Finding joy this holiday season…Yeah, right…

Creating positive life experiences is critical if you are down, depressed, unhappy, and without joy. This generally involves a few steps- a necessary first one includes making the time for pleasant events. This means actively seeking out what is desired, what matters, and what is important. But creating positive life experiences is more than just looking for positive life experiences. It also means being willing to absorb, receive, feel, and benefit from them once they show up.

Here is a list of not-so-un-common factors that can really get in the way of experiencing joy:

*Thinking or believing that if you express joy, contentment, or happiness people will think that you “don’t have anything to be upset about”, thus making your pain invalid; or that people won’t “get it” if you show contentment/ receive comfort.

*Thinking or believing that you don’t deserve happiness, contentment, or joy.

*Minimizing, attacking, or downplaying small moments of happiness, joy, or contentment (“This is trite/boring/dumb”).

*Becoming critical, judging yourself, or constantly comparing yourself to others to who have what you want.

*Thinking or believing that you were born with innate or problematic characteristics (You don’t get to have positive experiences because there is something fundamentally wrong with you).

*Minimizing or downplaying what you like, what you want, or what you experience.

*Avoiding letting people know what you like/want so they won’t “get you”, expect things from you, or have the option of getting close to you

*Hypervigilance for the next “bomb” that’s going to drop

*Avoiding happy people at all costs because it highlights the fact that you are missing out big time.

Looking for joy in the moment is a skill that takes practice, time, commitment, and in some cases, quite a bit of effort. It involves your participation in the fullest way possible. It’s about jumping in, taking risks, expressing curiosity, showing up, and being alive.

Sometimes it means letting go of what gets in the way of joy, and sometimes that involves risk.