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An ode to Joy

Joy is a disrupter, it brings connection and self-worth. We find meaning in experiences of joy.

It’s such a powerful antidote to our stress, pain, anxiety, sadness. The release of dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters in our brain, give us the experience of joy. We can seek out this release, we can look for ways to include more joy in our lives.

We often assume we’ll be happy when our circumstances change or we have money, but we can find joy in the simplest of things. I love watching the joy both of my adult children experience from music. The styles are very different, the artists and the meaning they each assign to the songs and lyrics so different, but it moves them emotionally, makes them feel joy, layers their identity.

I find joy in beauty, in nature, the local fresh produce market, the wattle tree down the end of our street that is about to burst into yellow blooms. My girlfriends and I send each other ridiculous memes every day. These are all sending messages to my brain to release the feel-good chemicals I need to feel happy, safe and grounded. Exercise releases these too. I have a non-negotiable relationship with movement. I walk, ride my bike or do yoga every day, I do deep belly breathing or dance around my bedroom to an energetic drumbeat! I know I won’t be ok without these.

Movement is probably the most powerful answer there is to depression and anxiety. It shakes us out of our funk and floods our system with release. You can trick your body into joy by changing your posture – sit up puff your chest out, punch your hands in the air and smile wide. It tells your body, hey, we’re moving, something good is happening.

Connect with others. Co-regulation, or finding comfort from other people can bring us joy, make us feel like we are seen, that we’re loveable. All these and so many other levers can give us ‘glimmers’ of hope and wonder. Glimmers are the opposite of triggers. Something sparks in us that makes the lights go on, we see clearly, we laugh, we have energy, there’s possibility all around.

Stay open to glimmers.

In my email that goes out tomorrow, I’m going to start writing about the Vagus Nerve and how vagal toning, simple things like humming and different types of breathing, can affect our whole body and experience of joy.

You can sign up here.

Seek out some joy today.

Go gently.

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