How to Pivot Toward Joy, No Matter What

How to Pivot Toward Joy, No Matter What

When being cut off in traffic, missing the bus, or having to pay a little (or a lot) extra for a surprise parking ticket, it can be altogether annoying for the world to remind us to “just smile,” “be thankful,” or “be joyful.” 

I totally get it, I’ve been there. When joy is the last thing on my mind, receiving a reminder to “just follow your joy” is kinda maddening. Like, why universe, why? All I wanna do is stamp my feet and yell because in that moment joy seems so far away. Or is it?

Joy Is a Direction, Not a Destination

There is good news. We can all stop trying to strive for this destination or end goal of joy, because it’s actually not a destination at all. A destination is a one-time deal. We get to the destination and it’s like, “Yayyy…” and then we’re already onto the next thing! So what’s the deal? I don’t want to view joy like that, do you? But yet so many of us do this! 

We tend to sacrifice now in order to experience joy (hopefully) later.

Ick. I’m ready for a joy overhaul. Besides, the hunkering down and the “no pain, no gain” bargaining mentality when it comes to happiness is such an ass backwards crazy train way of looking at it that I wish I never would have got on. Is hard work a good thing? Sure! Hard work can be great, in fact I have a hard time not working. I can’t stand being idle for too long, I get bored. So I’m not over here saying “Out with the hard work, let’s all lay around in our PJ’s all day!” I’m suggesting a pivot toward a joyful direction in all aspects of life, work, relationships, business, everything

Because I don’t want to suffer now in order to (maybe) feel joy later. I want to feel joy now, because otherwise I think getting to a destination of joy is kind of pointless, to be honest. 

So Let’s Talk About Pivoting

Pivoting, if you’ve ever played sports (or watched Friends) means moving just slightly from where you are and simply changing directions. If you were facing one direction, when you pivot you’re now facing another. It’s pretty simple. 

In terms of life, with whatever is grinding your gears right now, it might just require a simple pivot. Usually we’re all soooo close, but just need to pivot some more. It’s the difference between facing the wall or facing the actual screen at the movie theater. Tiny shift, huge difference, amirite?

So in terms of pivoting towards joy, this process can be a little bit hardcore, fair warning. Because it’s going to require you to get real and form some boundaries and commitment. It requires a commitment toward things that bring joy, and saying “no” to the things that don’t. 

Wait, So This Means to Just Quit All the Things I’m Supposed To Do?

Insert any “yeah but” protests or reasonings for those here. I totally get it. If I’m talking about pivoting toward joy, doesn’t that mean giving up absolutely every thing that doesn’t bring joy? Like flossing?  (your teeth, not the dance) Or paying the bills? Or cleaning? Or going out in public when we’d rather just binge movies all day? What about going to work? And the gym? Wouldn’t we all just let ourselves go?

Let allllllll the protests rise to the surface. Write them all down if you have to. Something interesting to note here is that if you have a ton of protests here, it means there may be an awful lot of things that aren’t matching up to the vibe of joy right now, and they’re all coming up to the surface to be expressed. Just something to think about.

Next, there’s something to be said about those little mundane things that come up like paying the bills, flossing our teeth, or cleaning. The actions themselves are pretty small, if we really look at them. And obviously, most of us want to have nice chompers, and we want to have a clean place to live where the water works and the lights stay on. Are those not extremely great things to have? Does eating yummy food with healthy teeth and having a place to live where friends can come by (and bring wine) not bring joy? 

Even best-selling expert Marie Kondo created an entire movement about entirely reframing the way we clean in a way that begins with gratitude and centers around what sparks joy! (Totally life-changing, seriously.) 

Reframing The Way We Think About Joy

Remember, joy is not a destination, it’s a direction. It’s a way of life. And you cannot exist on a not-joy spectrum. It’s always there for you, it’s only ever a pivot away, even when it feels a million lightyears away. And it only feels far away when we’re viewing it as a destination instead of a direction.

We free ourselves from the constant never-ending pursuit of joy when we can realize it’s already here. We’re already in the movie theater, we may just be facing the wall, or the $45 popcorn bucket, or the friend next to us instead. 

Joy is found everywhere. Because we are always on the path of joy already. Just like a compass always has all of the coordinates on it’s face already, so too does every path already exist right where we’re standing. In any given moment, things can seem joyful, terrible, happy, sad, melancholy, hopeless, amazing, depending on our perspective, depending on the direction we are facing. All of the directions always exist. 

  • So joy can be found right there in that hot cup of coffee 

  • Joy can be found in the smile from the stranger at the traffic crossing. 

  • That book that drew you toward it in the bookstore had joy written all over it.

  • Your dog’s wagging tail is totally pure joy. 

  • Allowing yourself to do whatever it is you want to do is joy.

  • Joy is a sunny day. 

  • The baby that smiles after puking all over you is still joy. (Sorry about your sweater.)

  • Writer’s block can be joy. (Hey, let’s go for a hike instead!) 

  • Traffic jams can be joy. (YES. Podcast time!)

  • Dealing with difficult people can be joy. (“Are you okay? Would you like to talk about it?”)  

  • Becoming hopping mad can even be a joy. (Finally! I’ve had enough! And it feels so good to admit that!) 

Joy is Not a Destination, it’s a Direction. 

And I believe that those who have understood that simple fact have been trying to teach us all the same thing for thousands of years. The celebrities who realized fame didn’t bring them happiness. The monks who taught us that happiness doesn’t need modern amenities. Those out there who have truly understood what actual beauty is, and have been trying to tell us for years that it has nothing to do with the way society tells us to look.

Joy is where we are, and if we can’t see that, we will never reach it. 

We reach joy when we realize it’s been around us this entire time.

We reach wealth when we realize how much we already have.

We find beauty when we realize that we already are. 

We understand worth when we realize how worthy we always are.

It’s the ultimate paradox in traditional thinking and it is crazy powerful. 

Join the Joy Challenge

One of the things I wanted to embark upon in the new year has been to make this the year I embrace joy. It’s gonna be kinda like this year-long workshop where I intentionally lean more into joy and let myself be led by that instead of fear, lack, or insecurity. It’s a complete turnaround for me, and I know that sharing about it will be beneficial for a lot of people as well. 

Because after all, joy is hard to find when facing a totally different direction! So it’s helpful to be reminded that it’s only a pivot away. I hope this post has helped someone out there who maybe has felt like joy is so far beyond reach, or like there’s no way with their life circumstances being the way they are that they could ever be joyful. But with that, I want to leave this with one of my favorite verses from the Bible that promises joy ahead, and that even if you can’t see it right now, the promise is there all the same.

Be truly glad, there is wonderful joy ahead. 

1 Peter 1:6-9

Wanna join me in this joy challenge? Comment below or find me on Instagram @jessica_colyer and let me know you’re all in for making this year the year you allow yourself to find the joy all around you always.