What role does joy play in your life?
When I was diagnosed with cancer for the second time, I suffered.
I suffered a lot.
How could this happen to me? Why was I always “the sick girl?” Why did I have cancer when my friends were building careers and families?
I was so full of fear and suffering that it was impossible to be happy.
Then I discovered joy.
Joy is different than happiness. Happiness is more straightforward than joy. It is easier to embrace and define.
I am sure that if I asked you to share what makes you happy, you could fill many pages with stories of bike rides, summer adventures, fabulous trips, and other pleasurable activities.
Joy is so much harder to explain. It is what helps us thrive during difficult times instead of simply survive. Joy creates purpose in the middle of pain, because it is something that is easy to share no matter what we are enduring.
Joy is a gift everyone needs—whether they realize it or not. A life saturated in joy can make even the worst circumstances manageable. I found solace in making room for joy, and it was joy that carried me through my second cancer diagnosis.
In times of crisis, it can be difficult to feel joy. But joy is always there, whether you know it or not—even in life’s most difficult moments. If you can recognize joy, then you can make room for it too.
What does joy look like in the middle of adversity? How can joy bring hope to your darkest times?
In my new book, Make Room for Joy, I introduce a useful tool: the Joy Quotient. The Joy Quotient will help you identify and evaluate how much joy you’re experiencing each day, regardless of what is going on in your life. It’s both a scale and a process that helps you figure out where you’re at and where you’d like to be, not to mention how to get there.
On a scale of 1 to 5, the Joy Quotient lets you get real with where your joy stands at any given time:
1. No joy. The world feels dark and I feel hopeless.
2. A touch of joy. If you stop to think about it, I know it’s there, but it’s hard to recognize.
3. A flash of joy. This flash keeps appearing regardless of what I’m doing or feeling.
4. Hope-fueled joy. I am turning my face toward hope, and I feel grounded and rooted in joy. I am consciously emptying myself out of unresolved fear and bitterness to make room for joy. Here, I am experiencing peace even if the world around me is noisy.
5. A generous joy. I’m bursting with joy and want to share it! I know what I believe in, and have faith that my joy will continue to be full. I don’t have to hoard joy, because the more I spread it, the more intensely I experience it.
This scale is your guiding light every day as you move through life. To help yourself stay grounded in making room for joy, check in with yourself every day:
1. Figure out what, right now, could increase the joy in your life. Don’t overthink it. Joy is alive and ever-changing. What you need today, won’t necessarily be what you need tomorrow. Maybe today you need to make space for gratitude, or perhaps if you are physically exhausted, you need a power nap and a moment to pause.
2. Take those steps to make space for more joy. Be active. Seeking joy is not a passive pastime. Create an action plan each day that will help you evaluate your level of joy and increase it as needed.
Chances are, over time you will find that the process of checking in will help you move up the scale and feel more joy on a regular basis.
Of course, there will always be times when your level slips or hits rock bottom: that is part of life. Just keep checking in and following these steps. It’s not always going to feel easy, but easy is overrated.
Making space for this self-reflection every day creates room for joy to flourish in good times, and bad. The more you practice recognizing joy the more it shows up without you having to go searching for it.
Are you ready to increase your joy quotient and pivot toward hope?
Let’s challenge each other to spread joy every day. Start now and let the transformation begin.