“Joy is the lack of lack.”—Jessica Jesse, CEO, BuDhaGirl
BuDhaGirl CEO Jessica Jesse reminds us that when we place our attention on the richness of life rather than what we believe we lack, joy naturally emerges. The Jewish diarist Anne Frank also understood the power of this inner shift. After a life of hiding during the Nazi occupation, she wrote, “I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.”
Joy spans our emotional repertoire. We can be overjoyed or joyless. We can bring joy into our relationships or be a killjoy. But what does joy have to do with wellness at work and in our daily lives? Everything!
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT JOY?
Joy is a feeling of great happiness. It is described as delight, euphoria, radiance, abundance and gratification, all rolled into one. And, for such a small word (only three letters!), it packs a big punch when it comes to our health and wellbeing.
Let these ideas inspire joy within you and help you multiply joy for your family members, coworkers and entire organization.
Consider a moment that brought joy into your life or work. Maybe you closed your eyes to savor the music at a concert. Or you watched a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis. (Enjoy this wondrous experience here.) Or you took your lunchbreak outdoors to absorb the beauty of the world around you. In every instance, joy is an effortless, direct experience arising from within that is part of our shared humanity. Across genders, cultures and generations, everyone is capable of feeling joy.
A toddler can find joy in the most unassuming of acts—shaking a rattle or just gazing at a picture. So, why do we often lose our connection with joy as adults? We fall into a routine. We forget to play. We become solely focused on beating the competition, achieving results, and getting tasks done, rather than appreciating the fullness of our lives and the world right now. We create workplaces designed to manage human energy, rather than unleash human potential—the potential for creativity and meaningful contribution at work along with a life of vitality, fulfillment and joy.
Moments of joy in our daily lives help us reduce stress and bounce back from adversities. Joy is linked to the wellness of our immune system, circulatory system and lifestyle overall as well as our longevity. Plus, joy slows the deterioration of our physical health. When we jump for joy, we boost the chemistry of brainpower as well as the growth of our nerve connections, ability to analyze, attentiveness and mental productivity overall. By consciously tapping into joy, we access a powerful psychological resource to empower our flourishing, productivity and growth.
Joy and relationships go hand in hand, too. The Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the world’s longest studies of adult life, found that while genes and lifestyle behaviors influence our health, a better predictor of health is relationships built on satisfaction and joy. To boot, joy is contagious. It positively pulses through our social networks of friends, family and neighbors as well as our online communities in a global emotional synchrony. By sharing joy, we amplify wellbeing in others as well as ourselves.
IT’S TIME TO EXPERIENCE JOY
Deep within each of us is an impulse toward experiencing joy. As a leader, here are strategies you can apply to cultivate joy at work, at home, and in your community:
• Commit to joy. Since joy is an internal state of being, it is available in every moment. Money, ambition and external things won’t bring joy about. But, your commitment to finding joy will. Set an intention with your family, neighborhood or work-team to make joy part of your ways of being. Include joy in your shared vision of thriving and success. When you decide to open to more joy in life and work, scarcity diminishes and wellbeing grows.
• Relive joy. Start your next meeting at work or meal at home by asking each person to recall a moment of joy. You will get to relive these happy moments, and notice the positive energy, connections and wellbeing this simple activity generates between members of your family or team.
• Look for joy. Delight in a child or pet at play. Relish in someone else’s good news. Get inspired by the strengths and gifts of others. The act of witnessing joy lessens your stress and complaints, plus joy is catching. By looking for it, you will likely find yourself experiencing it, too.
• Design for joy. Our staid workplaces are often killing us. Bright colors, beautiful curves, abundance and natural beauty are universally joyful. How might you redesign your workspace with joy in mind? Check out this TED Talk on specific design strategies to support psychologically-safe, healthy and joyful environments wherever you work.
• Share joy. Add a message of joy to your next email, town hall meeting, social media post or advertising campaign. Reach out to others—a member of your board, a customer, a life partner—just to say something positive. Invite people across your organization to bring moments of joy into how they connect with others inside and outside work. Sharing joy increases joy; build on this generative cycle of wellbeing.
Share Your Commitment
Post a photo of how you or your organization is celebrating joy during the week of the full moon (October 9–16) with #wellnessmoonshot. We’ll spread your inspiration to others!
Wellness at Work Initiative, Global Wellness Institute
Mental Wellness Whitepaper, Global Wellness Institute
Wellness Meets Happiness, 2018 Global Wellness Summit Trends Report