How often do you experience joy? I have been trying to recount the number of times I have laughed so hard snot flew from my nose and tears came to my eyes. I have been thinking about the magnetism of joyous people. I have been thinking about the sound of children on a playground. I have been thinking about the look on my nieces’ faces when they showed me their new puppy Christmas morning a few years ago. Joyful people fill our hearts. Sounds of joy resonate beyond what words can explain. Joyful times are precious.
Novelist Justine Musk believes that joy is as vital to life as air. Ultimately, she says our survival as a species depends on our ability to be joyous, innovative, fearless, and creative. I agree with her! Musk looks to author Ben Cosnocha who explores in his book The Start Up of You, the idea that we are all now entrepreneurs of our own lives. Musk summarizes, “Creative joy — if you’re willing to listen to it — is the unifying thread that leads you from one dot to the other to the other until you can connect them or ‘stitch together’ into a greater whole.”
What does it mean to be an entrepreneur in a life guided by creative joy? It appears to me several things need to happen along the road to creative joy.
- Research creative joy
I completed a doctoral dissertation focused on the existential concept of wide-awakeness a few years ago. (Creative joy seems a conceptual sister of wide-awakeness.) I looked at the role of the high school drama teacher in creating the capacity for wide-awakeness in students. Thinking back to my own profound high school drama experience, my life was changed/ruined/saved by the fire that was awakened as I felt the power of being a cast member, the rhythm of the music as we danced, and the resonance of the lyrics and lines we performed. It all happened with a gentle yet fierce intensity reserved for moments when a soul burns. I was the teen-age embodiment of creative joy. Now, I am turning my highly trained researcher’s gaze to the creative joy in my day-to-day life.
When do you feel joyful? Where do you feel joyful? What brings you joy?
- Know creative joy
Having researched creative joy, the next step is to know creative joy. Knowing creative joy means being able to sense joy in the very synapses of our beings, to have identified moments when we feel so incredibly joyful that my muscles can remember the experience. This is theory-building time in which we personalize what creative bad-ass joy is for each of us. This is where theory builds from personal experience. It is the intersection of awareness and presence.
What is joy to you? How would you describe joy to a friend? To your children?
- Create creative-badass joy
This is the moment where theory meets practice, where thought meets action, where we put up or shut up. To create means to build, construct, and manifest creative joy in our lives. It is not enough to sit behind a computer screen and think about creative joy. We must get out there and live joyfully. It means creating something everyday. It means reaching out to others as both a creative and spiritual being. It means living out a creative and joyful mission. (Researching and knowing your creative and joyful selves is central to defining your mission, and ultimately to living your mission.)
What do you do to be joyful? How do you create joy?
- Protect creative joy
Once cultivated, honoring and holding creative joy close is vital. Pressure and stress in day-to-day life do not lend themselves to creative joy. (In fact, I would argue that life tries to thwart creative joy.) Turning toward joy. Moving in the direction of what is joyful. Choosing joy. Defending joy in the face of fear and cynicism are part of the creative joy equation.
How do you make joy a priority in your life? What do you let go of to protect joy? What do you keep at the expense of joy?
- Share creative joy
Intentionally sharing our creative and joyful selves is the heart of Musk’s call. Living as creative and joyful entrepreneurs means our mission and work are not separate. In working, we are multiplying creative joy and responding to our deepest call. In sharing creative joy, we are building a more just and loving world.
How do you share creative joy? How do creative and joyous people share joy with you?