Nurturing Your Sense of Joy

Sense-Of- JoyIf you were going to boil down what a sense of humor is to one thing, the one thing you might consider is something we talk about but rarely understand in terms of what humor is, and that’s perspective. I often hear people say things like, “if you just had a different perspective or if you just had a different perspective.” That’s like saying to me, “if you were just 6 ft tall, you’d understand this and if you just had more hair, you’d be more comprehensive.”

Changing your perspective means going back through your entire life and looking at all the belief systems and elements that went into making up your perspective. It’s not a simple process. A sense of humor is a very particular developed sense of perspective that allows you to access joy even in adversity.

I’m not saying for you to laugh bad things off. I am not saying that you should ignore a problem and just start making jokes about it. I am saying pay attention to the problem, then, look at the positive side of it.

The idea is that a sense of perspective when it comes to humor allows you to see yourself in the scope of things rather than always at the center of things. We have a tendency as human beings to believe that any problem we are confronting and facing is the most important thing that’s going on in the entire world. It becomes the focus of our entire being

When you develop a sense of humor perspective you have a remarkable capacity to control how you see what’s going on around you. You can’t always control what happens to you but you can control how you chose to look at things.

Another aspect of sense of humor is to develop a capacity to take yourself lightly, even though you may take your work or problems very seriously. A sense of joy in being alive is an important component of the human will to live, but how do you go about developing it?

I often have my clients make a joy list. Take some time and write out the things that you enjoy doing but don’t have time for anymore. Things that nourish and sustain your sense of joy and being alive, that enlivens and strengthens your spirit so when a problem arises you can deal with it more effectively and making this list give you something to access when things are difficult and it allows you to be flexible.

The root form of the word humor is umar in Latin. It means to be fluid and flexible like water and that is indeed what humor is. It’s about being flexible so you don’t get broken by difficulties you’re confronted with, so that your creative mind stays open, so you can still come up with solutions even in difficult situations.

A joy list sounds real simple but it’s not. I’ve done it with thousands of clients and it’s amazing that when they start out most people are only able to write down three of four things and almost all of them start out listing their work first. There are only two reasons to ever put work on your list; if it makes you feel good or it enhances your sense of joy. Things that hurt you or other people should not go on the list. Remember this is joy list not a gripe list.

Take your time in making the list it may take you a few days or even a few weeks but be true to yourself. Investigate what gives you joy because in developing your list it will help you stay loose and flexible and that will help you continue to value not just yourself but other people as well.

Keep adding to your list, for example I currently have 180 things on my list and it is still growing. Don’t ignore the small things like going to a card store like going to a card store and buying humorous cards. This list will become a critical component in the development of your sense of joy.

Making this list will help you deal with the small things that aren’t big problems but tiny things that are always picking away at you. If you’ve got a big problem you see it and can deal with it but it’s the little things that keep sneaking up behind you and nipping on your neck.

Misery is not subtle. Pain is not subtle. Joy, humor and laughter are often subtle and you have to pay attention to them to start activating them in your life and in the people around you. For example, if you and your spouse both make a joy list you start to get a better idea of the kinds of things that are important and the kinds of gifts you can give that are meaningful to him or her, because so often we give people things that are meaningful to us.

A joy list gives you an opportunity to really start finding out about what the other person needs and joys are so that we can fulfill that person in the way they want to be fulfilled. Making a joy list forces you to pay attention to the things that make you smile, make you laugh, and make you feel a little bit better. It cultivates your sense of joy.

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