This week found me doing the Gratitude and Joy practices for Brene Brown's course. The biggest surprise of all is actually experiencing the vulnerability of joy. Daring to feel joy completely makes me feel vulnerable to ridicule, rejection and disappointment. Children fully embrace joy because they are not afraid to be thought of as silly, or of living in the moment, fully enjoying themselves, unattached to the future moments of the playtime being over or the bubbles being finished in the bottle. They don't save some for next time - they just keep blowing until their interest or joy wanes and then they move on, even if they feel disappointment for a moment. They don't attach. They are not afraid to express both joy and disappointment which allows them to move through the emotion, fully live, feel alive, and move on down the river of life.
Brene calls our adult reaction: Joy-foreboding. Dreading the moment after fully feeling the joy. To protect ourselves from this disappointment and feelings of vulnerability, we choose to shut down feeling joy in order to avoid feeling the difficult emotions afterwards. Its a form of numbing our emotions. And it leads to a non-alive life. I know. I am very tentative. I go carefully. I like to navigate quietly, unnoticed, most of the time. Play it safe. Joy sounds so daring....and it is.
But, because I am doing this course, I am trying new things, pushing myself to be braver than usual. I posted this comment on the social stream:
"I told my middle son in the car driving to the movies on a "date" with him on Monday that I wanted to start practicing gratitude at the dinner table and he said, "Let's start now - you go first." I was a little shy and surprised how vulnerable I felt, even with him. (The journal and these exercises are so much safer!) And then he had his turn and I was blown away at how much love and appreciation he has for me! So the next night, I was braver and suggested it at the dinner table. My husband was skeptical and got up to clear the dishes. I could feel his resistance. We waited for him to sit down again and I shyly got the ball rolling, my middle son went next, a little more intimidated with the larger audience and then our youngest, at 8 years old, could not be stopped. Five didn't cut it for him and he rattled off the most vulnerable, courageous list with an astounding vocabulary of things he is grateful for : "all the love we give him, his comforts, this house, his life, hugs and snuggles, reading to him, caring for him, his brothers for playing with him, the money we work hard to earn, etc, etc, etc.!!" My husband shed tears, our hearts swelled and we felt so appreciated. My husband then felt really okay sharing his gratitude list, with a lot of emotion around the table. It was beautiful. Thank you for this inspiration."
I received 6 comment replies all from people moved by my sons' reactions. Children are so inspiring with their loose, fully engaged approach to life, fully feeling their feelings and fully living their lives, alive! Daring greatly!