Ep 64: [ENCORE] Increase Your Capacity to Feel Joy

Part of being on this earth is to feel and experience joy. When we feel the full spectrum of emotions, including negative ones, we increase our capacity to feel more joy than we are currently feeling right now. This is the fullness of life that God wants us to experience.

This episode is for you if …

  • You find yourself pushing away  emotions that you think are silly
  • You wonder when the “shoe is going to drop” because things feel really good 
  • You reach a goal and immediately move to the next one without celebration
  • Deep down you are uncomfortable feeling joy so you dismiss it

Learn the steps to increase your capacity to feel joy so you don’t sabotage yourself from the full experience of it and see that no mater what life dishes out, you can handle the full spectrum of emotions that come your way. 

You got this 🙂 

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Listen to the Full Episode:

Full Transcript:

Welcome to the Mom on Purpose Podcast. I’m Lara Johnson, and I’m here to teach you how to get out of your funk, be in a better mood, claim more with your kids. Manage your home better, get your to-do list done and live your life on purpose with my proven method. This is possible for you, and I’ll show you how. You’re not alone anymore. We’re in this together.

Hello. Welcome back to the Mom on Purpose Podcast. I am your host, Laura Johnson. As I was thinking about this podcast episode, I was thinking about what a sacred honor it is to be a podcast host. I think about it in terms of inviting you into my home and into the things that I teach. But I also want you to know that I do feel that it’s a sacred responsibility that I have, that you are also inviting me into your space, into your home to talk about your life, your family, your hopes, and dreams.

And I really hope that you know that I take that to heart, and I feel your love and I hope you feel mine with each episode that you listen to. I truly do believe that part of my mission here on this earth is to help you awaken who you are, and I really take that to heart because I believe that when a mom wakes up to her purpose and what she is called to do, generations change.

And it’s so cool for me to think about the changes that you are making in your life because of this podcast and the changes that you’re making within your home and your family. All of those things are causing a ripple effect that is impacting your community, your home. Like thousands of people are feeling the ripple effects of the things that you are learning.

And that is really cool to me. And so, as I start this podcast, that’s just been on my mind this morning, to think about the ripple effects and the beauty that exists within the changes that you’re making. And I do hold that sacred responsibility very near and dear to my heart. So, with that, I do ask for your help on one thing, and that is to go and leave a review.

The reviews allow other moms just like you to be able to hear, and learn, and make the changes that they want to in their life. So, please, go super simple. It takes about thirty seconds to do that, you know, and of course, you can rate it. I hope that you will share something. You know, once you rate it, you can share something in the review that has resonated with you, as you’ve been learning some of these things.

All right. So today, for this episode, we are talking about increasing our capacity to feel joy, and this is something I’m noticing in a lot of my clients. I’m noticing in myself. I’m noticing in the world around me. Again, I’ve mentioned this before. I love looking for the patterns and this is something that I feel is essential for every woman, every person, every child to learn this skill that we’re going to be talking about today.

Part of being on this earth is to feel and experience joy. I believe in a God that wants us to be happy. I believe in a God that wants us to feel the fullness that life has to offer us. And we do talk a lot about. Positive and negative emotions and feeling the full spectrum of it. And we’ll dive more into that in just a second, but it’s important for us to understand that we are deserving of feeling joy in this life.

That is part of our right on this earth that I truly do believe. That we have the capacity to feel more joy than we currently are right now. And so that’s what we are going to be talking about: how to increase our capacity, to feel joy.

So, we always start with: you know this podcast episode is for you if you find yourself watching a TV show or a movie and you start feeling really good. You know that moment where you’re like right at the end of a movie where all the pieces are coming together and everybody’s happy. And you feel a little clumped? I don’t know if that’s a word. I’ve always said it, but you know, when you kind of get that lump in your throat like, “I’m going to happy cry” and suddenly you find yourself pushing it away. Like you shove it down, like, “oh, that’s so stupid.” You know, like I think about how I don’t know why this just came from my mind.

