Finding Joy Again

Finding Joy Again

I lost my joy. ☹️

I’m blessed to be one of the happiest people I know. Even when bad things happen, I might get down for a bit but it never seems to last long. 🙏

My natural state is one of joy. ⭐️

However, when I got sick, I lost my joy. Why? Lots of reasons: I wasn’t sleeping more than a couple of hours a night, I had esophageal spasms every time I ate or drank, my vocal cords were damaged so talking was difficult, and my precious garden…my true happy place…was no longer a source of peace and joy because almost everything I was growing was no longer a food my body could digest. 

Yep. I was in Pity Party Central. Look, I have nothing against a good pity party…Lord knows I’ve had my share. What was different this time is that I didn’t see an end in sight. My party just went on and on. I was in a bad cycle. I wasn’t seeing friends and I stopped laughing. 

I had to find my joy, even when I couldn’t see it. I had to choose joy, even though I didn’t feel it. I’d love to tell you that I just started being more grateful and some magical switch flipped, and I was happy again; but, It didn’t work that way for me. 

I didn’t feel well and I didn’t feel like explaining it to anyone, so I just didn’t reach out to my friends. I stayed isolated because I didn’t want to wear a happy mask…you know…the “Instagram Mask” where everyone looks great and is having a blast. 📸

I realized I needed to start telling my friends what was going on and ask for support (not an easy one for me). I needed to be authentic, be me, and take off the happy mask.

Throughout this process, I realized that joy is a choice. Each day, I had a choice…I could choose to respond with joy or choose to respond with a bad attitude. In a stressful moment, how does one choose joy? Okay, I’m still a work in progress but here’s what I’m doing…

I made an effort to laugh. I know, that sounds odd but I made an effort to surround myself with joyful, funny people and situations. I would laugh even when something was only mildly funny, I would even ‘fake laugh’ when my husband told a silly joke. Fake laugh? Yes, it’s a thing and your body can’t tell the difference between a fake laugh and a real laugh, so when you laugh it releases loads of endorphins and other feel-good chemicals. 😂

I decided to choose a weekly activity that got me out of the house. I started with a 1980’s dance class. Next month, I start a tap-dancing class. 💃🏼

It is very easy for me to ‘stay in my head’ and think too much. But, the last few months have proven very clearly that the more time I spend thinking about my pain, the more I fixate on it. Learning to find joy through laughter, and my wonderful friends and family, has made all the difference.

So, my advice to others traveling down a similar pathway as I…

  • Don’t isolate yourself; stay connected to your community. 
  • People are like elevators; hang with the people that bring you UP, not down. 
  • Laugh at every opportunity. 
  • Guard what you see and hear. You don’t need to listen to news all day to stay informed.

Merry Christmas. Stay blessed. Be joyful. ❤️

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