Drinking Deep Sustaining Joy
“I want to live my life without stress and worries. I don’t need to be rich and famous. I just want to be happy” a quote I’ve always loved, from Famous English Quotes. Most of us, if asked what we are in pursuit of, the most common answer would be happiness. Is happiness frustratingly elusive or could we be looking for it in the wrong places? Is happiness really the right thing to be chasing? What is the difference between joy and happiness and how do they affect our daily lives?
“Joy and happiness are wonderful feelings to experience but are very different. Joy is more consistent and is cultivated internally. It comes when you make peace with who you are, why you are, and how you are, whereas happiness tends to be externally triggered and is based on other people, things, places, thoughts, and events. (Psychologies, 2015)”
Joy and happiness are often used interchangeably but there is a profound difference between them. If you were to speak to a random sampling of people in our world today, you would get the gist of how hard it is to remain happy; there are rising rates of depression and other mental health issues. Many have lost touch with that ‘feel-good’ feeling, and not knowing how to cultivate it anymore, we have resorted to quick fixes such as drugs, alcohol, and addictive eating to get a temporary sense of reprieve from our colorless lives.
“Everyone seeks happiness, joyfulness, but from outside – from money, from power, from a big car, from a big house. Most people never pay much attention to the ultimate source of a happy life, which is inside, not outside,” Dalai Lama. “The ultimate source of happiness is within us. Not money, not power, not status…outward attainment will not bring real inner joyfulness. We must look inside.” (Rose, 2016)
Seeking joy is more favorable and valuable than aiming for happiness. Happiness is dependent on external factors whereas joy comes from within. Eating your favorite food or buying jewelry from your favorite store may make us light up and feel happy for a moment, but just like a butterfly, the feeling lands on us, then flutters away. Now, that is happiness; a momentary satisfaction, a good feeling. It is an emotional response to the senses and is subject to change at a moment's notice.
Joy is a deep feeling of contentment that is more enduring, regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in. “It’s wonderful to discover that what we want is not actually happiness. It is not actually what I would speak of. I would speak of Joy. Joy subsumes happiness. Joy is the far greater thing.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu (ProjectHelping, 2018). Frustrations and challenges may rob us of our happiness but not joy. One can maintain joy despite the challenges one may be experiencing. Well, then that begs the question, where do we find joy?
There's no quick ‘get-joy’ scheme. You have to put in continuous and regular effort. To begin the journey towards attaining what truly brings one joy, one needs to tap into their heart rather than their head. Quieting the chatter in your mind and creating space within allows you to listen more closely to what brings you joy (Psychologies, 2015). Practices such as meditation and prayer help you look inside yourself and lean into all that you are made of that aligns with spiritual resources that are ready to equip you for your next level.
When we cultivate gratitude in all situations, we tune into how our steps are being ordered. We tune into the opportunities to learn everything we are meant to learn for our highest good and for the good of others. Thus, it is important to look at things positively and with gratitude especially when they challenge us, as these situations help us mine everything we can from each assignment we are given and grow and build strength for greater responsibility and more impact with the next. Having an attitude of gratitude helps us face challenges head-on. The challenges become stepping stones rather than obstacles to attaining what we truly desire. Gratitude boosts our self-esteem, motivates us, and helps us bounce back from stress easily.
Joy will not come from getting a raise or buying your dream home. Joy will come from appreciating the much that you have in your life and looking at it with gratitude. As you begin to cultivate joy from the inside out, your life no longer becomes about what does or doesn't bring you joy. Joy becomes a more constant state of being. When you are more present and in tune with your inner being as it is being supported by spiritual realms, the simpler things in life become joyful; the air you breathe, the food you eat, and the people around you. Joy lives within you and is always ready to grow.
