This newsletter, Finding Your Joy, is a daily reminder of how to practice your joy.
Need more joy in your life?
Start your day with a little love letter about how to find your own joy.
When you subscribe to this newsletter, you’ll wake up to reminders of how to practice the seven steps to finding your joy.
What are the seven steps to finding your joy?
Glad you asked!
Name your joy.
Calm your system.
Move in rhythm.
Create the habit of joy.
Practice, practice, practice.
Change your mind.
Start to thrive.
Each day of the week, I send out something to help you practice those steps.
Why should we have to practice joy? Doesn’t it just arrive?
This isn’t a culture built for joy. We’re taught that earning millions and manic productivity are the keys to success. More, more, more — we must do more. That lie is a big part of why some people are so divided and tribal these days, online and in real life.
It’s not your fault if joy doesn’t come easily to you. It’s possible that no one taught you that you deserve joy.
But how do you practice joy?
Waking up to a reminder of these seven steps toward joy every morning is a good start.
Finding Your Joy is a daily newsletter about joy, from Shauna M. Ahern.
I’m Shauna — a writer, teacher, and lifelong believer in people. And I know that practicing hard-won joy — the you joy you choose in spite of coming from a hard place — is a brave and radical act.
I built a huge online community through my food blog, Gluten-Free Girl. My husband and I taught culinary getaways in a villa in Tuscany, appeared on The Food Network, and won a James Beard award for one of our three published cookbooks.
Certainly there were moments of joy all along the way.
And yet, I never could relax enough to fully enjoy it.
I lived life at a run and constantly second-guessed myself. My daily to-do list was three yards long and I felt disappointed in myself every night because I hadn’t crossed those 36 tasks off my list.
(Pssst….That was never going to happen.)
I worried about not making the New York Times bestseller list or enough money. My system was fueled by anxiety and the drive to do more and more and more.
After suffering a mini stroke in 2015, I realized that my body was talking to me.
Change your life.
I found the courage to start telling my true story — a life of jangled nerves on high alert, plus crippling doubt and self-hatred after enduring a traumatic childhood.
This led to my memoir, Enough: Notes from a Woman Who Has Finally Found It.
As I wrote in ENOUGH:
“It’s a complicated story, as every human story has always been. We were loved. They did the best they could. There were hours in that house filled with soundtracks from musicals, early Charlie Chaplin films projected on the living room wall, episodes of I Love Lucy and Julia Child. Our home was filled with books. My parents helped us with our homework. They played Free to Be You and Me on the record player. There were baseball games and family trips and lots of Polaroids of posed moments of happiness.
But there were hours every day that were dark with dank screaming and nights of no sleeping. I never knew which hour was next.
I spent my entire childhood tensed up and listening intently, waiting for the first barking comment that meant we would all descend.”
After I finished the manuscript for that book, my doctor diagnosed me with PTSD from my adverse childhood experiences. I committed my entire self to healing from that toxic stress.
And I found one habit that brought me more peace than any other.
Finally, after years of therapy and writing and healing, I knew I deserved joy.
But my capacity for joy was about 3 minutes long, then the worrying kicked in.
Studying everything I could about the brain — the limbic system, the rhythm of regulation, and pattern recognition — showed me that I could learn how to have more joy, the same way I once learned to drive a car or put together sentences.
I looked to the people who inspire joy in me, then realized they had all struggled with something mighty difficult in their lives.
The power of this hit me.
Practicing hard-won joy — the joy you choose in spite of coming from a hard place — is a brave and radical act.
So I practiced. I felt awkward and fumbling at first. But I kept practicing. The brain responds to practice.
Over time, I calmed down my system and created a more joyful life for myself.
Today, joy comes first in my life. Every day.
I’ve never been so at peace as I am right now. My capacity for joy is enormous.
And now, I want to share the path to that practice of joy with you.
There’s a way to slow down and treat yourself with more kindness.
And that’s where you come in.
Let’s practice our joy together.
When you subscribe to Finding Your Joy, you’ll receive a brief love letter in your inbox every morning, illustrating one of the seven steps to finding joy.
Shauna will send you tips, clips, and tricks to calm your life and increase your capacity for joy.
What kind of tips? Specific ideas for how to practice your joy.
Tricks? Choices you can make to bring more calm to your life.
Let’s face it — after these last few years, we could all use more joy.
Through joy, we can change our lives.
“Discovering more joy does not, I’m sorry to say, save us from the inevitability of hardship and heartbreak. In fact, we may cry more easily, but we will laugh more easily, too. Perhaps we are just more alive. Yet as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather than embitters. We have hardship without becoming hard. We have heartbreak without being broken.”
—Archbishop Desmond Tutu
That’s what Finding Your Joy is about: a path to more joy, so you can live a more relaxed, loving, and compassionate life.
You’ll wake up to an email about joy every morning.
You’re invited to join the Sunday morning conversations about hard-won joy with Shauna on Zoom.
You’ll get to participate in the Finding Your Joy book club.
You’ll get exclusive news and the first chance to sign up for upcoming workshops and events.
You’ll find a community of people who want to practice hard-won joy.
You’ll receive two emails a week.
You’ll get details about upcoming events and workshops with Shauna before they go live on social media.
Here’s to finding your joy!