I was sitting on my back deck on Saturday night, letting the dogs out for the bedtime ritual. It was just about 9pm and it was a beautiful night. The sounds of the neighborhood started to float my way and I heard some kids playing. There is a Syrian family that lives behind me and I know that they have three little kids. Is there anything better than the sound of kids playing? I couldn’t make out what they were saying, wouldn’t have understood even if I could because we don’t speak the same language but it didn’t matter. Kids playing is universal. Joy is universal.
It also happened that while I sat outside I paused for a moment to reflect on the attacks in London. Three attacks in as many months. People enjoying their lives and being brutally attacked. How can this keep happening? How can I be sitting here listening to little kids laughing and playing and knowing that people will never see their loved ones again? How can such joy exist at the same time as so much pain?
I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know the first thing about how to stop attacks or terrorism. I do know a thing or two however, about how to make the world a better place. That’s right. I know how to change the world. I used to watch Oprah in high school and think about how she was so amazing and how I too wanted to change the world. I wanted to have the scope and reach of this incredible woman. The other side of that is that I believed I would never have the scope and reach of her and that realization overwhelmed me. How could I change the world if I wasn’t Oprah?
The desire to change the world has never really left me. I still want to impact, teach and influence people. I want to help people heal. I want people to experience joy every day. I have learned that I don’t need to be Oprah to change the world. I don’t need a massive platform or a ranch on Maui. I started to change the world by doing the work that I needed to do to find healing for myself. I healed the belief that I could never do it right unless I was the same as her. I healed a lot of beliefs that held me back from living the life I wanted.
What happens when you heal yourself? You can’t tolerate pain or unhappiness or anger or uncomfortable shoes any longer. This is how you create a revolution. You begin to make changes in your own life and that immediately impacts the world around you. As you start to heal, you raise the standard of happiness not only for yourself but also for the world around you. I believe that this is the work that we all must to in order to make any real and lasting change in the world. When you can no longer tolerate negativity and you trade it for positivity, when you take responsibility for how you are showing up and you get utterly honest with yourself, you can create a revolution. This is how you experience joy every single day.
A Joy Revolution
I would like to take it one step further and invite you to not only create a personal revolution with your relationship to yourself but also create a joy revolution. I believe in the power of joy. As I created healing in my own life and in my relationship to myself, I became aware of the joy that exists every single day. It is always around and you can tune into it at any point.
- Seek the Good – I do not advocate sticking your head in the sand and ignoring the happenings of the world around you. However, become conscious of those things are starting to weigh you down. You can limit the amount of negative information you consume. Hide the negative nellies on social media. I don’t watch the news three times a day like I used to (who needs to in this day and age). Seek the good. The bad news is everywhere and is very pervasive, but so is the good. You may have to dig a little but if you start to look for it you will find it everywhere.
- Connect – You can live your entire life in distraction hiding behind the screen of your phone. Ask yourself: Is this making me happy or is it seriously compromising my neck health? I meet the very coolest people simply because I make eye contact and smile. It is extraordinary really. There is joy in connection. Connect with your loved ones, your friends, random strangers at the grocery store. Pay attention to the world around you.
- Talk to little kids – They are some of my favorite teachers. They can connect you to joy faster than anything else I have ever done. Little kids remind you not to take yourself so seriously. They also teach you about the power of imagination and creation. There is joy in that. There is joy is dropping into the world of little kids. I often think about the experience of those Syrian children playing just behind my home. What they have seen and experienced and knowing that despite it all, they can play and laugh and share that unknowingly with me.
- Laugh – this seems like a no-brainer but I wonder how often you truly tune into the utter joy that comes with laughing. My husband and I had a golf lesson yesterday and we laughed so much with the pro, to the point where I thought I was going to get in trouble for laughing so hard at a fancy golf course. It was so freeing and I am certain it improved my swing. All the way home, we remarked on how much fun we had. Having fun and laughing just because is an instant connection to joy.
- Be present – When I am truly plugged into joy and experiencing it everyday, it is because I am firmly rooted in the present moment. I am not obsessing about anything at all, not what is coming next or my schedule or to-do list. I can feel everything: the hot coffee, the yoga pose, my husband’s touch, my labrador’s insistent nudge that I pet him. Wake up to the joy that exists right now.
Lean Into Joy
Let me tell you, joy is not complicated. We tend to use our powerful minds to over-complicate it or push it away by thinking it is a destination that you must travel to. Joy is happening all around you, you simply must tune into it. Don’t wait for joy to find you and don’t think joy is something you must wait to experience. Go out and seek it and create it. This is how the world becomes a better place. You don’t need a stage or a million followers on Instagram to change the world. You start exactly where you are at this very moment. Find a way to heal, open yourself up to joy, pay attention to it in the present moment and watch your entire life change. Make your world a little lighter and brighter and you will create ripples of joy. That is how you change the world.