What if your job was to cultivate joy? In all seriousness, I believe this is in some way – I have yet to figure out how to quantify or qualify it – this is my purpose. My job is to cultivate joy. My purpose is to cultivate joy. I can still hear the words of RMIII echoing in my mind as he champions “you were built for this” to the community. I was built to cultivate joy.
Cultivating joy means living with intention to make decisions, engage in activities, build relationships, and ultimately make choices that bring about a sense of joy. Joy for me and joy for others.
I believe that when I am guided by intentions of cultivating joy, I find myself more receptive to others, and more receptive to the nature of my experience.
Receptivity to experience is not to be conflated with acceptance. Instead, it’s about being open to whatever unfolds. It means detaching from judgement of good, bad, or ugly, and becoming curious and kind.
For example, this happens to me a lot during meetings. I’ll find myself in a meeting and sooner or later start to notice that I’m uncomfortable. I might be leading the meeting with one or more students, and hear an inner voice of doubt and imposter syndrome sink in. Listen to yourself, you don’t know what you’re talking about. (notice judgement)
I might be participating in a meeting where my primary role is to listen. In these cases, I have noticed a pattern that I sometimes disengage from what others are saying. Instead of paying full attention, I might notice something else that’s happening in the room, such as power dynamics. I especially like to notice when there is a mis-match of agendas and expectations across participants. Why am I sitting here in this meeting? What do I have to bring to the table?
In each of these situations, I notice. How does this relate to joy? I notice the interactions and agendas that seem to have fewer opportunities for joy. I reflect on this, and learn how I can make changes in the future.
In meetings that I lead, for example, I can pause every time I notice inner dialogue in the form of judgement, and take a break. I can drink water, write down the idea, and come back to it later. I can openly express my discomfort and invite others in the meeting to reflect on it as well.
In meetings that I participate in, I can notice the sticking points, and draw them. I find drawing and sketching to be wonderful forms of releasing attachment to emotion. I can also move my body. I know that more often than not, meeting spaces are designed with tables and chairs. I also know that after a certain point, my body needs to move. Getting up and stretching, drinking water, walking around the back of the room, or moving my hand while drawing are all ways for me to work through discomfort.
Thus cultivating joy means noticing when I’m joyful, and noticing when I’m not. It means deliberately crafting opportunities for expressions of joy, and having strategies for releasing discomfort and tension. For when I am able to release that which no longer serves me, I open up. Spaciousness is necessary. Allow it to be, and allow yourself to grow.
How do you cultivate joy? What are you doing now that is joyful? If it’s not joyful, notice. Become curious and kind. And set an intention to seek out joy. Allow yourself to be surprised on where an intention of joy might take you.