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This simple change helped me gain confidence + live more fully

Last August, 2020, I scheduled a healing session. I was feeling pretty lost at the time.

During that session, I was asked “when’s the last time you experienced joy? Like, really experienced it?”

I couldn’t answer. In fact, I burst out crying.

The truth is, from early 2018, I had been struggling. I had made a huge career change at the beginning of that year which had me struggling to focus on anything except work, and eventually had me struggling financially. Later that year my brother was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He was living in Los Angeles at the time and I eventually helped him move back to Upstate New York, where we grew up, to be treated there. The next year and a quarter were a rollercoaster of emotions. Six months after he was given the cancer-free green light, my mom was diagnosed with Breast Cancer which happened to be during the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. I was far away from home and this time couldn’t just scoot back to help out because the risk of traveling home and exposing my loved ones with lower immune systems felt too great at the time.

On top of all that, I was in a relationship which took until last August to admit out loud was mentally and emotionally abusive. A really good friend shook me awake.

That’s how I wound up in a virtual healing session.

I don’t tell you all of this for pity -- that’s not the point and quite honestly, all of the above is life, the timing was just shitty. Really shitty.

I say this to set the stage.

I couldn’t answer when I had last experienced joy because I really, truly hadn’t allowed myself in a long time. Don’t get me wrong -- I had happy moments. I had joyful times. I took breaks from all the life-like things that were happening. These joyful moments were so few and far between because I mentally wouldn’t allow myself to go there. The moments that were happier or more joyful would be tied up with guilt or shame for doing so.

After I was asked this, something really, truly clicked in my mind. You CAN experience joy despite crisis. You’re allowed to and, in fact, it might even be the thing that helps you survive.

From that point on I made a pact with myself to put one thing per week on my calendar that I really, truly enjoy. The catch was it had to be a weekday -- a moment to switch my perspective from my problem solving mind in work, health, family, family health, worldly problems and relationship to JOY.

Sometimes that looked like a post work paddle board or hike, sometimes that was dropping everything to watch the sunset without my phone, sometimes that was making myself a really great meal from a new recipe, not to be confused with checking the box of meal prep being done for the week. Sometimes that was taking myself out for a meal at a favorite lunch spot, sometimes that was reading after work instead of chores, sometimes that was taking a drive up the coast -- something I’d usually save for a weekend.

That catch is I must connect with the present moment and FEEL it. Knowing it’s MY moment really helps, too.

I’ve tried to stay consistent with this practice of scheduling joy in since last August no matter how busy I am and no matter how big or small the joy may seem. I’ve seen a huge difference in myself and quite honestly this practice has not only brightened my light which had dimmed significantly, it’s also been helpful in regaining the confidence I had started to lose in myself, which I learned is common in a relationship like the one I had found myself in.

There’s courage in remaining focused and facing life and all of its shadows head on. There’s courage in doing the WORK. But what’s all of that work for if you don’t get to enjoy life, too?

How about you? How are you REALLY doing these days? Where could you allow yourself to experience more joy in your day to day instead of waiting for that vacation, or waiting until you’re financially stable enough to, or waiting for you or your loved ones to not be suffering? How can you tap into joy now, despite the weight of the world? Despite crisis?

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