We often talk about and express a lot of anger in Radical Honesty workshops. Expressing anger is a huge taboo in our society. And for many of us, another (not so obvious) taboo: joy.
We’re often afraid to experience joy, to show joy or even to talk about it. And yet we are AS AFRAID OR EVEN MORE AFRAID OF JOY AND HAPPINESS THAN ANGER AND FEAR. We know anger, shame and fear. We might have an illusion of safety around them, a feeling of “it can’t get any worse” (until it does). When experiencing or feeling joyfulness, we might fear that we shouldn’t get too excited since the feeling won’t last anyway. So instead of enjoying our joy, we only partially experience it as we’re too busy worrying.
Our joy is so unknown to us that often when it visits us, we hardly recognize it or pause to enjoy it. A little glimpse that everything is well, a moment when all feels good, a time when colors are bright and everyone and everything looks beautiful—that’s almost unbearable to us.
Or we worry about expressing our joy if someone close to us isn’t doing as well as we are. We fall into the trap of thinking that our joy somehow takes away from someone else rather than thinking about how our joy can add to the joy and happiness of those around us.
When I was looking for something to read ahead of spending a day at the spa for my birthday, I came upon a book on Pete’s bookshelf from 1967 called Joy. What a beautiful book it is!
The book’s author, William C. Schutz, writes: “How is joy attained? A large part of the effort, unfortunately, must go into undoing. Guilt, shame, embarrassment, or fear of punishment, failure, success, retribution – all must be overcome. Obstacles to release must be surmounted. Destructive and blocking behavior, thoughts, and feelings must be altered.”
Schutz says that a cornerstone of attaining joy is honesty and openness. “Directness deepens and enriches relationships, and opens up feelings of warmth and closeness that are rare in most of our experiences.”
I say: let’s embrace our moments of joy! There’s no shortage of joy to be experienced! There’s always more to experience. And there are ways we can increase the amount happiness and joy in our life. We can deal with—and get over—our unfinished business from the past and create freedom and space for joy, adventures and dreams. When we exercise our truth-telling muscle, little by little we care less about what others think of us and we allow ourselves to stretch our limits and sing on the bus, smile when we want to, be silent rather than engage in small talk… Whatever comes to mind in that moment, whatever brings us joy.
Brad Blanton, the founder of Radical Honesty, says: “Honest sharing between and among people connected at the heart, is key to the emergence of a greater love toward other people. So then we have to learn how to tolerate joy, then how to enjoy joy! Most of us don’t know how to do that, but we can learn from those who do.”