We’ve all heard about EI (Emotional Intelligence) or IQ (Intelligence Quota). But have you ever heard of a Joy IQ?
Are you intelligent at connecting with joy? After 20 years of helping clients move from trauma/drama to joy, I have found there IS a way to measure your Joy IQ or your ability to connect to the “consciousness of joy.” Sure it can be easier when things are good, but what about connecting to joy when things are tough? Much harder, I bet. Yet, besides eating more fish -yeah for Omega 3’s-, sleeping better, smiling more and daily exercise, there ARE proven things you can do to create and connect with more joy in your life, regardless of what is going on. Research is showing that joy is more than genetics, conditioning and circumstance (AND it’s fantastic for your health). So let’s take a look beyond EI and IQ and dive into what it takes to Raise Your “Joy IQ.”
So, take for example one of my former clients, “Ali.” Ali came to see me after a break up. She felt depressed, stressed and said her life was miserable. Her “Joy IQ” or capacity to experience and connect with joy, was at an all time low. She was at what I call the “joy busting stage”, beating up on herself and feeling hopeless. The things she was doing to feel better, which normally worked, were not helping her.
You may be able to relate to Ali having asked yourself before,
“How did my life get here?
I’ve tried so many things and yet I’m still not feeling better.
What CAN I do to change this?”
Ali hated feeling bad. After several sessions, I gave her a series of mind-body-spirit meditations to do at home and I took her through a process called The Inner Counselor TM. Immediately she began to feel better. The break up wasn’t the only problem, but old thinking and feeling patterns AND trauma from the past had slipped into her psyche and were taking advantage of her while she was already down. It’s crazy how that happens so often. We got to the “root of the problem” very soon and for the first time, Ali could feel more joy, more whole (less broken) and more accepting and understanding of herself, break up and all. Now, this is what I call a joy transformation.
So what happened during these weeks of Ali and I working together? There were several shifts that science has now proven which helped Ali “Raise her Joy IQ.” First, she was willing to go fully (100%) into her pain (which takes courage) yet it made space for positive emotions to come back inside. Secondly, she re-evaluated her expectations of herself and her life and found ways to re-engage with her inner, most loving self -that’s a huge joy builder. And finally, she reconnected to passion, love and joy because her energy to do the things she loved came back. She felt lighter and “like herself” again, but an even, better, updated version.
Let me show you 5 proven ways you can raise your Joy IQ starting today. Because none of us want to be stuck in the joy buster phase Ali was in now, do we?
5 Proven Ways to Raise Your Joy IQ
1) If you’re going to do something, throw yourself 100% into it! (be 100% present)
Research shows that we are only present in our day 50% of the time. (and with cell phones it’s probably less). As a member of a culture of constant distraction, we tend to multi task ourselves to death. This, my friend, zaps our joy.
A recent study by psychologists at Harvard shows that even if you don’t “like” something you are doing, if you throw yourself into it, 100%, it will bring you more joy. Being fully present with something allows the “flow state” to kick in and as a result we have a fuller experience and more joy. So fully “get into” whatever is going on in your life and see what happens!! As we saw above, Ali gave herself fully to her healing process and it paid off. http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/profile/
2) Choose things that create positive emotion inside of you- they’re good for your heart too.
I know this sounds like a no brainer but how often do we forgo the good feeling thing that brings us joy for the “to do list of should” that often can wait if we are really honest with ourselves.
Research shows (2010 study) that for every 1-point increase (on a scale of 1-5) of positive emotion, coronary heart disease risk drops by 22%. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2862179/ Now this is big news and better than any vitamin or drug outcome I know of regarding mind-body health. So let’s get in there and get some good joy juice flowing. If you don’t know where to start, make a list of things that bring you positive emotion (Ex. being in nature which is a natural serotonin booster, or time with friends which ups your immunity or a good comedy). Your longevity depends on it.
If you even added one extra thing a day that created a positive emotion inside of you, I bet you would raise your joy IQ in a big way over time. Do you remember the saying, “the riches are in the niches?”
Bonus joy hint: So is the joy! Small things make a difference. Ali’s positive emotions returned naturally and so can yours.
3) Lower your intensity level and create realistic expectations about joy.
Joy doesn’t have to be the heart pounding, exhilarating event of your lifetime. In fact, a 2005 study showed that the happiest people average 6 fewer beats per minute in their heart rate. As a psychologist, this tells me that joyful people are less stressed and anxious and more content than unhappy people. Peaceful and nurturing activities bring us joy.
Our compulsion to be stimulated in an “over the top fashion” doesn’t necessarily bring the lasting joy we are looking for. I am not saying, stop the sky diving or give up the rock climbing, just make sure you have those nurturing, stabilizing and balancing people, places and things that support your system in place and soak in the inevitable joy that this brings. Your heart will thank you for it. Overtime, Ali created realistic expectations of herself and others regarding her situation and reached out for support’ which created more peace and joy.
4) Be present with yourself and your patterns.
Do you ignore your deeper needs? If so, you may tend to “react” more to life’s ups and downs in a way that zaps your joy. People who ignore their deeper needs have more anxiety, and feel more “out of control”. They also have a tendency to shame, blame or beat themselves or others up. Being present to your needs and knowing what you need gives you more control.
In leading Mindfulness Meditation courses, after 8 weeks of “being present” with yourself and your patterns, participants had an increased sense of positive control, understanding and compassion for themselves. These qualities create better relationships, better self-esteem and increased self-love which are all joy builders. As the ancient philosopher, Socrates said, “Know Thyself!” Ali carved out time to be present with herself and her patterns- inside and out. This freed her up for more and more joy and it can for you as well.
5) Find your natural passion and share it with others.
What do you do well?
What are your strengths and do you share them with others?
Where is the win-win in your life the easiest?
Find your sweet spot where what your offer brings you as much joy as it does the other. This is a sure way to Raise your Joy IQ. This place of reciprocity brings natural joy and creates a mutual relationship of love and joy between you and the receiver.
Do you love growing flowers? Take one to the neighbor. Do you love to cook? Share a meal with your friend. Do you love to play tennis? Mentor some kids at the local YMCA where they are always looking for volunteers.
Sharing your passion does not always bring in the big bucks, but it will pay you back in the joy it brings to you and others. My mentors used to say…passion is the pipeline to your Soul. In this place it’s easier to be ‘all in” and fully present because you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else! Playing volleyball, writing and working with clients are several of my win-win’s. Ali found passion again for life and for herself. She was ready to re-engage in the next adventure and open up again instead of being stuck in unwanted emotions. As you can see, it is within your capacity to raise your joy IQ and to do it naturally. If you are curious about what your Joy IQ is… check it out here for free. Wishing you joy, love and permanent freedom from old patterns!