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How to Rediscover Joy and Bring it into Your Life

by the author of "Before the World Intruded: Conquering the Past and Creating the Future"

by Michele Rosenthal,

There was a time in my life I was certain joy did not exist. I'd survived a very horrific illness, made a full recovery and found myself in a pit of post traumatic despair. How could there be joy in that kind of desolation? It took me a while to discover that joy doesn't exist or not exist. Joy is like air: it's everywhere. The key was my decision to hold my breath or deeply inhale. I decided to inhale.

My rediscovery of joy began with a small glimmer of hope. I didn't feel hope, per se; I just had the tiny flickering of an idea that maybe one day I would again feel some extreme pleasure and happiness. I wanted that to be true. From this fragile beginning grew a great hope that I would, some day, laugh the way I saw others laughing, smile the way I saw others smile and radiate happiness as I saw others do. I didn't know how I would achieve any of this but in the beginning, knowing how wasn't necessary. Hoping was enough to pluck the idea of joy out of thin air and bring it into my universe.

I built up this hope by adding to it the belief that I was able to experience joy. I started thinking back to the past, remembering when I used to feel deep pleasure, and what made it occur. Clearly, I had the capacity for joy back then. I decided to believe that capacity existed in me still.

With the firm idea of joy in the past, I began noticing when I felt the urge toward happiness in the present. Even in depression, there are fleeting seconds when we feel the desire to feel better. I focused on those and tried to follow where they lead. For example, the first time I saw a Wheaten Terrier on a street corner something in me leaped for joy. Not only was the dog adorable but she wiggled with such mirth. Something in me responded; I dropped to my knees, embraced her and decided I had to have such furry happiness in my life. It didn't take long for me to find a Wheatie of my own.

When I brought Baylee home he was ten weeks old and eleven pounds of pure puppy joy. Having him in my daily world -- giggling at his silliness, benefiting from his cuddliness -- gave me a way to access joy in response to something else. With the pressure off, I let Baylee create the joy I desired. All I had to do was allow myself to engage with it. The longer I was around him the more adept I began to be at allowing a joyful feeling to be present, and accepting its capacity for growth.

As my ability to hope for, believe in and engage with joy grew, I began wanting to create it for myself. This turned out to be the most exciting part of how I discovered joy and brought it into my life. I knew, from looking backward, that when I danced I always felt joyful and free. Looking ahead, I decided to dance more often as a way to deliberately create the joy I desired. I signed up for dance lessons every day of the week.

Putting myself on a joy schedule immeasurably grew my ability to create, engage with and access joy. In fact, I developed a joy habit.Doing this caused enormous change in me. With a daily dose of joy, my attitude in all areas of my life shifted. I began looking forward to each day, opened my heart to the light of living in the present rather than grieving an experience in the past, and allowed myself to begin creating a future wholly in alignment with who I most deeply wanted to be: a woman who experienced joy often and in many ways.

Shakespeare wrote, "Things won are done, joy's soul lies in the doing." In order to discover, experience and hold on to joy, each of us has to do something. Finding your way back to joy begins with the desire for it, moves forward through the choice to experience it, and expands infinitely through actions that bring it into your daily life.

© 2012 Michele Rosenthal, author of Before the World Intruded: Conquering the Past and Creating the Future

Michele Rosenthal,
author of Before the World Intruded: Conquering the Past and Creating the Future, is a trauma survivor who struggled with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for over 25 years. Today, Michele joyfully lives 100% free of PTSD symptoms.

The host of "Your Life After Trauma" on Seaview Radio, Michele is a mental health advocate, public speaker, award-winning blogger, writer, workshop/seminar leader and Post-Trauma Identity Coach.

For more information please visit http://www.yourlifeaftertrauma.com, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter

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