Three Steps Closer to Joy

c440a9e2b44af961537a793951457a65For the past month, I’ve chosen to intentionally live with more joy and purpose (even in the un-fun, too-tired, hard times). As part of my #31DaysOfJoy movement, I’ve challenged myself and others to think BIGGER and be more authentic (check out some of these examples on Pinterest and Instagram).

fb83fcaecf45fbbcc9c695da93c4024bI’ve learned how hard (and necessary) it can be to choose joy over comfort and control. I’ve realized that while joy doesn’t necessarily come easily, it reaps amazing rewards.

And most importantly, I’ve discovered the immense difference between experiencing happiness and cultivating joy.

Here’s a little more about my journey into joy and how it’s different than simply seeking happiness.

Cultivating Joy, Experiencing Happiness

Over the centuries, may individuals and great minds have contemplated the difference between happiness and joy. A simple Google search will leave you with pages of hits and thousands of results. So what’s the bottom line?

After choosing to live a joy-filled month, I’ve learned that the core of the question really boils down to where you place your power.

Do you base your happiness on the external environment and what your relationships and activities give you?

Or do you seek a deeper, internal state of joy that you can access regardless of what happens around you?

J2o4gAAACV0RVh0ZGF0ZTpjcmVhdGUAMjAxNC0xMC0yMVQwMzoxNDo1MC0wNzowME8qMGsAAAAldEVYdGRhdGU6bW9kaWZ5ADIwMTQtMTAtMTZUMjM6MjE6NDYtMDc6MDChy3dqAAAAAElFTkSuQmCCWhen you base your happiness on external things, you give your power away to circumstance and, ultimately, risk feeling unhappy or disappointed. Psychology Today writer Sandra Brown, M.A., shares that “Happiness is external…It is dependent on outside situations, people, or events to align with your expectations so that the end result is your happiness.” So if the end results don’t go your way (because you’re still human after all!), your happiness is at stake.

8a54216c82b3a6f89f42f9f49f3b9d88Now consider joy. Harder to explain, yet easily accessible, joy can be ever-present when you are in a mental, emotional, and physical state to choose peace over control. Brown continues, “Joy comes when you make peace with who you are, where you are, why you are, and who you are not with.”

Joy is the ability to rise above circumstance and failed expectations to realign with a deeper purpose and fresh perspective. Click to Tweet This! 

Lifestyle Guru and author, Danielle La Porte, puts it beautifully when she shares, “Happiness is like rising bubbles – delightful and inevitably fleeting. Joy is the oxygen – ever present.

Three Steps Closer to Joy

While accessing more joy in life sounds great, let’s be honest. People who exude joy can be downright annoying sometimes. Our annoyance factor is generally rooted in the fact that we just can’t understand why they are so positive. Their joy mystifies us!

So to help you begin your own journey to joy, here are three simple steps to try today:

9d0bbe1d5009c85cfea62524d08524f5STEP ONE: Slow down and appreciate life. Joy calls us into the moment. Instead of wishing, hoping, and even planning for something better, simply “being with” whatever is happening and finding the joy in the moment is deeply transformational. This month, I’ve learned the value of slowing down so I can more deeply appreciate the beauty of life and the gifts it holds if we notice and accept them.

db2c214743d56d67eedec979369ad0eaSTEP TWO: Make sense of your circumstances. While the people and experiences we encounter don’t always go as we planned or hoped, these moments offer invaluable opportunities to consider what really matters. These are the spaces that you can actively choose your perspective with positive intention, rather than become a victim to your emotions and gut reactions.

506427e9b4b84901918679d2d5fbe418STEP THREE: Tap into a deeper purpose. When you are connected to something bigger than what’s happening now, all the “stuff” that’s getting in the way doesn’t seem as big and daunting. Consider the purpose that grounds and guides your life and use these opportunities to refocus on what matters most. Combined with a greater appreciation for life and intentional perspective, you should be feeling more joy-filled already!

My #31DaysOfJoy

3128d76569dbaa84e62475b20f721ac6This month-long experience into joy has allowed me to cultivate a deeper sense of gratitude and personal strength, especially in times of frustration, doubt, and fear. To stay focused on choosing joy, I started making a list of the people, activities, and experiences that helped fill me with joy.

Leslie’s Joy List

  • Activating my creativity
  • Connecting with dear friends for a birthday brunch
  • Taking the time to walk to work
  • Interactions and smiles from strangers
  • Basking in sunshine
  • My yoga practice
  • Experiencing emotional intimacy
  • Taking milk and cookie breaks
  • Planting a herb garden
  • Eating fresh fruit
  • Donating used clothes to a women’s shelter
  • Hosting a dinner party
  • Washing my car (and feeling blessed to have a car to wash)
  • Listening to live music
  • Celebrating with dear friends and family
  • Feeling our tiny baby move inside of me
  • Realigning my business with my values

d68e8e6dc459a6f79838564ea126d04cWhat’s on your JOY LIST? Start keeping track of the moments that hold deeper meaning for you and how they help you access more joy in your life. I’d love to see what you come up with and invite you to share your favorite joyful activities with me via email or on social media.

