How’s it all going for you? Are you feeling full engagement with your life?
Have you, like me, found that one of the main impacts on my life with the series of lockdowns and constantly changing rules and advice from the last 2 years has been a reduction of a feeling of joy and the ability to engage. Engagement is a real problem.
The two are often linked as well, aren’t they?
Let’s look at each and here and this blog is my own attempt to reframe and in doing so refuel myself in both experiences.
Joy is one of the 10 positive emotions sited by the author of the book Positivity, Barbara Fredrickson and as a positive emotion it can be part of our overall sense of happiness. This sense of overall state being achieved, she has found, with the winning ratio of 3:1 to any negative emotions life gives us.
The book explains that because of this powerful piece of work that if we both seek and recognize these emotions on a daily basis, we will feel the positivity we want to have, and this can lead to a happier existence. It all makes sense that the experience of enjoyment is thus an important one and as humans we need to spend a moment defining what that is for us and to allow for it.
What exactly is joy? In the dictionary it is defined as a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. But I prefer the description of just the singular state of joy explained so well in this book where she describes that we feel joy when ‘’we feel bright and light’ and when “colours appear more vivid..” …and “there’s a spring in our step”.
It makes sense to me that if we know what it feels like we can also find and create joy. We know when we have it and so we can seek those moments. And as life full of joy is generally a happy one there’s a good argument that it’s all worth the time taken to find it.
One thing for sure is that it this joy is ours, we feel it and we all have our own unique version of it.
We feel joy in our body as our brains experience the release of neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. These are micro transmitters that act like a messaging system, not only helping us feel good but also positively impacting our whole body. This state is very good for us, it improves our immune system, helps us reduce stress and injury and is linked to a longer [as well as happier] life.
Excitement is a close emotion and can get confused with joy, but it is important to point out the difference. Excitement tends to be an emotion triggered by external world and through the senses and does not last long. It can become something we seek over and over. Joy on the other hand is an emotion created internally and is attached to a sense of deep satisfaction and often attached to the state of flow.
Our body and mind can also work together to help create this state of joy. Going for a walk in nature, petting a dog, taking a photo of a sunset all can activate this brain state.
You can seek it.
So next question is, what brings you joy? How can you find it? We all know the times in the past when we have experienced it and its good to reflect to enable us to seek these moments now.
It usually a combination of approaches and as suggested by the motivational coach Tony Robbins including using gratitude, finding our purpose, surrounding ourselves with positive people, using mindfulness, keeping to health-based routines, using a positive posture, and applying the law of attraction. If we build up in these areas joy will spill over into daily life.
I big part of your engagement and enjoyment is led by your intuition. For a better understanding of your intuition check out my blog here:
Enjoyment, how much do you have in your life?
Consider making a list of all the things that have brought and bring you joy – don’t hold back – write it all down! This can include all the people, the actions, the environmental factors all big and small that bring you joy. It could be colours, objects, activities, people, animals, places. It all counts. We feel it.
One thing I have noticed is that the more engaged I am with my life the chances of joy are far more likely.
So, what is it about engagement? Not the sort that ends in marriage or a dinner party! No, what I am meaning is the state of ‘being in gear’, or of ‘having an emotional involvement or commitment’ to something or someone. Another word could be flow. First described by the American-Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Flow is a state of complete engagement by and with ourselves in the activity in which we can get lost in time and space and without internal distraction or self-talk distracting us. Compared to the superficial experience of excitement, joy in this state is more intuitive and resides within us, as opposed to be created outside us like excitement. We express joy from within us not from the outside world.
Engagement has been challenged as a concept in our lives to keep going at full capacity in the pandemic, as many of us have been pulled away from each other, the office, and from the routines we needed to feel connected and engaged.
It’s important now to proactively build this back up again.
Lots of science is also emerging regarding the health impact of disconnection and with it, disengagement. It’s a very important ingredient in a healthy happy life and along with enjoyment needs to be sought and created.
We can seek engagement at various levels. With ourselves, with others, with nature and with work, local communities, our larger society, globally and I believe also spiritually connecting to a bigger power in a universal sense.
When we seek to engage with ourselves, we can begin by reflecting on what brings us flow such as a hobby or activity. We can use our bodies with stillness, mindfulness and meditation, with making music or singing, and with movement like dancing, swimming, or running.
Engagement is a hugely powerful force for good. Not only does it give an individual the chance to feel positive emotions like joy and happiness, it also helps in an office or company setting to build team cohesion and retention. Work is more meaningful and the outcomes in terms of performance, growth and quality of the work done is better, staff are happier and more productive, more creative, more respectful of each other and take more responsibility. Engaged people also collaborate well and are generally happier and healthier at home in their lives too.
To Enjoy more
- Let go – yes – let go and feel that rush that this state can offer us! Let go of expectations, of immediate and end goal, of other’s opinions. It’s a fun place to be. Trust the process.
- Smile, a big, huge grin if you can muster it up! The evidence is showing the brain can pick up the feel-good chemicals of a smile however it is created. Start there and build. Seek smile inducing memes, pets, quotes, faces, one-liners, comics and so on – seek the smiles!
- Practice gratitude – choosing this attitude can help us filter better to find the joy even in the smallest things. Find the time, and the time will pay you back many times in terms of the longterm impact of this practice.
- Plan it out – do a google on events that would create joy for you. Whether it be going to a garden centre and then potting up a bunch of flowers, or window shopping and then trying on your most favorite shoes, just do it!
- Buddy up. Find a friend who is also low in enjoyment, hatch a plan, do a road trip, have a picnic, find a new path to walk. Doing it together is fun all on its own! They may come up with some novel ideas you’d never even thought of. Novelty is fun.
- Surprise!! – yes go and surprise someone by doing something they’ll love – a bunch of daffodils, a freshly made soup, a homemade card.
To Engage more
- Start with you – engage with you. Spend a moment now taking one deep breath…………..
how was that for you.
Do it again … and again. Feel your ribs rise and fall. Listen to the breath going in and out.
- Listen. To your inner voice; sit and spend some time as of watching and listening like a good friend would. Now say something nice you yourself like “Whatever is happening right now I am here, and I am with you. You are doing ok “
- Listen to others. Really listen. We have 2 ears and one mouth to remind ourselves that we need to listen twice as much as talk. Tell them you are listening and then let them talk. Allow silence. Connect and engage.
- Speak your voice. Give yourself permission to say out loud what you need to feel engaged. This could be at work or school. Put your hand up and engage in the conversation.
- Engage with your local community. This could be as simple as picking up litter in the local park all the way to offering to help to put the chairs away at a special event or volunteering at a regular club.
- Engage in the world. Be present with the planet we inhabit, the seasons, other countries, and the people that you may know far away. Become aware of the global events that matter to you. [Avoid watching or reading the news without clear intention and boundaries, as this can in fact have the impact of disconnecting us from our lives by creating anxiety].
Book – Positivity – B Fredrickson
If there is anything you have read anything within this article that you are struggling with please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Enjoy your day, look after your body, look after your family and remember you are all a tribe!
Bye for Now
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