I’ve talked about how vulnerability is hard before and how it’s okay to show your authentic self to those you love, but let’s take a minute to talk about joy.
Joy can be defined as “a feeling of great pleasure or happiness”. I want to hone in on the word “great” in that definition. It’s not just a feeling of pleasure; rather, it’s a feeling of great pleasure.
It’s one thing to experience pleasure or happiness, but joy is the feeling that makes you think your heart is going to burst out of your chest.
It’s the one that feels so intense in your chest, you wonder if it’s actually anxiety.
It’s what you feel after you have a baby or maybe after buying a first house or after eating a really great slice of pizza.
For me, joy was the feeling I felt intensely after recently getting engaged to a wonderful and considerate man.
It’s the feeling that we want more of.
It’s the feeling that’s so terrifying that we avoid it.
In Brene Brown’s book Braving the Wilderness, she describes how joy is one of the most vulnerable emotions we can feel as humans. To experience joy, we are allowing ourselves to experience great risk of the other side. When we allow ourselves to experience this fully, we are in our most vulnerable state.
The opposite of joy is pain. Have you ever pictured a fantastic moment and then another second later pictured it being completely destroyed? That feeling you just had reading that is fear. The fear of losing the people or moments that bring you so much joy is what stops us from being vulnerable and allowing ourselves to experience joy in the first place.
It would be easiest to not allow yourself to be vulnerable with people. In fact, I’ve thought this thought before. Without that vulnerability, though, without being completely seen, or completely present, or completely all in, you wouldn’t know what joy felt like.
And joy is something we all deserve to feel.
Did you know that relapse among people addicted to substances is more likely to happen when things are going WELL in their lives...when they are experiencing joy...than when things are going poorly?
Sometimes the risk of losing joy is too much, so we sabotage and lose it ourselves so that we can avoid feeling the pain of that loss.
Knowing this is the first step to changing your view of joy.
Joy, like other emotions, is a feeling. Feelings pass from one moment to another. Yes, the joy isn’t going to stay forever, but neither will pain, fear, or anxiety. These emotions will pass too. If we never allow ourselves the opportunity to experience joy, to be present in joy, we are closing ourselves off from one of the most incredible and important human experiences.