Create a great day,

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Leslie Bosserman, M.Ed., CPCC

Leadership Coach & Culture Consultant
Call: 310.409.9240

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#31DaysOfJoy

Last week was full of celebrations: Turning another year older, learning that our baby is growing strong and healthy (and finally learning the gender), and enrolling a handful of new and talented clients, among other blessings!

One of my favorite birthday memories was a surprise from my husband, Joel, that wasn’t your typical present. You see, Joel likes to create unique and memorable experiences that are far more meaningful than receiving a physical gift. 

It all started on Saturday night with a stack of neon cards and a late-night trip to Target…

As part of my birthday surprise adventure the next day, Joel had asked all our family and friends who were with us at dinner to choose one object and one action, then write them down on two different cards.

IMG_9039Later that night at Target, he handed me the cards and $40 and simply said, “go buy the supplies you’ll need for tomorrow.” That was it. Confused, but intrigued, I set off to fill my cart with everything from bubbles to sidewalk chalk, a crazy hat, and even a Skip-It, still not entirely sure what we were doing.

 The next morning as we walked back from brunch, Joel finally revealed his master plan: “We’re going to turn McKinley Park into an interactive board game.” While this isn’t your typical Sunday afternoon activity, the challenge excited me and we set off with our supplies in hand and did just that!

IMG_9042Starting in one corner of our neighborhood park’s mile-long perimeter, we drew a giant START sign on the sidewalk and then created our first challenge – count your steps to the next marker and do that many jumping jacks wearing the crazy hat! And then for the next few hours, we came up with creative actions and thought-provoking questions that the average park-walked might not typically encounter.

Beyond this being an epic way to spend a day, I’m sharing this with you because one particular activity we included turned out to have a deeper significance and made the whole adventure worthwhile.

One of the objects I had purchased was a small kids journal from the movie Frozen that had Queen Elsa on the front (if you have not seen or heard of Frozen, then you likely don’t have kids or small nieces or have somehow managed to escape the Disney madness!).

IMG_9061On the sidewalk leading up to the journal, I had shared the following:

We all have some pretty bad days…

And some pretty hard times…

Then next to the journal, I simply wrote, “Write your fear here and then let it go!” (Again, if you don’t get the Frozen reference, click here for some insight).

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While Joel and I were finishing chalking up the park and meeting many friendly strangers, this one-dollar journal started filling up fast! By the time we had finished creating the game and went back around the park’s perimeter, we were surprised and humbled to find the journal now filled with some very honest and vulnerable fears.

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These responses reinforced something profound: People need to be genuinely heard.

We need – and crave – space to share what’s inside that’s scary, frustrating, and unknown. Much like Queen Elsa in Frozen, we strive to keep it together on the outside, only to explode if we don’t have a place we can be real, vulnerable, and authentic.

Take a moment to think back to the last time you were really honest about something hard or scary. Maybe even something you felt shame or blame around. We typically don’t share these things with others (or even acknowledge them consciously ourselves) because we don’t want them to define us. Yet keeping all of this inside has consequences.

This journal was symbolic of this safe and neutral space to share, acknowledge, and release.

On the walk back home, one man stopped us and asked us if we were the ones who had made the park so “fun.” Smiling, we nodded yes and he shared how much he appreciated stumbling across it that afternoon, especially finding the journal.

He said this with so much joy and power. He had embraced the true meaning of what we aimed to create, and then made it his own.

Isn’t this what life is all about?

Striving to leave the world a better place in any way you can.

Sharing small gestures and words that bring greater joy and fulfillment to yourself and others.

Making time for conversations with strangers whose lives have been touched.

Creating space for others to be heard, loved, and valued.

To me, this was the most important birthday gift I’ve ever received.

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#31DaysOfJoy

To capture the essence of this birthday adventure and pass it on, I decided to dedicate the month of March to sharing and spreading JOY in my local community (#31DaysOfJoy).

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I’ve been taking photos of things that bring joy to my life and writing more inspirational and thought provoking quotes in chalk all around Sacramento to see what others have to say. You can check them out on Pinterest or Instagram and post your own with this awesome hashtag: #31DaysOfJoy to spread the love throughout March and beyond!

While this isn’t a global movement (yet…), I believe that when we extend our creativity into our community, it makes all the difference. I’ll be sharing more about what I learned from this month-experiment in a few weeks so stay tuned. And in the meantime…get creative and spread some JOY this month!

Jump Start Your Journaling

PromptClub1Need a writing boost? There’s still time to register for PROMPT CLUB 2015! This new 8-week journaling course runs March 29th – May 23rd, and registration is open through March 20. Learn more about the course and sign up here!

And for an opportunity to win a FREE pass for PROMPT CLUB, visit promptclub.com and leave a comment about what journaling means to you or share a personal journaling story. I’m honored to be one of the interviewees for this course and hope you can join us!

It’s A…Baby BosserMAN!

Comic Book

We are excited to share that we just learned we will be having a baby BOY this July! While Joel’s X-Ray vision is pretty good, the doctor did a second ultrasound to check on a few things and this time, the gender was obvious! Thanks for celebrating with us and we’ll keep you posted on Baby BosserMAN updates!

Create a great day,

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Leslie Bosserman, M.Ed., CPCC

Leadership Coach & Culture Consultant
Call: 310.409.9240

Subscribe here to stay connected!