Couple of years ago I went for a holiday in Miami. It was going to be a fun packed week with my girlfriends going to the beach, art shows and galleries, enjoying shopping and good food. I had been working on my startup relentlessly for months and long hours but wasn’t getting any traction and needed a break.
However, I didn’t feel I deserved a break because I had not produced any tangible results. I was looking for a permission to feel happy and thought I was going to get it from the things I had achieved. It was like I had cheated myself onto this trip because I had not earned it.
This thought of deserving my holiday struck a chord with me and made me think what my holiday was all about. Was it about a reward or was it about enjoying life? Was it about proving my inner critic that I was worthy or was it about embracing life with all it had to offer? Was my week going to be better if I’d beat myself up for not being enough?
I remember longing for the feeling of relaxation and being in the moment I had experienced, funnily enough, when my twin boys were small and we had visited Miami. I had not put any expectations on myself other than being a mum and therefore I didn’t have to deserve my break at the time.
What had changed? Why did I need to earn my happiness?
I wanted to be fully present in the moment and get that feeling of free flowing joy without any strings attached.
I decided to treasure things that bring me joy but are seemingly useless.
And that week in Miami I painted my nails every day with a different colour nail polish to match my dress. Every day I’d change my nail polish to manifest the joy it brought me and fight my practical inner critic who was telling me it was a complete waste of time. Simply focusing on the joy helped me stop to thinking if I had deserved my holiday or not.
When we are children we are able to just enjoy life. That joy is not linked to achievement, the size of our bank account or how many hours we have worked that week. We simply experience pleasure of being alive.
“Joy is probably the most difficult emotion to feel. When we lose the ability to be vulnerable, joy becomes something we approach with deep foreboding. This shift from our younger self’s greeting of joy with unalloyed delight happens slowly and outside of our awareness.” Brené Brown
So why do we forebode joy?
Expectation of a struggle and a reward.
We expect that life is a struggle. We feel in a strange way safer when we struggle than when we enjoy ourselves. We expect struggle but think there should also always be a reward.
So if you work hard all day you must reward yourself with something. Connection and presence doesn’t happen when a person doesn’t work for her purpose but for a reward which is something ‘outside’ of her truth.
“I really should not be enjoying myself until…”
Naturally nothing gets done if you are just having fun. But that kind of joy is not real, it’s procrastination.
Believing that hard work must be compensated may result in giving yourself unhelpful rewards such as a piece of chocolate cake that will leave you feeling even worse; or buying something you can’t afford but think you have deserved.
Struggle linked to a reward is a real mindset hazard because it keeps you away from a present moment. When you work for a reward your mind is in the future and when you get the reward it’s difficult to enjoy it because you are experiencing the past.
Allowing joy to flow freely has a direct link to feeling worthy.
I remembered the Miami story this week as I went to Royal Ascot wearing a ridiculously amazing hat (see a picture of the hat here). I enjoyed the seemingly useless hat, the company of my friends and the atmosphere. Had I worked hard enough to deserve it? Who knows and to the hell with it! But I could afford it so I would do it.
You don’t have to deserve joyful moments. I’ve finally learned I’m worthy of joy regardless of my achievements.
It’s ok to feel joyful.
You don’t need anyone’s permission to have fun.
If you can afford it, you can do it.
When you live in your truth you can enjoy any moment – be it hard work or abundant joy.
Ladies, let’s have a joyful week. What seemingly useless things will you do this week to increase connection and presence in your life?
Follow your joy, embrace it, be it!