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In her book Daring Greatly, Dr. Brene Brown wrote something that greatly challenges me when life is good.
She writes that I won’t trust it. I won’t trust joy.
In her decade long research study on vulnerability she found that when things were going well and people were joyful,
instead of marinating in the moment, they distrusted. They freaked out. In short, they experienced a “dread” that interferes with leaning in and celebrating the joyful event, person, or circumstance.
It’s the moments where you watch your child(ren) sleep and while your heart is overwhelmed with their (now quiet) presence in the world, the thought comes, “What if something happens to them.?”
It’s the car you finally have money for and as you drive off the lot think “What if I wreck it?”
It’s the new job, mended friendship, flawless day, or perfect moment where everyone did chores and the house is clean and you think, “Well, this won’t last.”
It won’t last, so I can’t trust joy.
So we erase it. Minimize it. Forget that we found and did have that moment, time, circumstance of peace, joy, happiness… you name it really. We don’t trust it so we stop it.
What’s our choice? How could we stand it to lose what brought us such hope? (Because it really will NOT last and THEN what?)
Let me share what I’m learning on the other side of “then what”…
Our family bought a house three years ago on 2 acres of land. As a city girl, I signed my name on the house not because of anything but the trees that soared 150 feet. I imagined – and then faithfully did – have coffee on our back deck every morning. I went out amidst them when there was conflict in the family. Tall, mystical, and glorious, they often pointed me heavenward when my eyes were too much on my toes. In fact, no one who ever visited us looked down when they looked at these trees.
Five weeks ago a freak storm came and blew down 15 of these trees, which is to say, nearly all of the mature poplar, oak, birch and “hardwoods” we had. The next morning I literally watched a squirrel run up a tree whose top half was ripped off only to get to the top, stop and go back down. His nest was no longer there. My trees were gone.
As anti-treehugger as I am, I did the only thing I knew to do. Sit next to one that was laying on our deck, put my hand on the top part that never felt a human and say, ‘Thank you. Every day you were here you did your work for me. I don’t understand this, but I want to be here in acceptance and say ‘okay.'”
So, what do we do to trust joy?
Lean in, very hard. Soak up everything it has to give us precisely because it won’t last – but it’s HERE NOW.
Lean in because as we do, we will change into people who believe the good does come, the blessings DO happen.
Lean in with all our heart because when we do, we soak it in, and we become joyful. We become grateful. We become celebrators of the joy. We teach others to lean in to their good, their miracles, their lives.
Most importantly, when the joy leaves, the mark of gratitude is etched in our souls.
We can hold space for the joy that was and not deny it’s brilliance. Cry over it’s loss. And open-handedly accept the present.
This is the way to teach our kids to lean in to life, by example of the fleeting, the lost, the changing, the present.
All this because we chose to trust joy.