It’s like that moment on Lion King, where he, like, goes to Pride Rock and, like, all the fires are dying down. You’re like, “oh my gosh, this is so good.” And I’m like, “oh, I shouldn’t be crying over this. This is Lion King. That’s embarrassing.” Okay. So, we all have those movies. I find that I want to push those away.

And if you notice that you are pushing those away too, this podcast episode is for you. Another one is if you are tucking your kids in bed at night, or you are having a conversation with your teenagers where you are just having so much fun and suddenly, you’re looking over your shoulder and you’re, like, wondering when that shoe’s going to drop because things feel really good. And everybody’s really happy right now. And you wonder what’s the next bad thing that’s coming. And your mind just starts, like, entertaining that. Like, this is too good right now, something bad must be coming.

You’ll also know this podcast episode is for you if suddenly you find yourself nagging or snapping at the people that you love for not really a good reason and you’ll find yourself—it’s almost like this out-of-body experience where you’re like, “oh, what is the big deal? Like, why am I nagging over this?” Or “why am I so upset over this? It’s not that big of a deal.” This episode is for you if you ever feel that if you stop worrying, if you let go of some of your anxiety, you think that things will fall apart in your house or in your life to the point where, like, you really truly do feel, like, in your body, that you have to stay vigilant and on guard at all times so that something bad doesn’t happen to your family.

And then the last one, is you know this episode is for you if you find that every time you reach a goal, that you immediately move on to the next one. There’s no celebration, there’s no evaluation. And at some point, you get to, like, “Okay, now let’s go. Let’s go. Let’s go.” And it’s always, like, the next thing, the next thing, the next thing. This is—all of these are symptoms, okay? That you are uncomfortable feeling joy.

And when we talk about joy, I talk about joy in the sense that joy is a feeling or an emotion that we experience, a vibration that we experience in our body based on the way that we’re thinking. And so, every single person will get to some point in their lives where they’re uncomfortable with joy.

And the reason for that, you know, understanding, like, the way our brain works is life will always be 50 percent positive emotions, fifty percent negative emotions. And I’ve talked about that in past episodes, where we’re going to feel a full spectrum of emotions at any given point in our life. And it doesn’t matter that, like, we could just, you know, graduate from college or, you know, win a marathon or, you know, whatever that big thing is. And we can still feel negative emotions. And we also have specific emotions that we like to favor. They’re kind of like our security blanket, our little wubby, where we have practiced these emotions so frequently that it’s almost like our body has a muscle memory to that specific emotion and it will go to it very consistently.

So, in past episodes when we’ve talked about emotions, we’ve talked about, you know, processing and allowing those emotions, that there’s nothing wrong when we’re feeling a negative emotion. And we also talk about looking for patterns in our lives. And that’s where I’m going to focus today. As we talk about joy, it’s really understanding the patterns of our emotions and recognizing there are lots of times when there is an emotion that we like to favor.

Sometimes it’s just become a habit to feel a certain way. So, what you can think about is, and this is the way that, like, I’ve always thought about it for myself, is that as a kid, we loved playing night games. That was like our favorite thing. And there was like a game that we called “Ghost in the Graveyard” where there was a home base, usually, like, one of our porches and we would all run and hide. And as you were hiding, like, if somebody got caught, they would be sent back to home base and it was our job to go and save them from home base, like, to get them back out. But if somebody got everybody in home base, then, you know, whoever it was, they ended up winning. Not everybody else. I don’t ever remember winning. Let’s be clear. I was never, still never, a very fast runner. But that concept of home base, okay? There is some kind of home base. Another example, and maybe it resonates more with you, is thinking about like a baseball diamond. There is a home base where you could go out and run the bases and you come back to that home base.

Now for most people, we have a home base of emotion, one emotion that we favor more than others. And it may not just be one. Maybe it’s a couple, okay? And it doesn’t really matter, but you’ll notice that there is a pattern that you’ll always come back to this specific emotion. This is the emotion that you’ve practiced feeling over time. This has become your wubby, your security blanket.