Famous English Quotes. (2022). Retrieved from Famous English Quotes: http://www.famousenglishquotes.com/i-want-to-live-my-life-without-stress-and-worries-i-dont-need-to-be-rich-and-famous-i-just-want-to-be-happy/
ProjectHelping. (2018, March 15). Happiness vs Joy: What is the Difference? Retrieved from Project Helping: https://projecthelping.org/happiness-vs-joy/
Psychologies. (2015, September 1). Better You. Retrieved from Psychologies: https://www.psychologies.co.uk/joy-vs-happiness
Rose, K. (2016). Part I: The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the Four Qualities of the Mind that Lead to Joyful Living. Retrieved from The Inward Turn: https://theinwardturn.com/part-i-the-dalai-lama-and-archbishop-desmond-tutu-on-the-four-qualities-of-the-mind-that-lead-to-joyful-living/
Martin Luther King: On Leadership
Sarah Hobson, Ph.D.
A very wise friend once told me that the secret to her strong marriage was one thing: she and her husband were for one another, no matter what forces sought to pull them apart.
The same holds true for a strong country and world. To succeed, we have to be for one another, no matter what, no matter what forces seek to pull us apart.
I moved to St. Louis at five years old from New York City. Instantly, I knew something was very wrong with this city and its surrounding counties. I dedicated my life to figuring out why races and classes were so divided.
In 3rd grade, Clayton schools desegregated. In 4th grade, I had my first black teacher, Mrs. Eaton. Eager to learn everything she knew about the world, I sat at her feet. I stayed after school and hung with her on a regular basis. I don’t remember what she and I discussed, but I do remember how I loved her. I remember her face and her watchful expression as we talked. I remember her raspy voice from smoking. More than anything, I remember feeling deeply loved by her. I knew she was for me. She knew I was for her.
Somewhere during that year with her, I wrote an essay committing my life to the path of Martin Luther King. I remember before I wrote the essay, distinctly thinking – I would rather be on the right side of history and lose than on the wrong side of history and win.
This is what I love about Martin Luther King Jr. In a world intent on teaching us to be against one another, he was for everyone.
He was for people, not for systems of supremacy or individual expressions of supremacy that perpetuate master-slave relationships within and across race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, or ability. “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools” (Martin Luther King).
He wanted change for all of us in every echelon of our industries, our places of worship, our communities and our families. He wanted us to see through the top-down oftentimes domineering leadership styles passed on from systems of slavery and from generation to generation. “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity” (Martin Luther King).
These leadership styles limit who we can be in our workplaces and our homes. They limit how we work together and construct knowledge together and how we relate to one another and tap into each of our cultural and personal expertise. They limit our abilities to interrogate the design of messaging behind every division. They limit our abilities to buck the tribes we rigidly think are the sole expression of our identities and to discover new pathways for making change together.
For Martin Luther King, leadership was about bringing people together in a unity that was not about uniformity in thinking but that drew out the varying perspectives in the service of better identifying needed change. “Unity has never meant uniformity” (MLK).
He advocated for people of all races and classes to join the Poor People’s Campaign. He advocated for America to pursue peace in Vietnam and surrounding Asian countries.
“We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.” (Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence).
He advocated for every person to invest in lifting those around them and thus society overall. "We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience." (MLK)
How will we become a society that sees through top-down leadership styles embedded through systems of supremacy that silence us or that we use to silence others? How will we become a society that sees through messaging that perpetuates scarcity thinking, competition and division? We start by following in Martin Luther King’s footsteps.
We start by taking a stance of learning with and from our teams, communities, and families, celebrating everything teammates bring. We start by creating room for anyone we lead to become leaders, lifting them up and elevating them to the places they naturally lead.
Martin Luther King set out to create visionary spaces for people to listen to and empower one another to use their differences in the service of making change.
He set out to break down divisions cast upon us by messaging intended on pitting us against one another – a continuation of the social design of owners of land, political power, and people who privileged some races, genders, classes, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, ability and more over others to ensure those with some degree of privilege protected their own small set of advantages and thus the ruling class’s power by keeping others down.
He set out to embody a commitment to being for every person he met – listening on spiritual dimensions for how to love people well and with grace and truth who bought into domineering leadership styles, tribalism and division, walking with them through confusing messaging towards deeper, richer more integrated relationships with themselves and with others.
This is the work of honoring ourselves, our stories, and those around us. We welcome you to learn more about this Honoring Stories and Integrating Curriculum™ change-making process here.
