July 13, 2020

Why Joy is the most Radical Thing we can Choose Right Now.


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Choosing joy is the most revolutionary thing we can do as human beings living on the planet right now.

I realize how Pollyanna this must sound to some people, especially if you’re like me and struggling these days. So please, hear me out.

Because I’m not talking about that flimsy “good vibes only” bullsh*t, or any other kind of toxic positivity that requires us to push down anything that’s uncomfortable and put on a happy face.

I am also not talking about joy as divine perfection and blissful enlightenment.

I mean the raw, messy, off-key singing, ugly dancing, laugh-too-hard at ourselves, bittersweet kind of joy that can only be found in human life on Earth.

I’m talking about staying open to those inspiring, badass moments of delight during a time when we’re pushed to the edges of what we believe we can handle.

I’m referring to the kind of joy that is only available to us when we are in muck, mindfully and wholly. When things feel so sh*tty that all we can do is surrender and feel sh*tty.

This year has certainly not been a time of emotional neutrality. As a highly sensitive person who tends to feel absolutely everything, the emotional intensity of this year is no joke. There’s a lot to process. Maybe, dear reader, you feel the same way.

I’m going to be real with you. My general emotional state these days fluctuates between irritation, dread, and exhaustion. I, like others around the globe right now, am going through the motions of a world turned upside down—my personal world, and the literal world we live in, which is shifting and pushing us all out of our respective comfort zones.

My pre-Covid, familiar routine has been replaced with something that at times feels a lot like monotonous hell.

I am a single parent feeling the constant whiplash that comes from simultaneously working from home and parenting. My nerves hurt.

There isn’t a lot of “fun” happening around here. All of my summer travel plans were canceled. I miss my family that lives in another state, and crave their support these days. I thirst for adventure.

I’m not going to lie, I can be pretty damn pathetic and have been throwing myself regular pity parties. Sometimes it takes every last ounce of willpower to not lose my goddamn mind.

I do my best to stay mindful of all this though—I can say this for myself. I do my best to show up fully for my life each day and maintain perspective, that this too shall pass.

With this said, there are also days when I feel an unfamiliar sense of spaciousness for no reason at all. These days, these moments, come unexpectedly and usually catch me off guard with the weightlessness they offer.

Music hits differently, I dance, and for a little while, I feel like things are in their place. I notice this, fully. It’s a gift.

It’s joy. 

It feels easy and available. It does not magically make challenging feelings disappear. Instead, joy allows me to feel a sense of presence and okay-ness with what is—it’s all-inclusive. It’s a feeling of wholeness.

When joy arrives, I feel human and alive, with integrity. It reminds me to stay with myself, to not abandon myself in the face of discomfort and inconvenience. It emphasizes that all is allowed here.

It’s empowering, and yet humble.

Joy doesn’t need a reason to show up—it is not a response to the outside world. It shows up within the spiral of feelings, not outside of or in spite of it.

I believe such joy helps us to appreciate and have compassion for the infinite spectrum of the human experience. It allows. It shows us what is possible while helping us stay grounded in the reality of what is here.

It reminds us to trust, even when we control very little.

It encourages us to take a break from our personal pity parties while shedding light on the ways in which we are all connected through challenge and heartache. It invites us to celebrate this instead.

It reminds us that everything in this world is fleeting and temporary, including itself. We cannot cling to joy; we can only move through it when it chooses to visit. Joy reminds us of the consistent impermanence of life.

We must be brave to receive it.

We can only meet joy as far as we’ve met ourselves. The further away from our comfort zones we are willing to go, the more available to joy we become.

This is why joy is the most radical thing we can choose right now.

If we want to be revolutionary and make a difference this year, let’s flirt with joy. Let it take our insecurities, uncertainties, and self-pity for a ride. Allow it to steer, if even for a minute, and let it humble and inspire us to begin the true inside-out change this planet craves. 

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