Learn how to generate more joy in your life.

Learn how to generate more joy in your life. What does joy feel like? Does joy feel the same for you as it does for me?

These are questions that crossed my mind one rainy afternoon when joy seemed distant and a wishful thought.

I want more joy in my life, so I wondered if, within reason, or even independent of it, I might set an intention to feel joy whenever I wanted.

If I asked you to describe what joy feels like… could you?

At first, it seems an easy query, but, for me, when I asked myself this same question, I paused. Did I truly know what joy felt like? I certainly believed I knew what sorrow felt like, so joy should be easy to describe… it’s the opposite of the crushing weight of sorrow. But had I paid attention to what joy felt like for me? I wasn’t so sure.

Words are important and useful. They portray and elicit deep emotion—but an embodied sensation is personal… and too often, missed or ignored… and existing at the peripheral of our forgotten awareness. Yes, I said forgotten awareness—meaning this: we forget to be aware—we forget to notice what emotions feel like because we’re often too busy being highjacked by our endlessly chattering minds.

We forget to take notice of how emotions feel in our bodies. And if we forget to notice, how will we know when we’re feeling the seemingly more elusive ones, like joy? Increased joy isn’t an impossible wish. We just need to learn to be present for it.

We each have different stories to tell. The embodied experience of our sorrow and joy is unique. I can’t tell you what either of these emotions feels like for you. Sure, I can guess. And I might even find words that seem like a good fit. But why guess when each of us has the truest answer within us? I’ll leave it to you to describe how joy feels for you.

Here’s my description of how I embody joy (while I am mindful that the feeling is ever-growing):

The wonder of joy feels like the rising of warmth in my chest, sometimes bringing gentle tears to well in my eyes and a calm spread of a smile to my lips.

Joy feels like soft shivering from my belly, a gentle trembling near the hollow of my throat, and a wash of tingles and goosebumps caressing the surface of my skin—like I’m re-experiencing a childlike presence.

Joy is a curiosity and clarity of mind that translates into a feeling of being lighter than a feather, as if I’m floating, my limbs no longer weighed down by gravity.

My senses become heightened. I hear more crisply and see more vibrantly, noticing the tiniest of details, the brightness of color—as if I’ve become an explorer in a new world.

My lungs expand more fully and smoothly. I sense the air moving through my body akin to drinking a glass of cool, fresh water, filling me like an elixir, grounding and steadying me as new in every moment with no need for conclusion or anticipation.

I’ll pull from my description all the words I used to describe joy as a physical sensation:

  • The rising of warmth in my chest.
  • Gentle tears well in my eyes.
  • A calm spread of a smile to my lips.
  • Soft shivering from my belly.
  • A gentle trembling near the hollow of my throat.
  • A wash of tingles and goosebumps caress the surface of my skin.
  • Being lighter than a feather.
  • Floating limbs are no longer weighed down by gravity.
  • Senses become heightened.
  • Hear more crisply.
  • See more vibrantly.
  • Lungs expand more fully and smoothly.
  • Air moving through my body like drinking a glass of cool, fresh water.
  • Grounded and steady.

And here are the words from my description I used to describe joy as a cerebral experience:

  • Wonder.
  • Childlike presence.
  • Curiosity and clarity.
  • An explorer in a new world.
  • New in every moment with no need for conclusion or anticipation.

Now that I’ve paid attention to how my body and mind feel when I experience joy, through ongoing awareness, joy is no longer a distant and wishful thought.

Learn how to generate more joy in your life. What does Joy feel like?

It feels like an extension of me.

Here’s a link to the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh. His life’s work is truly healing for all.

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