So, for me, for the longest time, my home base emotion was anger. Now this came from trauma that I experienced as a child. I was sexually abused by my aunt’s husband, my uncle. And you know, that’s a story for another day and we’ll talk about that, but what had happened is based on that experience. I became very angry and, you know, fast forward, you know, like almost thirty years later when I really started to learn and understand emotional wellbeing, processing emotions.

I really gave myself a chance to be angry and to really process that. That was mine to feel for as long as I wanted. And I did, and I felt so good to give myself that permission to process that anger. Over time, though, I started to recognize that the anger was no longer something I wanted to continue feeling. It was like this shift happened inside my body where I stopped using anger. Like I stopped processing and started recognizing it as a habit. That was hindering me. And so, at that point, that’s when I started to recognize, “Okay, so this has just been my home base. This is where I feel really, like, the most comfortable. And now I don’t want to be here anymore. I actually want to change, and I want to shift.” Okay, so for me, at that point, that’s when I had to be willing to let go. And I’ll tell you, I’ll be honest with you, it was really scary. It was like anger had become my best friend. It was very comfortable for me to be angry about things.

And so, when I got to that point where I got to give myself permission to feel other things, it was very scary. It was very uncertain, very vulnerable to feel that way at that point. That’s when our, my brain and your brain, will get very uncomfortable. Because it’s vulnerable. So, when we’ve talked about emotions in the past, and we talk about it as like a wave of the ocean, like, coming on. And this wave of an emotion will get to a point where, at the peak, that is the most vulnerable position for our brain to be in. At that peak of the emotion, that is when your brain will tell you, “You’ve got to get out of this. This isn’t safe to feel this intense vibration.” So, at the time, I’d gotten really comfortable going through that vibration with anger. I was uncomfortable going through that vibration with something like joy.

And so, I had to learn and grow my capacity to go through that wave of emotion with a different feeling. And I got really comfortable and really intimate with joy. So that’s what I really wanted to touch on and speak to you about today; how do you practice increasing your capacity to feel joy?

Because, like, I mentioned, it is your right. It is your privilege. It is. As a human being, you deserve to feel joy, and your capacity to feel joy is more than you ever thought possible, but it takes intentionally practicing it, just like any other skill. And as you do that, then your joy can grow. And so, in the past, you know, as we’ve talked about, like the Discovery or Purpose Formula. You can go back and listen to that. I think it’s probably around, like, Episode Seven or Eight, where we talk about, you know, finding your joy, sparking the joy. Fantastic episode.

Now that you have done that—and you can go back and listen to it—what you’ll find is that you’ll start sabotaging your joy, and that’s why we need to practice being able to increase your capacity to feel it, so you don’t sabotage it when it comes up.

So, in order to do this, you know, I’ve got a couple of different steps for you. Let’s see. It’s like four or five steps for you to think about.

So, the first step we’re going to do (we’re going to go through these steps in order) is to practice feeling joy. So, in order to do this first step is to think of a joyful time, like a joyful moment.

As you reflect back, this moment might be something really big. It might be your first kiss to your spouse. It might be marriage. It might be a college graduation or the first time your kid hit a baseball, like when they were up to bat. It might be tucking your kids in bed at night. Whatever that moment is like. For me, I think that’s one thing that I can always create the feeling of joy on demand when I think about tucking my kids in bed at night. And there’s this moment where, like, the day passes away. You’re tucking them in and you’re, like, snuggling with them, and you lean over and you smell their head. Not in like a creepy way. I hope I’m not the only mom that does this, just to be clear. But there’s this moment before they get, like, a little bit older and a little bit stinky. You know when they’re little and you smell their head and it’s just like your kid. And there’s just this moment. Time stops and you just breathe them in. It’s like you can’t get enough of them. Okay? You just want to, like squeeze them, just gobble them right up.

