Choose joy

sculpture of a child with a butterfly resting on one hand

“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” ~Henri Nouwen

It’s so easy to get caught up in our duties, responsibilities, and the challenges that face us every day that we miss the opportunities to choose joy along the way.

By choosing joy—choosing to watch for it, to give it our attention, to embrace it when it arises—we make space for it to blossom in our lives. It’s a choice we need to make over and over again every day to keep it from being drown out in our worries and cares.

How are you choosing joy today?

The need for playfulness

Girl and tree

“Only when we are at our most playful can Divinity finally get serious with us.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

As adults, we tend to take life (and ourselves) so very seriously, which closes us down and shuts us off from our soul’s deepest experiences of the Divine.

Playfulness reintroduces us to wonder and imagination and delight that tear down those walls and open us up to the touch of the Divine in the fullest possible way.

The Divine is so much bigger than we can even begin to imagine when locked in our serious selves, and playfulness makes room for all of that More.

Make time regularly for play in your life to give the Divine space to enter in through wonder and joy.

Posts from other divisions of Chrysalis Wellness for this week

heart drawn on broken glass
The uniqueness of brokenness and repair from the A Kintsugi Life blog
Floral bubbles cold process soap bar
Floral bubbles cold process soap bar from Autumn Leaf Botanicals featured products
Mahogany obsidian cabochon in a brass bezel cup with brass and mahogany obsidian accents on brass chain
Mahogany obsidian cabochon pendant with brass and mahogany obsidian accents from the Earthwear Collection portfolio

Energizing a yoga class

I had the privilege to be the substitute teacher for an undergraduate level yoga class at IUPUI yesterday afternoon. This is a half-semester class, and yesterday was the second time the class had met. The surprise of having a substitute teacher seemed to disorient many of the students as we started the class time by moving all of the desks and chairs out of the way to make space on the floor for our yoga class.

The fact that we were starting at 3:00 pm when everyone seemed to be in their afternoon energy slump probably didn’t help their lack of enthusiasm any. As we went through the centering and warm-up portions of the class, that lack of enthusiasm was almost palpable. So before we headed into our sun salutations, I led through several rounds of the Breath of Joy.

The looks on people’s faces as I explained it were rather comical; they ranged from skeptical to downright disbelieving. Fortunately, everyone gave it try. After several of these breaths, I was no longer leading them through them, they were moving into each new breath on their own. When we stopped, I looked around the room, and every single person was smiling—some with big grins verging on laughter, some with small grins that seemed to be escaping their attempts to suppress them—but they were ALL smiling. I pointed that out to them, and they looked at one another with surprise and not a few laughs.

The energy shift this brought to the class lasted throughout the rest of our practice. As a group, the feeling shifted from lethargy to interest and enthusiasm. And I’ve never been so mobbed with people asking questions and sharing their excitement about a class as I was at the end of our session when we were putting the desks and chairs back in place. In fact, four people came up to tell me (with surprised but sheepish delight) that they’d fallen asleep in savasana!

Yesterday was the first time I’ve ever included that breath in a yoga class, but it definitely will not be my last. What a simple way to energize a group who is having a hard time getting focused!

And if you haven’t yet tried this breath for yourself when you need a bit of energy, I encourage you to give it shot. The instructions are simple, and the energy boost is wonderful. I bet you’ll find yourself smiling after a few rounds too.

A gratitude challenge

This time a year ago, I was in a really tough place. Every part of my life personally and professionally was in the process of completely falling apart, and I was having a very hard time finding much reason to keep going. Everything seemed hopeless, and I was feeling incredibly stuck.

On a whim, I decided to take on a challenge that someone had posted on Facebook to post one thing I was grateful for every day in November (with no repeats) to stretch Thanksgiving out to the whole month. That sounded simple enough, and I figured it might provide at least a little bit of goodness in my days.

It did do that, but it also did so much more. As I started watching each day for something new to be grateful for, I quickly found myself surrounded by things that sparked a rush of gratitude. They were, of course, things that had been there all along, but I had ceased to notice and appreciate them in the depths of my despair. My challenge slowly went from coming up with one new thing to be grateful for each day to choosing which one thing out of the many I had noticed that I would list for that day.

By the end of that month, I had reached a point of being ready to commit to making some major changes in my life. Changes that were hard, scary (terrifying, actually), and painful but absolutely necessary to get me unstuck and moving forward. I still had many dark days to walk through before things began to really get better, but it was that initial ability to start seeing what was still worthy of gratitude in my life that sparked enough hope and positivity to make it possible for me to choose the necessary changes and have the courage to see them through.

Now, a year later, my life is in so many ways completely transformed. Many of the changes, like the building of this business, are still in progress, and their ultimate success or failure remains uncertain. But I can honestly say that life has never been this good. I live my days now—even the hard ones (and those DO still exist)—with a underlying sense of joy and gratitude permeating everything I do.

And it all started by noticing things for which to be grateful. That’s it. Such a simple thing, but the effect of that exercise has been so amazingly profound.

Tomorrow is the first of November again. And this year I plan to again post one (unique) thing for which I am grateful every day of the month on my personal Facebook page. I have no agenda of expecting the kind of amazing effect that it had on my last year. I am just overflowing with too much gratitude to keep silent. It is my way of celebrating how far I’ve come.

Will you join me? Whether you are in the depths of despair as I was last year or living a life that is amazingly good, consider finding one thing to be grateful for every day this month. There’s just too much out there to be thankful for to reserve that joy for only one day of the year.