“You can’t be happy all the time,” people occasionally say when they hear about The Joy Coach, and I agree with them. There’s often a big misconception about what I do and believe in. The path to joy is often an uncomfortable journey and that’s okay and actually even necessary.
Believe me, although I come across as positivity itself, I experience a roller-coaster of emotions pretty regularly. This year has been particularly tough as I’ve moved way out of my comfort zone, growing, failing and learning along the way. I’m not always fun to live with, just ask Andy or Miles. But what I’ve got much better at over the years is learning how to deal with negative emotions caused by unhelpful thoughts.
Joy training is for me learning how to accept and really feel what is going on and then actively letting go of what does not serve me. With our natural negativity bias that dates back to the stone age, it sometimes takes work to find our way back to the genuine joy that’s always there, beneath the fear and beyond the self doubt.
Meditation and mindfulness have helped me enormously over the years. It’s a big part of what I teach and integrate into my coaching to help us understand what’s really going on inside. So there’s a big difference between toxic positivity, where we try to run away from or cover up what we’re really feeling and genuine joy, which comes when we have left room to experience not just the highs, but also the lows in life with a new level of consciousness.
All emotions can teach us something about ourselves.
I love Rumi’s poem, “The Guest House”. It beautifully encapsulates the sometimes bumpy journey we are on.
This human being is a guest house,
every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture.
Still, treat each guest honorably,
he may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
Meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
The more we accept the darkness, the faster we find our way back to our natural light. The less we fear sadness or pain, the easier it is to recover and feel better. If we numb ourselves discomfort with overeating, overworking, overshopping or overdrinking, we also numb ourselves to the possibility of natural unencumbered joy.
When we allow ourselves to really feel what’s going on with gratitude for what it’s telling us, consciously looking at the source of the discomfort, we give ourselves the ability to change what we’re thinking and doing so that we can tackle life with more positive power.
It’s not about being happy all the time, it’s about learning to surf the waves better. When we meet these unwelcome guests with a friendly curiosity, we can start to enjoy and control the bumpy ride with greater ease.