Okay, so I want you to think about whatever that moment is for you. It doesn’t matter what it is, okay? Really get anchored into some memory, some joyful moment that you have.

As you do that, I want you to settle in. This is the second step. I want you to settle into this moment, okay? Take a deep breath and just imagine it, okay? What’s really cool about this is even though you’re not in the moment, you can still create joy in your body by remembering it. That’s what’s so amazing about our brains.

So, as you’re, like, settling into it, as you’re, like, breathing this moment in, I want you to notice what happens in your body and how your body responds to this. For me, when I feel joy—this is just an example. It might be different for you. There is no right or wrong way to feeling joy. I just want you to notice what happens for you.

So, for me, it’s almost like a shudder that, like, comes up my body. You know, you get, like, a shudder. Excuse my language if your children are listening to this, but that’s kind of what it feels like, where swelling starts in the stomach and it, like, shoots up my body. And it goes very quickly, but it’s very expansive. And suddenly my heart is quiet. My mind is quiet. I kind of feel like butterflies in my stomach. Suddenly, I feel like my whole body feels light. That’s how joy feels inside of me. I want you to settle into a joyful moment and recognize how joy feels for you. Get really clear on how your body responds.

So, at that point, once you start feeling that joy, it’s the third step. I want you to practice holding this memory, holding this joy inside of your body. And as you do this, I want you to get really clear on what’s happening inside of your brain. It’s almost like an out-of-body thing. Like you’re watching your brain.

As you watch your brain, what will happen is there will be other thoughts that, like, flutter through. I want you to think about them as just like leaves blowing in the wind. All of a sudden, you’ll start feeling this joy and you’ll notice a thought like, “oh! I have dishes to do.” Okay, but it’ll just kind of, like, be in passing. And I want you just to think about it as a leaf blowing in the wind. It’ll come. And then it’ll go. And then another one will come and each time you just let it go. Okay? Each thought that comes in. It might be like, “oh yeah, but I’ve messed up on this today.” That’s okay. You just let it go. You’re holding onto this moment, this joyful moment. You’re holding onto your body, feeling really light and joyful, and you’re just watching your brain as they pass.

Okay, so, at some point, these thoughts will become so over-consuming that it will take you out of joy. That’s normal. Expect it to happen. So, when this happens, this is where you’ve really reached your capacity for feeling joy, and some of the thoughts will get to like, “Okay, I felt the joy. It’s time to go on. It’s time to get going for the day, okay? That’s enough joy. I don’t have time to sit here.”

And what’s really funny is when I do this with my clients, they think they’re holding joy for like 20 minutes. They really think they’re like, “Okay, like I’ve got to get going with the rest of my day. Otherwise, I’m going to get behind.” They’re thinking, “It’s been like 20 minutes” when in reality, for most of my clients when I first do this activity with them, their capacity to feel joy is only about thirty seconds long at that point. Their brain gets so uncomfortable holding this memory, on feeling this emotion, that it lasts maybe only thirty seconds before it just zoomed by.

So, at that point, it doesn’t matter. Whatever. You know, you can just kind of watch, just kind of be mindful of the time, because this is your starting point for your capacity. So, like with my clients, for example, their capacity is about thirty seconds to feel joy. Okay, so that’s what you do in order to practice feeling joy that you want to get to, you know, your starting point for how long you can actually hold it. At that point, this is where the practice of increasing your capacity begins.

Now, in order to increase your capacity, there are a few things that you can do. The first thing is really like I mentioned: you want to know your starting time and then you want to start increasing that time. And you can do this throughout the day.

There’s no, like, specific time. Like, I’m a mom. I don’t have time to sit and meditate for fifteen minutes. I would love to, but that’s not where I’m at right now. It’s not one of my priorities. And so, for me, it’s like I think about, like, dropping into joy throughout the day. Like, when I think about it, I’m like, “okay, I’m going to go through those steps. I’m going to think of a joyful moment. I’m going to really take it in, breathe through it. I’m going to let my brain, you know, settle into this.”

