"Ask and it shall be given" is a phrase we have all heard. I believe instead, "Ask and find yourself worthy of receiving."
If you're like most of us, you've experienced joy, at least a little. But have you found your way to experiencing the everyday, easy flow of joy that fills the body from the inside?
Christianity and Buddhism both teach the principle that joy is an inner quality. The belief is that at the core of each person lies calm radiant joy. Everyone is born inherently happy. But through our life experiences, we cover and conceal our true self with layers of worry, fear, and doubt. Through habit we have taught ourselves to think thoughts that create difficult feelings.
If indeed at the core of us lies joy itself, than the process of experiencing joy can be viewed in a different light. There is no event, no person, nothing which can grant you this feeling. There is nothing you have to do first before you can be worthy of feeling joy. Joy comes from the inside. Joy is the core of who you are. Joy is not something you must earn. You don't have to be thin enough, rich enough, good enough, nice enough, or even pretty enough to have this feeling of joy. Imagine the freedom of knowing that the essence of who you are is joy!
Logically, it would seem that any one of us would easily allow ourselves to feel good. But this is often not the case. We have become heavily invested in feeling bad about ourselves. We may say we want to feel happy, but we'll actually do anything we can to avoid it. We allow ourselves to tolerate pain and discomfort. We cling to worries. Our minds insist on dwelling on unhappy thoughts. Dark thoughts have become habitual and automatic. And we've become experts at postponing joy. Maybe you see yourself in some of these examples:
> Waiting until losing weight before dressing comfortably and attractively.
> Thinking the joy will come once you've achieved the goal.
> Self-criticism for each step of the goal not accomplished perfectly.
> Never acknowledging individual effort or success.
> Eating wonderful meals only when in the company of others.
> Cooking for others, but not yourself.
> Sneaking certain foods alone.
> Tolerating poor treatment from others.
> Not allowing self-care.
> Isolating because you have decided you are not worthy of being with other people in your current state.
> Not achieving your goals.
What are some of the ways you hold yourself back from feeling joy:
HOW TO FEEL JOY
How do we go about feeling joy? In my experience, deep, fulfilling joy isn't something that instantly happens. Why? The answer has it's roots in what has already been stated: We are joy itself. But we don't trust ourselves to relax, to choose thoughts that make us feel good, to not engage in worry. We don't trust our higher joyful Self to connect with our physical body. We don't know how to fill up with our own joy. So it's going to take a bit of a process to allow this connection to occur.
A starting point to allow the connection of joy with your physical body is to make a conscious decision that you are tired of working on your life and working on your problems. Decide you want to experience joy. Make the decision over and over again. The decision to experience joy involves taking responsibility to learn new behaviors and to act differently. Learning to appreciate the love and beauty already happening. Learning to appreciate our own efforts. Letting problems be solved with positive intent, envisioning solutions, and staying in a place of feeling good, rather than feeling worry and fear. We can train our minds to consistently think positive thoughts. Yes, all of this requires effort, but it is possible. Joy is not something someone else can do for us or give us. This is the mission of your life: To feel joy. And only you can make the choice to allow joy to flow through your body.
You can't control circumstances outside of you. Life is full of experiences. But you can decide what goes on inside of you. In each moment we can choose what we want to think. If we are not thinking thoughts that create feelings of joy, we can choose again. We always have with us the "freedom to choose" a better thought or vision.
The latest mantra for my life is:
"Nothing is more important than my feeling good." Each time a worry thought comes up, I repeat this phrase. Each time I begin to obsess about someone else's behavior, I repeat this phrase. When I fall into doubt, I repeat this phrase. At the very least, it breaks the cycle and energy of non-productive negative thoughts. At best, I free myself up so that I can center and allow myself to be in alignment with a more resourceful state.
Allowing joy is your purpose in life. Make a constant effort to find joy in everything you do. Look for the good in each moment. Identify it in any given situation. Do something positive that will cause joy to happen. Choose to find new ways to feel good today. Find easy ways to center and come back into alignment with feeling good. Invite more joy into your life. Ask the Universe for it, pray about it, and give thanks for it in advance. Today, open your eyes and your heart to all the abundance in your life and make room for more to flow in. It may come to you in surprising ways.
EXERCISE TO EXPERIENCE JOY:
Remember one instance in life when you've had a strong feeling of being joyful. Take some time and allow yourself to relax your body (deep breathing, meditation, guided relaxation, etc.) Close your eyes and fully associate into the experience of being joyful. See what you saw at the time and hear what you heard with that experience. Bring all your senses into your vision. Make that image as 3-D, virtual reality, as bright and alive as possible. Notice the feelings in your body. Notice if these are the feelings of being joyful. If not, go back into the image and alter it in whatever way to necessary to bring about feeling joy. Feel those feelings in your physical body. Allow yourself to feel really good. If some part of your body isn't accepting the feeling, take some time relax, reassure yourself that everything is okay until the feeling becomes a really good feeling flowing through you. If possible, intensify the feeling of feeling good.
ADVANCED EXERCISE FOR FEELING JOY:
Continue allowing this feeling of joy to flow through your body. Now imagine being in the situation you are wishing to change (for example, your goal). Feel the feeling of joy as you imagine yourself having your goal. Continue to engage all the senses to engage more of your brain and nervous system. Let the images of success and joy fill your body.
Use your imagination. Put yourself in the picture. Live as you would like to live. Feel that life inside of your body. You can be as alive, vibrant, and joyful as you want to be. Stand in your body and put yourself in the situation that pleases you. Make the temperature exactly as you want it to be. Paint all the details. You get to do whatever it is you want to do, exactly the way you want to. Have a conversation. Say what you would say under those conditions. Receive compliments. Adore people. Be adored.
Let yourself enjoy this virtual reality. Before we can create the life we want, we have to imagine it and feel it and be there. This is the process of putting our attention on what is wanted instead of focusing on what isn't right in the world.
Copyright 2005, Dr. Annette Colby, all rights reserved.
Dr. Annette Colby, RD
"Opening Creative Portals to Success"
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