Being vulnerable even at work is becoming more culturally acceptable. And of course, we have Brené Brown to thank for that. 

But here is what I think we haven’t fully accepted – the vulnerability that comes with feeling and expressing deep joy. We have normalized talking about our failures, mistakes, and challenges and that is beautiful. But, we aren’t always comfortable honoring the good, savoring and celebrating our joys, and giving ourselves permission to fully lean into them. 

When I was in my coach training, one of our instructors once said – We are scared of feeling both our pain and our joy because we fear that if we give ourselves permission to feel our pain, we won’t be able to come out of it and we are afraid of feeling our joy because we are scared that it will come to an end. 

And there is a lot of truth here. When the good stuff comes to us, we are told we need to be humble about it in case we lose it, we are told how can we experience joy when there is so much suffering in the world, we are told that if you fully feel your joy, you may not want to accomplish or achieve anymore.

But I disagree…

Humility and joy can coexist, compassion and joy can coexist, and accomplishment and joy can also coexist.  

And here’s my question – “What if you gave yourself permission to feel your joy more deeply, express those joys in beautiful ways first to yourself but also in how you show up in the world, especially at work?”

I am not talking about aggrandizing self-promotion on social media though I have seen some very graceful examples of people expressing their joy and inspiring others to experience joy too. I am talking about first being honest with yourself and giving yourself permission to experience joy deeply and then finding ways to bring that joy thoughtfully to others. Maybe it’s sharing something beautiful with a trusted co-worker or starting a new ritual for your team meetings. 

And here is the thing – when we can tap into that joy, we have a greater capacity to be creative, innovate, problem-solve more effectively and have a greater capacity for connection, creating safety, and being more effective colleagues and leaders in the workplace.

To be clear, I am NOT saying that this is the only thing that matters but we all have an opportunity to turn up the dial on how much joy we let ourselves experience in small and big ways. 

Reflection Question: Where do you experience resistance to feeling joy and what’s something in your work or beyond this week that brought joy into your world?

Pic Credit: Luca Upper

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