You’re a superhero — you came through the hard place.
Welcome, warrior. You’ve made it this far.
But you still have a problem.
Your body still believes you’re in that hard place.
You work too hard, trying to be productive all the time. Or, you try to please everyone around you. It’s 3 am and you’re turning over the pillow again, thinking this time you’ll fall asleep. Your name isn’t even on your to-do list.
You don’t know how to have fun.
In fact, the idea of laughing loudly scares you.
I understand. I’ve been there.
Let’s practice our joy together.
I also came through a hard place. And over the last few decades, I’ve learned how to change my mind, through understanding the traumatized brain and body, the rhythm of regulation, the nature of life-changing habits that stick, and opening my life to more silliness.
I’ve had a lot of professional success in my life. But my deepest definition of success now is living my days free of worrying, hurrying, and hurting my own life by doubting and thinking I’m not good enough.
Practicing my joy has changed my life.
It can change yours too.
It’s time for you to start thriving.
Oh sure, you look competent and maybe even confident. So many people think of you as the strongest person in the room. You’re always there for whoever needs you, with a listening ear and maybe some muffins. You fill your social media feed with thoughtful posts about how to better the world. You’re the last person anyone would suspect is struggling.
But inside, you’re crumbling. You haven’t slept well in years. You don’t know how to stop working so hard or giving so much. In fact, you’ve never known how to be anything but strong for everyone else, since you came from a hard place. You were taught that your feelings came last.
You want to have more joy and relaxed days but you keep waiting for them to arrive.
You’re holding off on joy until everything else is crossed off your to-do list.
It’s time to put yourself first.
Here’s something we don’t acknowledge enough: joy is hard.
Joy requires vulnerability. To fully feel joy, you have to let go of your fears and the imagined response of other people. You have to let yourself look silly. Be ridiculous. And stop worrying that you’ll end up on someone else’s TikTok video when you decide to roll down a hill again, like you did when you were a kid.
And maybe, like me, you never did much of that silly playtime joyful activity as a kid.
Because you were never allowed to be a kid.
So, you don’t even know how to have fun. You don’t know how to stop being productive all the time to feel worthy. You haven’t laughed so hard you almost cried in years. Or, ever.
Let me help you practice your joy.
I want to help you find your joy.
What will you receive when you sign up for this newsletter?
Each week, you’ll receive a story from me about a time in my life that I doubted myself, then came through that time and place to find more joy.
Or, it might be an essay about a little moment of delight, a moment in time where I dropped everything that blocks my joy and simply existed, feeling grateful, feeling alive.
I also send out stories of other people who have come through hard places to find joy. Those might come in the form of video interviews, recorded conversations, books I recommend, movies that help me to understand more, and other people’s art that was created in sorrow and joy. (Here’s a hint. They work together.)
After all, as Joan Didion wrote:
We tell ourselves stories in order to live.
I write stories in order to understand my own life. It’s who I am.
If I’m not writing something real, something I’m discovering as I write it? Then it’s not true. And in my mind, that’s not worth sharing.
You’ll be receiving the kind of writing I might have once reserved for books.
So, you’ll be receiving stories about joy, about why it’s hard to allow ourselves joy, and what steps you can take to find your joy. I want to hear about you, your stories, your moments of delight.
Joy matters in this world. We all need more joy right now.
Let’s do this together.
All the photos in this post were made by the amazing Elise Giordano. She’s a joy maker too, just like me.