When you observe children playing you see an infectious delight in being alive, in doing whatever they’re doing, in exploring and asking questions and expressing themselves. Even tantrums fade back to that innate state that I refer to as riotous joy.
It allows us to feel secure while we sob uncontrollably (I know I’m not the only one), and provides a safety net when we get caught up in jumbled-up thinking waiting for us to remember where we should be placing our focus.
Knowing and living from riotous joy is an undervalued metric in living a well-loved life.
The insight sprang to mind again while listening in to a photo-lecture about a group of London street children living in poverty. Many were living in dire conditions. Some did not make it to adulthood, others did. What I noticed was as children they revealed that innate resilience that we all have at our core. They knew joy and play in the midst of less than ideal conditions.
Through facing some of my own challenging times over the years (and talking with others walking theirs) I’ve tuned into a knowing that my top priority is reorienting back to and releasing joy on a daily basis. It means being the gatekeeper of my attention, something that no one else can do for us.
It’s not about trying to be positive and happy. It’s about remembering what’s true.
Releasing joy and unchaining creativity will likely look different for me than it does for you. I remember one year when it seemed like I was training to be an olympic hurdler with the number of challenges I was facing. Being in my joy meant writing blog posts (nobody was reading them, but that was not the point), getting a ton of fresh air, crying whenever I needed to, spending time with people, dancing, walking running . And in the midst of it all I was aware that to all intents and purposes I was living my dream life. Dream life not because of the amount of stuff I owned or any external marker, but because it was full of meaning, spaciousness, truth, joy, creativity, depth, and an understanding of what’s what.
This all allowed me to receive intuition, wisdom and insight for the next step that doesn’t come in the midst of an emotional experience, only after.
Things did change, and I moved through what I was moving through. But in order to show up for the day’s duties so to speak I had to continually stay tuned into my riotous joy. We only have to show up one day at a time.
Riotous joy is not hypey nor does it necessarily look like ‘happy’, it’s a deep abiding sense of all being well (based on what is absolutely true, not on wishful thinking or intellectual concepts) no matter how choppy the waters we are currently sailing. It unchains creativity and keeps us looking inward to our innate resources rather than into the abyss of the ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’ about our circumstances. It is always there just underneath the canopy of personal story.
When we get emotionally unsettled we may mistakenly think those feelings are coming from our actual circumstances but it is an illusion, a very real feeling one, but still an illusion. We are in fact panicking ourselves unwittingly, we generate the thoughts of panic due to resisting our conditioning and then experience them as, you guessed it, panicky. It happens so quickly that we assume quite understandably, that the panic is coming at us from elsewhere. Of course if we were to really question that assumption it wouldn’t stack up. But with no ‘plausible’ explanation it feels like certain circumstances do have the ability to cause us great anxiety.
But when we do have, not only a plausible explanation, but a true one based on the understanding of how we create our experience of life from within out, we start to see we are always living in the feeling of our essential functioning and nothing else.
When we begin to catch this revelation at a cellular level, we start to see a separation between us, our thinking and our circumstances which fosters hope. It doesn’t feel so scary to have whatever emotional experience we’re having. This allows us to relax, even if just a little, when going through emotional turbulence knowing that when our head clears a bit, or a lot, we’ll be in sync with creative intelligence. This is how the the system is designed to operate.
We do have a responsibility and daily opportunity to reorient back to, and release joy. When I say ‘responsibility’ I’m not saying this is something that ‘should be done’. I use responsibility to describe an inherent feature of design e.g. a chair has a responsibility to bear the weight of someone sitting on it, it is inherent in the function of its design.
Of course we can be deliberate about making time for the activities and relationships that allow us to be and experience joy. With a deeper realisation though we may notice ourselves moving that way without thinking about it because it is the deepest and most natural form of self-care.
We are free to release our joy whenever we choose to, it is not affected by or determined by external events. On the contrary it has a way of affecting them.
Radiating joy is an inherent feature of our design which gracefully taps into an intelligent and universal system of provision (wisdom, knowledge, insight) designed to meet all human need.
We don’t have to try and be joyous. We can have whatever emotional experience we’re having. When we keep moving through it without adding in more story, but simply keep feeling, the joy-stop is where we land.
Enjoy the ride.