I wrote about the importance of joy in this blog post last year. Joy feeds our central nervous system. We can call it bliss, playfulness, deep satisfaction, being in “the flow”, but the vital component is that we feel we are part of something bigger than ourselves, a feeling that we are contributing to or benefiting from a well of good feeling.
As I am getting to know my clients and coming to understand how their bodies tick, I often ask the following questions: “How is your body feeling today?” “How is your partner/family/pet?” “How is work going?” “Where are you finding joy in your life? How do you like to play?”
As I was asking a client those questions last month, he asked a question of me: “Why is it that people don’t ask about play instead of work, like How is your play going?” What an excellent question. Why don’t we ask each other about our joy? “Hi! How is your play going? Tell me about a joyful part of your day!” I love that idea.
What would that be like if we greeted each other with joyful experiences? What if it was cooler to talk about the amazing nap in the hammock, an hour of finger painting, a glorious walk in the sun with the dog, or even a joyful discovery at work. Too often the conversation is about how hard we are working, how busy we are, the pile of to dos that never gets completed.
I know that in my family some of the reticence to talk about joy was superstitious. My relatives would look around furtively if they shared a personal joy, their eyes downcast and voice lowered as they said, “I finished a painting” or “My article got published in the neighborhood paper” or “Look how nicely this shawl turned out.” Braggadocio was fine because it was just about appearances, but legitimate joy was terrifying. If God knew you were happy, then hard times were on the way. Or worse, the neighbors could curse you with envy (a legitimate spiritual malady throughout many cultures.)
Today I hope to spread my joy, not hoard it to myself out of fear. (I have tools to protect me from envy.) And I have started asking people outside of my office, at parties and meetings, “How is your play going? What is bringing you joy today?” I love the conversations that ensue, the joy we generate together.