Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.
– Marianne Williamson
Point to Ponder:
When was the last time you experienced “foreboding joy?”
The next time things are going well, stop yourself from thinking or saying anything foreboding the negative, and instead simply be grateful for how good things are.
Has there ever been a time when life was going too well? Sounds confusing, I know, but isn’t it in those sweet times of joy — when family, relationships, health, jobs, etc. couldn’t be better — that we find ourselves having “Oh crap moments,” meaning that things are too good and it’s only a matter of time before our luck runs out and something bad happens? It is at that exact moment that we’ve actually stolen our own joy.
According to Brené Brown, this is called “Foreboding Joy,” which is rather than allow ourselves to fully cherish and appreciate those incredibly blissful moments, we subconsciously go to a non-joyful place (you know, the place where we envision something awful happening to the person or thing that is bringing us joy). This is the way we protect ourselves from getting hurt and becoming vulnerable.
Brené says, “When we lose our capacity to be vulnerable, joy becomes foreboding. We are afraid to lean into joy because we don’t want to be blindsided by vulnerability.” Meaning, we put the brakes on the joy we are experiencing so that we are not caught off guard and can prepare for hard and bad. But, here’s the great news — in all of Brené’s research, there is zero proof that we can emotionally prepare for these times. However, because these “Oh crap moments” are a part of human nature and even the most joyful and emotionally healthy and vulnerable people have them, when they do occur and they counter them with gratitude — i.e. “Thank you for this person, job, moment, etc.“- then they actually keep their joy!
I have to admit, I think this “joy epiphany” is monumental and it blew my mind the first time I heard Brené talk about it. She even went as far as saying that experiencing true joy is our greatest fear, and after hearing her explanation I get it! I in fact caught myself doing it just yesterday. When asked how my previously sick children were doing I said, “Much better, for now at least.” How ridiculous! I could not fully allow myself to experience the joy of having healthy children and was already preparing for the next round of ailments. Or, have you stopped yourself while feeling crazy joy during a vacation and thought or even said, “I don’t want to have to leave and go back to work, normal life, routine, etc?” These are examples of foreboding joy.
I hope you’ll join me in the “stop stealing your joy and start keeping it” quest. Seriously, can you imagine how much more peaceful, present and dare I say joyful we will be if we simply start practicing gratitude (even if it’s forced- hey, you have to start somewhere!) each time we have an “Oh crap moment” or even when dealing with the bad?! There’s no doubt that the universe gives you what you give it, and that what goes around comes around. So let’s think like a child — who never considers the bad — and get grateful and stay joyful. Great things will definitely emerge!