what I mean? When I began thinking of it this way, it all opened up. I got it. I can choose joy whenever I please, and I can also choose to sit with my feelings of not-good-enough and overwhelm, too -- and it still means that I'm choosing joy.
Today, I'm in a place of feeling not-good-enough and overwhelm, which is why I felt I needed this post. I'm surviving a post-salon trauma that I usually feel after every salon visit -- except this time, I'm sitting with my feelings and exploring them a bit. I had an appointment for a color and a cut last night, and left with a pretty decent color and cut. Except my stylist wasn't a match for me -- I walked out fighting back tears and feeling attacked, like I was stupid and didn't know what I was talking about and that my frizzy hair just wasn't good enough. It was awful.
Needless to say, I let it all out. (And once I was calmed down, I got out the scissors (gasp!) and trimmed my bangs to how I wanted them and would have asked for them if the stylist had stopped pushing them to the side to try and get rid of them and I hadn't been so choked up.) In those moments though, when I was really in the thick of it, choosing joy did not feel like an option. It felt like the farthest thing from my mind. I did not want to have to choose joy. I felt I couldn't choose joy. And yet, as I sat in my car sobbing and feeling like my world was ending (hormones, oh yes), I think I was choosing joy. The tears and cries were marvelous and soul-filling, and just what I needed.
I'm staying home from work today and moving slowly. I'm drinking hot tea and staying in pajama pants and taking on some extra writing to make up for a smaller paycheck from daycare next week. I'm honoring my feelings, I'm only doing things my body wants to do, I'm taking my vitamins and herbs and letting go of any other obligations.
Yes, joy. I'll take it.