Are You Limiting Your Joy?

Your happiness impacts your relationships at work as well as at home. There’s no hiding your emotions. We can all feel your vibe.

And if you’re limiting your joy, we know that too.

Happiness lights you up like a lightbulb. Your radiance can be easily perceived by just about anyone. The energy field of delight that surrounds you is palpable.

If people smile at you when they see you coming, that’s a clear sign that your joy is overflowing. Watch their faces when you’re in the grocery store or out for your evening walk. Even if they don’t talk with you, their faces will respond — often before they consciously think about it.

As you might imagine, this is a quality that will help you tremendously in your business or career. Limiting your joy is not.

Here is a clear sign that you are limiting your joy: when you are tired, confused, or anxious you will hear definite, internal criticism towards yourself as not being good enough.

This can take a variety of forms. It might be focused on your weight, your finances, or your ability to find or be a loving partner. That inner critic knows exactly what to say to get your attention and make you feel bad. It tells a lot of stories that prove its opinion. It can be ruthless.

In actuality, the inner critic’s primary job is to keep you safe. That’s hard to believe sometimes because it is so unkind. It does sometimes use unscrupulous means to get your attention. When you listen deeply, you will understand that it only wants to protect you from what it expects will be unwanted, undesirable change.

The presence of the inner critic shows that on some level you expect change to be bad (and therefore it should be avoided). That fear of change is what limits your joy. And there is another layer to the problem: an embedded fear of change produces change that is more likely to have negative consequences.

Furthermore, the fear of change produces a cap on the amount of joy you experience. Why? Because MORE joy causes MORE change (which the critic believes is bad and should be avoided). The inner critic disallows real change by making compromises. If you get happier at work, your relationship falls apart. If your housing situation changes for the better, your success at work begins to wobble. Growth in one area produces loss in another. If we had a joy-meter that measured the level of joy you allow yourself, you could easily see that the inner critic tries to keep you right at the level where you already are.

So if you want to stop limiting your joy, the first thing to change is your belief about change. Replace it with a belief that all change takes you somewhere better than where you are now. Start believing that change is good. Bring that into your mindfulness practice.

Real strength demands both flexibility about the means AND steadfastness of purpose.

Although change is good, that doesn’t mean that you have to allow change in every area of your life. You might decide to stay where you live when you could move. Or to hold onto that relationship when you could look for greener grass. The difference is that in these cases, you’ll be holding on to your current status quo not out of a fear of change but out of an authentic preference for what you already have.

The proof is in the pudding, as they say. To evaluate your methods, look at your results. Look at your level of joy and radiance. It will tell you everything you need to know. 

When change and no-change both bring you joy, you will have broken through your self-imposed limits and become free to experience all the joy you can imagine.

Let yourself try that idea on for a minute. It will be hard to go back.

To your success,