5 Hacks for Unleashing the Power of Joy
This face. It’s something I am known for.
When the focus of my career was on healthy entertainment, I had the opportunity to travel to all sorts of festivals to facilitate joy through human connection.
On the last day of one of these festivals, I had an idea. What if I led surprise flash mobs across the campgrounds, as a finale to the festival?
This photo is from one of those flash mobs.
I arrived on my bike, with tunes blaring from a giant boombox on my back, wearing a neon jacket and a pink hat. Everyone was sitting down, eating breakfast. I was focussed.
With wild gestures and a wild smile, I jumped off my bike and invited everyone out of their seats to join me in a spontaneous celebration.
And it was a rush. Everyone jumped up off their seats with a roar and joined in. A crowd of positive vibes flooded the campground.
At the end of the dancing, I asked everyone “Who has a positive, inspirational message to share with the group?” Microphone in-hand, I created the space for people to uplift one another further.
This photo was captured after the gentlemen on the left shared. He said something along the lines of “This is one of the best moments of my life, thank you!”
Moments like these have convinced me that there is something really powerful about joy.
But, this power lies dormant in most of our interactions.
Certainly, joy is not as normalized in the real world as it is at a festival. But that does not mean joy does not have a huge benefit to humans.
Social-bonding, stress-reduction, creativity, psychological safety, physical energy… A regular joy practice has offered me many benefits.
As a celebration scientist, I have explained scientifically the benefits of joy too many times before. So let’s skip to the practices, the actions you can take to unleash the power of joy in your personal AND professional relationships.
#1 REFLECT IT BACK.
When someone expresses joy, reflect it back at them with your body. If you look closely at someone’s smile, it’s very difficult not to smile, right? When I witness someone expressing joy, I fully witness it, first-of-all. Then, I smile back, both with my face and with my body language. This amplifies the joy in the interaction.
#2 COMPLIMENT AND APPRECIATE OTHERS.
My morning practice involves sending a message of appreciation to someone who has positively impacted me. This fills me with joy. Joy is created in the other person, which triggers joy in you. But also, the act is joyful.
#3 ACKNOWLEDGE AND WISH STRANGERS WELL.
I get it. It’s a pandemic. It’s not the time to be connecting with strangers. But there’s a safe ways to do it. Even a simple smile and wave can elevate your mood. What I recommend is making a habit out of saying hello to strangers and wishing them a peaceful day. It feels good when they smile back, and it may lead to some serendipitous connections.
#4 DON’T TAKE YOURSELF SO SERIOUSLY.
Self-compassion versus beating yourself up. When you make a small mistake, laugh at your fallibility instead of talking yourself down. Being human has a lot of quirks. We forget things, we spill things, we say things. I have habituated myself to laughing at my trivial mistakes. It fills me with joy and does not deplete my motivation or confidence.
#5 TAKE INTERPERSONAL RISKS.
I had to end it with a bang!!! By taking interpersonal risks, you lead the way. You make it safe for others to express themselves. An interpersonal risk could be as simple as sharing a joke, initiating a game, or expressing joy yourself. Generally, emotional expression makes it safe for others to emotionally express themselves. My favorite interpersonal risk is dancing.