And sometimes this is happening while I’m driving in the car. Sometimes this is happening standing at the counter making sandwiches. Like, I’m really just practicing holding this joy for as long as I can. And as I do that what I’m doing is I’m increasing my emotional muscle memory. My body is learning what it feels like to feel joy. It’s learning how to be comfortable, to be vulnerable with joy. And it’s allowing me to slowly grow that capacity over time. Just like you would a muscle group that you’re working out for the first time. And suddenly, you become stronger and more grounded as you’re doing these exercises.

The other thing that I will mention with this is as you start lengthening your time with joy, when negative emotions come up, they’re not a problem because your home base becomes joy. And so, when you go out, you know, like in the Ghost game, or, you know, when you’re going out on the baseball diamond, you know at some point you’re going to come back to home base. That’s just a given. You don’t question it. It just is. At some point, you will return to home base. It’s the same thing when I feel negative emotions now. And as I watch my clients feel it, they know that they’re not going to be in negative emotions forever (which is the lie that a brain wants to tell us). You can go and you can feel and process negative emotions knowing at some point you’re going to process all the way through and you’re going to return back to joy. It becomes that home base, that security blanket, that muscle that you have memorized over and over.

And the last thing that I’ll mention with this, you know, just like a word of caution, is that we don’t drop into joy in order to get out of negative emotions. That goes back to the episode on negative gratitude. The whole point of increasing our capacity to feel joy is to make sure that we have that home base, but that we’re still honoring the emotions that come up. You know that full spectrum of emotion.

Now, if you’re using this practice as a way to get out of the negative emotion, you’re going to feel—like it’s almost like having a hidden agenda for your body. Your body’s going to be onto you. Trust me. I have learned this over and over, and I wish it were not the case. Your body knows when you have a hidden agenda.

Okay, so really give yourself a chance to process. Use the skills that we talked about in episdoe 3, where you really practice processing your emotions. Knowing again that you’re going to revisit joy soon. Whenever and however long you need to be in those negative emotions, it’s not going to be forever, and it will pass.

And then you’ll go back to increasing your capacity for feeling joy. So that’s what I have for you today. And that’s what I really just you want to—as we’re increasing this capacity—I want you to give yourself permission that this is not going to happen overnight. Give yourself permission to start from the beginning. It’s okay if you can only hold joy for five seconds. There is no right or wrong starting point. There is no right or wrong way of doing this. What is right is that you’re honoring what you feel and that you are giving yourself a chance to start wherever you are. And that is one of the greatest gifts that you can give to yourself.

And as you do, and as you continue this skill going forward, not only will you notice a shift in yourself, but you’ll be able to help teach your children the same skill, because what you’re going to start noticing is when this behavior shows up in the people that you love.

Now, my daughter, she is one of the most brilliant, lovable, absolutely incredible humans you’ll ever meet. Her capacity to feel joy is very minimal at this point in her life. And so that’s one thing that we’re working on. And I know this because each time I look her in the eye and I tell her, “I really love you. I really love this and this and this about you.” Do you know what she’ll do back? She’ll stick her tongue out at me, like, so uncomfortable feeling joy at this point. And so, I’ve recognized that with her, at this point in her brain, she’s very aware of her surroundings and what’s happening. And her brain is wanting to sabotage her at every angle.

So that has now become the work that she and I, and the conversations we’re having together, are doing so that she can increase her capacity to feel joy as well. Because it’s very vulnerable to feel this and really watch your kids and they will feel and will sabotage themselves when they start to feel joy.

Now, you know, the skills in order to help them through that. But it takes you practicing it first and getting comfortable with it on your own before you start to help your kids.

Have a wonderful day, my friends. I can’t wait to talk to you soon. Thank you for listening. Please share, review, and subscribe to this podcast so that together we can live.

How to Connect with Lara:

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