Let's talk about joy today ladies! Because, it turns out that it's really good for you and for the world ;)!
"The Power of Joy – How the Deliberate Pursuit of Pleasure Can Heal Your Life" by Christiane Northrup is truly a favorite of mine! In fact, if life ever gets too heavy burdened with duty and work around here (and sometimes it does) or if I feel like we are getting into a boring, grinding rut (and sometimes we do), I put this CD in and listen to it, because I realize I haven't been scheduling in enough "joy" time for us! I've had the CD for several years now, but I checked, and the program is available on Audible! It's just over an hour long, but full of fun stories, laughs, fascinating scientific studies, and it builds a strong case for actively taking steps to create more joy in your life on a regular basis (oh, and gives you a 10 Point Prescription for how to do just that)!
I love Christiane's positive, cheerful spirit! She is what I will call a reformed Medical Doctor-OB/GYN, who now teaches alternative medicine approaches to life. I agree with her that it is not our destiny to get old, decrepit, and sick! Rather, we are meant to be" healthy, happy dead"! That's what we're shooting for, and it turns out that joy is one of the tools to live that way!
She first defines joy, and then shares the many benefits of joy: 1) it always brings out the best in you; 2) it makes you younger; 3) it increases DHEA the youth hormone and mother of all other hormones; 4) it enhances your immunity; 5) it improves your metabolism; 6) joy creates success [Side Note: Success does NOT create joy – it's the other way around); 7) it enhances your creativity and intuition; 8) it increases your serotonin and decreases cortisol and other stress hormones and helps you sleep better; 9) it increases nitric oxide and blood flow; and 10) it makes you irresistible! And, I'll just add my own thought here – joy is contagious, your joy can really lift the spirits of those around you!
So, here are some of the things that really struck me:
1. She starts off by explaining: "Here's what I know about life on earth. It is sexually transmitted." (crack me up J)! Life is created joyously and it is meant to be lived joyously! (Good point, Christiane! Good point!!)
2. Although it's our natural state, joy doesn't come easily for us in America because we have been raised on the "no pain, no gain", "finish all your work before you can play", and the "you're having too much fun" mottos! She calls this an "addiction to suffering", and says that because of it we've learned not to trust joy. But, thankfully, she points out, this old model is on its way out. Because in truth, pain only leads to more pain. It's actually joy that leads to more joy, and, it is joy that is going to change the world.
3. Joy is also difficult for us because of the survival mechanisms of the brain that cause us to ruminate on the negative. I've seen this in many other readings as well. Our brain is geared to remember painful, dangerous events to protect us from future harm. But, Christiane gave some stats that shocked me! We have about 60,000 thoughts per day, and around 87 percent of those are negative and repetitive – yikes! And, 99 percent of those negative thoughts are a gross misrepresentation of reality (so, ya know – not very trustworthy ;)!
4. Have you all looked at Masaru Emoto's work "Messages in Water"? It's fascinating, but true. Thoughts have quite an impact on the hydrogen bonds in water! Just google it to see photos of water that has received hateful, negative input (the formations are ugly, chaotic, lacking in balance and symmetry), compared to water that receives positive messages of love, joy, symphonic music (the formations are beautiful, like snowflakes, with gorgeous balance, harmony, and symmetry)! Here, let me find one for you because this is something you have to see! Okay, I found one (but, seriously, there are a lot more, so google it ;)!
(Photo 1 – "thank you"; Photo 2 – "love and appreciation"; Photo 3 – "you make me sick, I will kill you")
And, as Christiane points out, our bodies are 85 percent water! Perhaps Napolean Hill is correct in saying that our "thoughts have the peculiar quality of becoming their physical equivalents" – so we want loving, joyful ones!
5. There are two main motivations in life – doing/not doing things out of fear of consequences, and doing things because they bring you joy! The only sustainable choice for your health and well-being is to do things because they bring you joy!
6. She argues that chemical imbalances do not really exist, and explains that the best pharmacy you will ever find is between your two ears because every thought you think sets off a cascade of biochemical actions that go out to every cell in your body.
7. Her prescription for joy includes several things like choosing joyous entertainment and joyous company, and she points out that joy is not about avoiding suffering, grief and pain, which are a natural part of life. She reminds us that our experience of joy is proportional to the amount of suffering we've experienced! Here is more good news – our brains are actually changing all the time! It's called neuroplasticity. And, neurons that fire together wire together! So, the more you experience and savor joy, the more you connect those joy neurons in the brain, and the more you hard-wire those connections, the more inclined you are to experience greater joy – isn't that awesome? ;)!!
8. She encourages us to make a list of all of the things that bring us joy, and start putting those things into our daily lives! This will be a challenge, because we have that addiction to struggle. She said that if she was asked to do something fun, she had a million things that she "should" do instead – boy can I relate J!! But, joy is extremely important for our own well-being, and for our loved ones as well (probably more important than getting the floors mopped J)!!
9) It's always shocking to me when I reflect on what really brings us joy, and how little time we actually devote to it when our lives get out of balance (my husband and I were raised on the no pain, no gain, get all your work done before you can play model, but we're working on not working so hard and simplifying and enjoying life more ;)!!!
10) I was surprised just how interconnected joy is with gratitude – many of the benefits of gratitude I shared with you are the same as the benefits of joy. And, the gratitude journal is a way of really allowing the joyful things to sink in (yes, girls I'm firing and wiring those neurons ;)! I think back to my gratitude journal, because those are the moments where I experience real, satisfying, fulfilling joy. And, it's funny because they're all the simple stuff of life – cooking for my family, candle light dinners and date nights with my husband, one-on-one time with my kids (which is rare these days), spending time with Tate, creating new things and sewing, sharing here with you all on the blog and receiving your sweet comments, peonies blooming, watching the baby robins, a long, hot bath, a walk on a breezy spring evening, reading (an actual book with pages), getting out into nature and taking a hike or camping, bonfires . . . .
So, what brings you joy? If you're like us, and you get into a rut sometimes, or your life gets heavy burdened with too much work and no play on occasion, or even if you just feel like your life is lacking joy, I think you'll really enjoy this program!