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9 Ways to Display

Audacious Joy

It’s easy to be heavy. It’s hard to be light.

GK Chesterton, Orthodoxy

I remember the first time I read that quote in Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. (One of the top 10 books that have shaped my life, btw.) I was gobsmacked. That was exactly how I felt. It seemed so much easier to be negative. Being postive was hard.  I wasn’t the only one who saw life this way?! What!? (Apparently someone did. Thanks, GK Chesterton.)

People who try to embrace a joyful attitude in life are often ridiculed as unrealistic or childish. But the truth is, it is so much easier to be a cynic and a critic. When life is handing out sucker punches left and right, it is a much bigger challenge to look for reasons to toot your party horn.

Choosing joy in a dark world isn’t naiveite. It’s courage. I’m not talking about a Pollyanna, head-in-the-sand type of optimism. I’m not talking about ignoring reality. I’m talking about being able to see the world in all of its mess and mayhem. And then getting out your magnifying glass and being able to spot the reasons for joy. To see the good in people. To find the reasons to say thank you.

Simply staying focused on choosing to see the joy in our lives can sometimes feel like pushing rocks uphill. Choosing to be AUDACIOUS with our joy in a world of cynics and critics is nothing short of radical. A brave act of resistance against other people’s anger and negativity.

Being audacious with our joy means taking it to the next level. Living LOUD with our joy. Not being content with keeping all the party favors to ourselves, but taking the party to others! Joy was meant to be displayed. So put on your party hat, turn up the dance music, and let’s get audacious with our joy!

1. Start at the very beginning.

First, take the time to discover what makes you joyful. If we want more joy in our lives, let’s pull a Julie Andrews and Start at the Very Beginning by making our very own Joy List.

Do you even know what brings you joy? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Now is a great time. Go ahead, we’ll wait right here. Seriously. Go get a pen.

Ask yourself: What little things light you up? What colors make you feel good? What makes you laugh? What places do you feel most calm and happy? What are the rituals that fuel your soul? You know what resonates with your heart. Write it all down. Use a glitter pen.

Now that you have your list, here’s what to do with it.

2. Embrace the happy colors.

Some joys are universal, like happy colors. We all have colors that make us smile. Choose the colors that make you happy and then actually use them in your life. The how is up to you: wear the aqua pants, get a purple mani, paint your front door or your walls or your car bright pink. But embrace your favorites.

3. Advertise your joy.

Don’t be shy! Advertise your joy. On your car, on your tee. Buy the sign. Get the sticker. Put up the billboard. Post the social media. Promote your joy like it is your job.

4. Embrace your inner Peter Pan.

Give yourself permission to tap into the joys of your inner child. Childlike is not the same as childish, y’all.  Fairy tales aren’t just for story time.  Merry-go-rounds and monkey bars aren’t just joyful for children.  It’s okay if we continue to find joy in some of the same things the kids do. So…

5. Go ahead and do your joy thing in public. 

(As long as it includes pants.) Eat the lollipop. Ride the merry-go-round. Order the appletini. Get the rainbow mani. Don’t worry about what someone might think. We hesitate over what might bring us joy because we worry about the judgment of the crankypants of the world. Do your joy thing! And if someone judges….

6. Twirl on the haters.

Don’t let the critics win. They are not more sophisticated or more realistic or more adult because they are judging your audacious joy. They are simply mad that they aren’t brave enough to order their own appletini. 

7. Promote what you love…with joy.

Don’t bash the other guy. Or gal. There are legit things out there in the world to be upset about. But make sure you are focusing on what you want to see more of in the world instead of just body slamming the opposition. Fight for the causes that matter to you, of course! But fight right. Fight with joy, not anger. What a radical idea.

8. Shoot off the confetti cannon. Just because.

Don’t just wait for the extraordinary moments in life to bring audacious joy your way. Go find the joy that lives right there under your nose in the normal and everyday moments. Or in a quirky holiday or two.  And give those moments the dance party they deserve. You’ll find yourself on the dance floor a lot more often.

9. Flex your joy muscles.

It seems obvious. Of course we want to choose joy! But in her excellent talk The Call to Courage, Brenè Brown explains that joy is the most vulnerable of all human emotions. We are terrified to feel joy, because we are afraid something will come along and snatch it away.

That’s why its so much easier to respond with cynicism or anger.  Choosing joy requires muscles. (Choosing audacious joy requires bodacious muscles.) We have to lean in and be brave to be joyful. So put on your big girl pants and get to lifting.

Girl, you know it’s true.

Our world is full of people who aren’t afraid to share their discontent and anger. People who are all too ready to render judgments and register complaints. Loudly. Frequently.  Sometimes offensively.

We need to be equally as willing to be audacious and loud with our joy! Listen, I get it.  It’s never going to be easy. Life just doesn’t work like that. But sharing our audacious joy with the world is one way we fight back against the negativity, anger and hatred.

Keeping all your joy to yourself isn’t enough.

Sharing is caring, after all! So go be audaciously joyful with your bad self. You are making the world a better, more joyful place. And I, for one, am so very thankful for it.


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