The Serious Work of Fun and Joy

 “Joy does not simply happen to us.
We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day”
                                                                          - Henri Nouwen

We began 2013 exploring the Power of Choice which led us to Acceptance, then Forgiveness, and then Authenticity.  The month of May is dedicated to Joy and Fun.

When I began writing about the twelve Body Presencing™ Keys, I had no idea the journey it would take me on, how much work it would take, and how fun that work would become.  Finding the fun and joy in our lives, especially in the midst of things that can initially be challenging, is critical to our happiness and vitality.

When I first began writing these blogs I asked a creative writing colleague to help coach me in finding an authentic style that clearly expressed in words what I usually express through my hands with clients when I am working on them in my office.

Initially I resisted the writing process she taught me.  It seemed like too much work and not enough fun.  The irony was that part of the creative process involved looking up my name in Hebrew.  Can you believe my name, Gail, in Hebrew means joy?  Intuitively I knew that somehow the writing which seemed like such hard work was connected to fun and joy.  I just had to figure out how to find the fun humming beneath learning a new skill.

My whole life has been about activity; moving and shaking and working and playing.  I love moving my body and being active.  As a kid I played all kinds of games, was on a swimming team, and then got into dance.  As a chiropractor I use my hands and body to heal.  I’ve been involved in martial arts for over sixteen years now.  So who knew I would find fun and joy in the form of writing, a sedentary activity?

What I’ve come to enjoy is the process, the sharing, and the putting into words my thoughts and experiences.  I even look forward to finding moments in a day to sit down and write.  What was once hard work has become a great joy and a lot of fun.

Fun is not frivolous; it is very important and serious stuff.  Let’s make May a month of joy and having some serious fun!  It’s springtime, a beautiful flower-filled time when we can get out, enjoy the sun and warmth, and remember how to play with renewed vigor.

One of the best ways to begin adding fun and joy into our lives is to start with ourselves and to carve some time out every day to enjoy ourselves and life.  This means actually scheduling some time that is just for having fun and enjoying ourselves; even if it is only 30 minutes.  

This month identify and explore some new activity.  Tell your inner child to “go out and play.”  Take long and rambling walks with friends.  Plant a garden for the first time.  And if you’re already a gardener, then experiment with some new flowers, vegetables, and herbs.  Take that Tango dance class.  Paint with watercolors (even if it streaks everywhere and makes a mess).  Cook something you’ve never cooked – just for the fun of it, not because someone in your family needs a hot meal.

And remember, finding our deepest joy is sometimes a step by step process that might require some work to begin with.  Dance is supposed to be fun, right?  But to really enjoy it involves learning new steps, stretching your body to accommodate some unusual movements, gaining control over new exercised muscles, and making mistakes.  But once we do the work, voila!  Just as in learning the Tango, without some work we might not fully experience all of the serious fun and joy that is available to us.  And life is too short not to dance to the tune of our deepest joy.

Small Lifestyle Changes that Promote Big Results
Take out a pen and paper. Make two columns. Title one column, “What I like to do and makes me smile.” Title the other column, “What I don’t like to do.” And then just begin filling out the columns without censoring yourself. You might identify some things you hadn’t even consciously thought of or been doing in your life. Then, carve some time each day to go out or go in, and actually do what delights you. As my mother would say, “Enjoy!”

And if any of you have written in your column, cook some new and fun foods; I have some great ideas coming up in an upcoming blog this month!

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