Are you biting off more than you can chew? Are you constantly feeling rushed, or did you recently feel like you are just existing, not living? Well, maybe it's time to slow down and smell the roses along the way. Slow and steady surely wins the race. Making small steps a day towards the betterment of your well-being might have a more profound effect than waking up one day and deciding to change your whole lifestyle.
What does taking care of yourself really mean? Contrary to popular belief, self-care isn't always about escaping and relaxing. It's not all about massages, manicures, and power walks in the evening. Yes, those can be and are part of self-care, but it covers much more than just pampering oneself. Selfcare is more of choosing to create a life you don't have to escape from and allowing yourself to be normal instead of constantly pushing to be exceptional (Cohen, 2021).
Well, self-care might involve tough and uncomfortable decisions like setting boundaries, challenging people, and saying no. Setting boundaries is crucial in establishing one's identity and essential to one's physical and mental health (Selva, 2021). Healthy boundaries help people define and reinforce their identities and help indicate what they will hold themselves accountable for and what they will not be responsible for. It's bound to give one anxiety, but it is beneficial to oneself in the long run.
Self-care can sometimes be putting yourself first above activities that drain you. It involves investing in activities that truly replenish you, whether that is journaling or reading, singing your heart out, spending time with friends, or investing in hobbies. It involves a process of identifying your own personal boundaries for how you prioritize self-care in your approach to doing your job or to contributing to your family and community.
It is being realistic and honest with yourself about what you are committed to and are able to invest in and what you are not. There may be life situations or life or work expectations you need to meet that exceed your boundaries. This requires good systems around your time and energy and pacing of these activities to ensure you can sustain self-care and keep moving forward on your personal goals.
Self-care can sometimes be putting yourself above people who drain you. It can entail reflecting on your personal and professional boundaries so you can better articulate them to others. It can entail identifying people you are able to invest in and build a relationship with because they respect and can hear your boundaries and you respect and can hear theirs. It can be identifying in each of your relationships that you choose to invest in where you need to more directly communicate your boundaries and create room for others to communicate their boundaries so you can see if you can find solid ground together that works for you both.
Selfcare is not selfish. You cannot pour from an empty cup, so you have to care for yourself to care for others. It is vital in building the resilience required to fight the stressors you cannot eliminate in your life. Self-care is your armor and ammunition when life hands you lemons. It's okay to break from your daily life and just breathe. Take that long walk home, get yourself that relaxing massage, or lose yourself in that exciting film. You can also sit with yourself and listen to your body and thoughts.
Self-care is all about living a meaningful and fulfilling life. It is about keeping your eyes on your prize, your purpose, what you feel most inspired to do and to bring to yourself, to your family and friends and to your community. It requires making time and plugging yourself into activities, rhythms and routines that help you sustain a life of thriving and that give you an overflow of energy to fuel your passions and your purpose.
Cohen, I. S. (2021, April 23). What It Really Means to Take Care of Yourself. Retrieved from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-emotional-meter/202104/what-it-really-means-take-care-yourself
Selva, J. (2021, 12 8). How to Set Healthy Boundaries: 10 Examples + PDF Worksheets. Retrieved from Positive Psychology: https://positivepsychology.com/great-self-care-setting-healthy-boundaries/
Self-Care in 2022 Part 2
January marks the first month of the year, and it's the perfect time to start the year right; out with the bad, in with the good. The start of a new year contains a lot of positivity, good energy, and good vibes. A new year equals new beginnings, and it brings with it new and countless possibilities. This year too, 2022, it will surely be so.
2022, hopefully, will be a dose of fresh air from all the illness, loss, job precariousness, and isolation that were a result of COVID 19. How about making 2022 about connecting with the self, personal growth, and self-improvement?
Self-care is working on yourself by ensuring you are healthy mentally, physically, and spiritually. It is not to be confused with selfishness and self-indulgence. While many of us have a lot going on in our lives, we must take time out every day to care for ourselves.
