In moments of bliss and triumph, do you ever feel stoked…then feel uneasy and wonder when the other shoe will drop?
Do you ever look at someone you love (your kids, your partner) and think how much you love + adore them - and then immediately think of how crushed you would be if anything ever happened to them (at which point millions of awful scenarios play out in your mind)?
Why do we insist on conjuring up potential tragedy in moments of deep joy?
Because joy is the most vulnerable emotion we feel, even more so than fear and shame.
As Brené Brown advises in her new book, Dare to Lead, when we feel joy, it is a place of incredible vulnerability. It’s beauty and fragility and deep gratitude and permanence all wrapped up in one experience.
When unable to tolerate that level of vulnerability, our joy actually morphs into foreboding, and we immediately shift to self protection. We go on offense. It’s as if we face off to vulnerability and declare, “You will not catch me off guard. You will not sucker punch me with pain. I will be prepared and ready for you.”
The collateral damage of this instinct is we waste the joy we need to build up any emotional reserve, the joy that allows us to accumulate resilience for if/when tragic things do happen. Boom: Another powerful reason to live in the moment.
In moments like these I tell myself, “Right now, life kicks ass and I’m going to be happy and ride this wave as long as possible.” Not to say you must be sad and miserable during life’s other moments; but during those highs, lose yourself in the happiness, lean into the joy, embrace the bliss.
What allows you to do this, while still fortifying you against what may come? Simply gratitude. Just be GRATEFUL. I tell myself, “No matter how long this lasts, it’s happening right now, and for that I’m thankful.” I commit to being grateful for however long it lasts, and just grateful it’s even happening at all. (The bonus is this actually attracts more things for which to be grateful!)
It’s allowing yourself the pleasure of accomplishment/love/joy/etc - really feeling it and absorbing it - but conjuring up gratitude for the moment and for the opportunity. It’s allowing yourself to recognize the sliver of vulnerability - that “Oh shit I have something worth losing now” feeling - and to just sit with it, and be grateful you have something you want, in your hand, that feels good to hold and recognize. We must stop every so often to celebrate ourselves and others, and our opportunities and wins, no matter how small. Things may go sideways later, but don’t let that rob you of the joy right now.
You don’t know what’s around the corner, so why sacrifice the present’s awesomeness for something that may not even friggin’ happen?
I’m a big believer in positive thinking. And get this: Thoughts really DO have energy. This is not a mystical, hippie concept. It is quantum physics grounded in research and experiments of modern scientific tools. It is also backed by scientists like ya boys Einstein and Edison. Yeah, the heavy hitters. There is so much more to say on this (fascinating!) topic, but suffice it to say: Your thoughts have energy and it is scientifically proven. When you think negative thoughts, it attracts more negativity. When you think positive thoughts, it attracts more positivity.
In this vein, there are a couple of points I want to make:
This doesn’t mean you must force yourself to (try to) stay positive and high vibing every second of every day.
That’s just not feasible. Not realistic. As with everything in life, it’s about balance. Those “off” moments and low vibes serve just as valuable of a purpose. Not only do they amplify by the awesome moments/feelings/etc by providing contrast (think bright twinkling stars in an inky black sky), they also reveal our unhealed parts, aka opportunities for growth and evolution. It’s impossible and unintended for us to be jazzed 100% of the time, so remove that pressure from yourself right meow! Again, this doesn’t mean you reYOu sign yourself to misery and blahness during those “lower” moments. No, it’s about getting to a place where you embrace and are grateful for ALL life offers - the wins and the moments to learn and level up. It’s about loving yourself and others through it all
And what about those times when no matter how hard you try, you just feel dark? Stuck in those low vibes? Then just remember to bring it back to the breath, baby. Let that be your full focus. Breathe in, breathe out. (It helps to imagine inhaling love and positivity, and exhaling fear and negativity) If you doubt its power and think it’s something you can easily pass on - I dare you to try it just once. Yep, you’re welcome. (And no, this doesn’t make you a hippie - it just makes you a smart and effective BAMF.)
Don’t confuse faith you will prevail in the end - which you can’t afford to lose - with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, regardless of what they are.
This was a lesson shared by former Vietnam prisoner of war Admiral Jim Stockdale in Jim Collins’s classic book Good to Great (great read). Stockdale spent eight years as a POW and was tortured more than 20x. Not only did he fight to keep himself alive, he also helped other prisoners endure the physical and emotional torment.
So celebrate, and celebrate often - even if you’re just celebrating being alive. Embrace the bliss and love it for what it is.