Joy is a Shared Emotion

mariah-april-joy-at-wedding_n
The author and her daughter share joy at her son’s wedding.

Imagine picking up your best friend from the airport.  You have not seen this friend for 2 years due to a move and work obligations.  The first moment you see her your eyes and face light up and her face does the same thing.  This is joy-“we are glad to be together”.  When I feel joy and show it on my face to people I know, they often catch the joy and return it to me which makes me feel even more joy. Back and forth the nonverbal communication flows, building joy.

According to Dr. Daniel Siegel (The Developing Mind), joy is the human brain’s preferred state.  Our brains grow and develop best when our default emotion is joy.  Babies and caregivers spend hours a day smiling and cooing at each other, building joy.  Rest and quiet (peace) is also a necessary ingredient for growing, healthy minds. Babies and parents take a break from the joy building by looking away from each other and taking a few breaths to rest.  Then they are ready to engage in eye contact and joy building again.

Joy Starts Here: the Transformation Zone by Wilder, Khouri, Coursey and Sutton is a great handbook to learn about joy and how to develop more of it in your life.  Many homes, schools, workplaces and churches are low-joy environments.  This group of writers has a desire to spread joy in these environments so that people can grow healthy identities and improve the world around them.

Dr. Jim Wilder and another group of authors (Friesen, Bierling, Koepcke and Poole) wrote a book before Joy Starts Here called The Life Model: Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You.   It is a book about ideal states of human development.  The Life Model also promotes joy as a healthy state of being and gives some simple ideas about how to start joy in your world.  I often share this list of ideas with my clients found on page 12 in The Life Model.

  • Building Joy
    1. Smile whenever you greet those you love.
    2. Use a warm tone of voice, particularly when you are saying “Hello” or “Goodbye” to them.
    3. Ask them questions that invite them to tell you how they are doing and listen to what they are saying without correcting or advising them.
    4. When you get to the end of a discussion do whatever you can to end it positively.
    5. Before you fall asleep at night, make every attempt to get to joy from whatever feeling you may be stuck in.
    6. Use touch whenever appropriate: Hold hands, link arms, give hugs, and stay connected as effectively as you can.

    7. Give people you love little surprises that will cause their eyes to light up (these can be inexpensive or free gifts, too, like flowers from the garden or yard.  Or a poem you wrote for them.  Or their favorite brand of chewing gum…..).  Let your eyes light up too!  The joy builds as the glances go back and forth.

Linville Counseling Services therapists would love to help you build your joyful identity. Give us a call to schedule an appointment to develop a new strength in your life.

What are some ways you share joy with the people you love?

-April Linville

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