Amid an epidemic, anxiety and depression have drastically gone up. People feel lonelier, wound up, and face the tension that makes them get stressed even at the smallest of tasks. Self-care is part of the solution to better coping with the stressors in our daily life. According to google trends, the search for self-care has more than doubled since 2015 (Lawler, 2021).
As part of self-care, you sit down with yourself, ask yourself how you are doing and what your body needs. Our self-care routines are very personal, and what works for one person may not work for another. The best practice is to find what works best for you. Taking care of ourselves helps us put our best foot forward in all the tasks we may undertake. Even when not faced with a job, we are calm and generally happy. Self-care doesn't have to be expensive; it could be taking a walk, showering with soap with a scent you love, getting a manicure, or just sitting alone with yourself listening to your thoughts. Enduring self-care practices link to longevity and better health.
Part of the Honoring Stories and Integrating Curriculum™ is to hone in our personal stories. We use ethnodrama to guide our students and clients in reflecting on how they have formed their identities, cultures, and systems for self-care. They acquire powerful frameworks for their care, for civic discourse, and for socially just action. "We need to remove the stigma that being kind to and taking care of ourselves is self-indulgent or selfish," (Lawler, 2021).
Lawler, M. (2021, May 19). Selfcare. Retrieved from EVERYDAY HEALTH: https://www.everydayhealth.com/self-care/
Self-Care in 2022
Sarah Hobson, Ph.D.
Happy New Year! As we head into 2022, here is a question for you. What season of life are you in? As you head into this season, how do you reflect on previous seasons and what you have accomplished? How do you set goals and plan for what you want to accomplish and how you will do that?
Whether consciously or not, we often construct our lives by yearly, seasonally, monthly, weekly, and daily routines. Sometimes those routines are determined by the season of business or family we are in. Sometimes seasons of our personal and work lives correspond with holidays, weather changes, or months of the year.
Some of us have consistent and systematic routines for every season that we rinse, wash, and repeat. Some of us have routines that vary with each season and that shift according to new phases of our work or new activities we partake of, or new roles or responsibilities we acquire.
Wherever you are in this season of your family needs, education, career, or retirement, the question is – which aspects of your personal and work lives take precedence in how you create your life? Is self-care your starting point and a central focus in all you do?
In a recent Community Allies workshop, we took participants through the simplest core of the Honoring Stories and Integrating Curriculum™ approach. This approach ultimately helps organizations tap into, benefit from, and become an asset to a diverse array of people and communities. This agile approach helps teams systematically identify and make needed changes on teams and in departments that consistently yield better problem-solving and more innovation.
Individuals are central in the needed change, and one of the core elements of our approach is to hone in on our personal stories. As Mahatma Ghandi pointed to years ago, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” The change starts in each person who has effective systems in place that help them constantly expand their awareness of who they are, what they know, and what they offer.
We help people begin to identify how much they bring and do and to refine their process of tapping into more dimensions of themselves. We walk teams through collaborative processes that help people identify needed change in themselves and how they have organized their lives. Personal accountability and ownership of our lives is one part of the process of teams interrogating how they are constructing knowledge. It is part of the process of our organizations deconstructing how departments are working on their own and together to build communities that can keep improving and streamlining workflow.
To refine our personal lives such that we can be truly present to ourselves and to others and to a fuller experience of life in each moment, we have to be willing to examine the mindsets, systems and routines we personally use to prioritize and navigate each area of our lives.
In our workshop, we challenged participants to consider what it takes to live a sustained life of thriving, such that what we give to others comes from the overflow of our blessings, not from a cup half empty or hall full? And we took them through a process of tuning into how they already and might better factor self-care into everything else they do.
So, we ask you – as you head into a New Year – how are you prioritizing self-care? How do you even feel about the notion of self-care? If you have a negative perception of it, where does that come from? How much more present to yourself and to others might you be if you prioritized your self-care so effectively that you truly began to organize a life of consistent thriving? If you aren't already, what do you need to change in your focus, your life and your routines to move towards thriving?
Sarah Hobson, Ph.D. specializes in supporting teams, departments and schools, businesses, and government agencies in building inclusive innovative change-making communities who understand how to connect well with and join diverse populations in providing needed sustainable resources for all youth and families.