One of the first things I think I have to do is acknowledge that bad things do happen. Just look at the news any day. But by tempering any joy with a sense of foreboding doom you can't experience the true "Ka-POW" of ANY joy. Whether it is a matter of I don't think I deserve to be happy (something I struggle with now while being off work ---and getting waves of feeling like why can't I just suck it up and get back at it) or I believe that being joyful is tempting fate to dump a truck load of misery on my doorstep--I am not sure. Probably a bit of both working there.
So assuage foreboding joy--I guess I have to slowly, cautiously invite Joy in--while employing lots of positive self talk.
I remember on my first day of the adult day treatment program, the recreation therapist rolled a cart full of pains and paintbrushes, sticker, markers, pots, boxes and other craft supplies into the room. She explained the importance of recreation in recovery. There were maybe 16 of us -- and for five of us it was our first day. had one hour for arts and crafts. "Senior" patients rolled out a paint splattered tarp over the table and began to converge on the cart. I was going to sit at a table with these strangers and do a craft for an hour ---really??
"You are never too old to have a happy childhood! You need to think about what makes you happy and do that!" I had no idea what made me happy other than being left alone. Seriously, I could not think of a single thing (well snuggling my 8 year old but...) something just for me? Blank stare....
So I painted a clay pot--blue and green--and added stickers--and put a clear coat over top. The hour flew buy and I couldn't believe how much I had enjoyed painting. I was always a bit crafty but Ka-POW--there it was---a moment of Joy. No time for the foreboding...it just snuck up on me.
Tapping into joy, without foreboding, means you are opening yourself up to emotions in general. This is the tricky part because it opens you up to being vulnerable. Fortunately, I never thought about how I might feel if I got paint on myself....if someone criticised my work.... I just painted.
And what happened was, the other patients said they liked what I did, they thought I did a good job, and it was pretty. I felt great! Hmmmm Joy feeds Joy and it grows. By the end, everyone was complimenting each others work, or efforts at least. Woah. This was new......
So painting connected to the artistic/crafty me that I had forgotten about. One of the common signs of depression is when you stop doing what you love. I loved being creative, I loved using my hand...and any item I have made whether if brings me joy or made me laugh has a story attached to it and was born from a passion to create. At the time, I definitely wanted more of that.
How can I bring more Joy into my life? One way is through creative expression. And while the finished product is good--the process of creating is even better.