Freeing Yourself to Express Feelings of True Joy
Always jump in the puddles! Always skip alongside the flowers. The only fights worth fighting are the pillow and food varieties. ~Terri Guillemets
When is the last time that you really “let loose” with a full-fledged belly laugh, a happy shout out loud or jumped for joy?
Okay, so maybe you aren’t feeling quite that much joy at the moment in your life … things aren’t necessarily bad mind you, just not great enough to holler about.
Hum. Is that really what’s happening or could it possibly be that over the years you’ve buried your capacity for exuberance and numbed your inner child to the ability to truly feel and express joy out loud?
As children we are born excited about life, filled with anticipation and pure joy … everything is new and each discovery amazing. We squeal, laugh and shout out our exuberance for all to hear just how excited we are about life.
But that gradually changes over time as we are repeatedly told to be quiet and calm down because our behavior is embarrassing and disruptive. As we continue to mature we are socialized to believe that outward expressions of excitement should be contained and managed to an appropriate level.
Have you ever been out shopping and seen a child jumping and shouting after discovering something new only to have an adult rush in and tell them to calm down and be quiet? Portrait of a child learning the lesson that it is not acceptable to openly express joy and enthusiasm in public.
And so it continues until somewhere along the way to adulthood the ability to experience, let alone express out loud, true joy is effectively stifled to the point it no longer feels natural or comfortable.
No doubt about it, life can feel awfully serious a lot of the time.
Even when we consciously endeavor to give ourselves permission to let go, it can take a fair amount of coaxing to relax into that playful, spontaneous, inner child-like space that is so natural and yet can be so difficult to hold.
In the spiritual sense, your inner child is your real self, the self that you were born with … pure, innocent, and joyful. What we call ‘growing up’ usually contributes to the submersion of this self. Every day the child learns about fear, suspicion, doubt, hatred, anger, envy, sorrow, embarrassment, and all those emotions that over time scar our hearts so deeply that we assume they always existed. The true self goes deeper and deeper, until it is covered by so many layers that you can barely feel its presence.
Freeing yourself to express your feelings begins by understanding the nature of joy.
The words joy and happiness are often used interchangeably, and while they do share some characteristics, it’s important to understand that there is a significant difference between the two words and emotions they elicit.
Happiness is based on external circumstances – in other words, when things go well, when you have a good day, you get a raise or you buy a piece of clothing or other item you’ve been wanting, you feel happy.
Happiness may warm us, but it is joy that creates the fierce heat of emotion that takes our breath away … it is that WOW experience of just being alive that as children caused us to squeal with sheer delight. We experience it during intense moments such as when we achieve a significant goal, overcome a particularly challenging obstacle, feel connected with others and part of something special, and see the beauty in our world and in those we love.
In other words, it doesn’t take having a lot of stuff or money, or a big house, or influence … anyone can experience true joy in life.
It is also an absurd fallacy to assume, as many do, that the ability to fully experience true joy and the energy of life is a characteristic limited to the young and automatically slips out the back door when adulthood knocks at the front. There is an infinite amount of joy to go around. The only obstacle to placing it within reach exists within our minds.
So, the next time you find yourself experiencing a joyous swell of emotion followed by a sudden urge to just let loose, try resisting the urge to stifle your ‘inner child’ and let your energy and joy flow naturally … it’ll feel awkward at first and that’s okay. Becoming more aware of your feelings and emotions is a good thing and outwardly expressing joy will feel more natural over time.
Life with honest and joyful enthusiasm is just so much more fun and rewarding. And who knows … you just might become a role model for others!
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