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Discovering Joy:10 Lessons Learned

Joy Works Playlist Pick: Joy and Pain- Maze, Frankie Beverly

What does joy mean to you? What does it look like? What does it feel like? Over the past few years I have been intentionally working to discover the answers to these questions for myself. It's been a remarkable and awakening journey. How did it start? The fact is, I focus on joy because I've been in the depths of discontentment, anger, and sadness...not wanting to face another moment, let alone an entire day. I especially could not sustain my joy professionally. Like most, I tried different things to escape the negative feelings but at some point there wasn't another degree to earn, there wasn't another position that I wanted, and there wasn't anybody left to blame. I had to find the courage to take ownership and agency over my own joy and it's been quite the experience. I share some of this journey in my book, Joy Works: 8 Lessons for Educators. I hope that my presence, writings, and work encourages others on a journey through their own personal joy work.

I continue to learn about myself through this journey, and this helps me to focus less on others. My first and hardest lesson was that no one else is responsible for my joy. I would have to do the work of cultivating, exemplifying and sustaining it regardless of the role I was serving in as an educator. I spent so much time and energy focused on all the conditions and people that I thought basically made me miserable. I came across this quote by Mary- Francis Winters and it hit home, "Don't become too preoccupied by what's happening around you, pay more attention to what is going on within you."

There have been multiple layers to my journey. Okay, so there are the fun and exciting adventures, exploring myself and truly learning to enjoy my own company and love on myself through consistent self-care. That has been fantastic fun! Then there is the other part of the joy work...the healing. Not fantastic fun. Whew...the healing includes the deep work of reflection and building my skills to navigate challenges more effectively. For me that means never missing therapy...even when I don't feel like talking. Yes, therapy plays an integral role in my joy work. Also, there is the uncomfortable work of setting boundaries and choosing myself, or like I say, creating my own lane and minding my own little joyful business. You'd be surprised by how much we live for others and how difficult it is to shift.

Over the course of the next several months I will share lessons I've learned so far. I've captured 10 and will take time to go into each of them...not today...but in due time.

In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts about the role of joy in your personal and professional life. Are you on your own personal journey? What lessons have you learned? Leave me a comment or tag me in your reflection @joyworkedu.

I can't wait to connect.

Love, Dr. Joy

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