I believe most of us are not experiencing the full-out joy, abundance, and love that we are here to experience. And I believe each of us is solely responsible for our own Juicy Joy. I have a few theories about the origin of our miserly tendencies to stifle our joy, and one of these theories was formed about six years ago, on vacation with my kids.
We had been waiting for almost a year for our turn to stay at the brand new Animal Kingdom Lodge that had just opened at Disney World. My son, who was seven years old at the time, was just a tremendous animal lover. He had jungle scenes painted all over his room, stuffed animal monkey collections, the works. My daughter, Katy, who was two years old, had naturally caught the contagious excitement, and she knew something really spectacular was waiting for us on this vacation.
We checked in kind of late and went out on our balcony, and I think we saw a deer off in the distance, but nothing really amazing that first night. The hotel was set up in a U-shape, with a Disney-esque African savannah in the middle where the animals would make appearances. Trees were beyond the savannah, for the times when they didn’t feel like socializing. We’d been told the best time to see the animals was morning, so we went to sleep.
Being two years old, my daughter was the first one awake the next morning. I picked her up and I didn’t want her to wake up my son, so I decided to take her out on the balcony for a while since it was still pretty early.
I pulled back the curtain and I saw the most spectacular display of animals. There was a watering hole where they’d come to drink – giraffes, zebras, all kinds of antlered creatures . . . I stepped out onto the balcony with Katy, and she lifted up her sleepy head.
It took her a moment to process everything. Then she just went crazy with excitement. She started shouting, “AMINALS!! AMINALS!!!” And as soon as she did, every single animal jumped and ran off into the trees. Disappeared.
I heard this broad, collective “AWWWWW,” and for the first time I noticed that everyone who was staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge had come out on their balconies to witness this silent, reverent morning gathering of the whole menagerie.
I said to my daughter, “Katy, honey, you scared them away . . .”
Her sweet face just crumbled. Huge tears started streaming down her face. And then I started to cry, too, as I realized that it was my embarrassment about all the people on their balconies that caused me to react to her that way. All she was doing was expressing her natural joy and excitement over something that was so wonderful to her.
And I thought about how I do that to my kids – how we all do it – even in our mundane, day-to-day activities. When my son was young, he would express his joy at the beach by running, full-out, as fast as he could down the shoreline. I stifled his joy by stopping him and calling him back.
My daughter used to express the joy she got from her spaghetti by standing up in her chair in the restaurant to sing and dance about it. And of course, I stifled her pasta enthusiasm when I made her get down. Just think about how many times in an average day we ask children to REIGN IN the natural joy and enthusiasm they’re feeling!
It is inevitable, under these conditions, that a child would form the subconscious belief, “feeling and expressing my joy full-out is wrong, wrong, wrong.” It is inevitable that a child would start to subconsciously equate his unbridled enthusiasm with feelings of unease, so that whenever a situation felt too good, too joyous, he would subconsciously feel a need to cap that happiness before it made anyone upset.
My point today is not about whether or not parents should rein in the expression of emotions, but about acknowledging that this IS one of the ways we indoctrinate our offspring into our culture. This is how every one of US grew up, whether we had fantastic parents or awful parents. For some of us, the message was more barbed than it was for others, but the way our society is structured, it’s unlikely any of us escaped messages about limiting or censoring joy, or escaped forming the limiting beliefs these stifling messages generated.
As with practically every Juicy Joy practice, the first step to rewiring these limiting beliefs is AWARENESS. Pay attention to your subconscious tendencies to limit the amount of abundance, love, and joy you allow yourself to experience and express. When you notice that feeling of unease when things seem “too good to be true,” make a conscious decision to enthusiastically push past it – to deliberately bump up your threshold for joy. It may take many baby steps, but with every small step you’ll be inching toward an ever-juicier and more joyful existence!