It’s normal not to feel joyful

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Courtesy of www.eatfitlive.com

Recently I was chatting to someone about Make Me Joyful and the general sense of merriment I try to create. I explained about Random Acts of Joy, Happiness being Handwritten and Leveraging the Little Things. I described hiding book tokens, organising cupcake drops and tying balloons to trees. I chattered with excitement, passion and love. And when I stopped, she looked at me and asked incredulously: “Are you always this up?”

The thing is, I’m not. And that’s just fine.

It occurred to me that when you’re trying to live a joyful life and inspire people to do the same, you can look a little one-dimensional. Like Mary Poppins on speed, but without the accommodating bag and the small children. You can seem a little fake and a lot irrelevant. And that’s not helpful.

Thankfully, it’s been a few years since my face down on the kitchen floor episodes, since ringing The Samaritans for, you know, just a casual chat and since the days when I decided it would actually be quite nice to be committed and abdicate responsibility for all things me. But that doesn’t mean that I’m always up.

The last couple of days are a good example. From Monday’s inexplicable day of tears where I didn’t even stop crying during dinner (prompting the waiter to give me a free brownie as he clearly thought I’d been given days left to live) to yesterday’s supreme rage where EVERYTHING WAS WRONG and NOTHING WAS RIGHT. And I wanted to scream with foot-stamping frustration and stress.

It’s important to remember that even when we choose to build our lives with joy at the foundations, it doesn’t mean that the less joyful feelings will disappear or indeed that they should. They’re not ‘bad’ feelings. We may feel like we’re failing if we’re not happy all the time. But, no. That’s just a tricksy way to make us feel even worse.

So, what do I do when I just feel looooooow.

1. Allow myself to feel what I’m feeling without judgment or self-torture, but without getting bogged down by the details.

2. Mix things up by chatting to someone, playing a great song, moving around, watching a comedy clip, dancing, paying someone a compliment, smiling at someone new, doing a Random Act of Joy or doing anything just to change my energy.

3. Focus on how I want to feel and what that would look like. What would I be doing, saying and experiencing? How would I be standing? How would I be breathing? Visualise this version of myself mentally and physically. 

Inexplicable sad moods are inevitable, but when we treat them with respect, decide how we want to feel and move towards feeling that way, we are no longer cowed by them. Mary Poppins comes back.

And now for today’s Random Act of Joy. It’s time for the Joyful Care Package to be delivered and this month it’s going to Melissa in Melbourne. Enjoy! Remember if you want to included in the draw for next month, sign up here:

And if you have any favourite mood-lifters then leave them in the comments below. Thanks!

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Thank you of the month – May

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As you know, it’s my life’s mission to make the world a more joyful place, as well as to work out the perfect eye-brow raise angle to disguise how wonky mine are.

Whether through the medium of blooms, baked goods or book tokens, I’m here to show that life gets better when we leverage the little things.

Nowhere is this more important than at work. From the letters I receive, the conversations that I have and my own personal experience, it’s clear that work is one of the places where joy seems woefully far away. This is something I would love to remedy, but in the meantime, May’s Thank You of the Month shows us that when there are people like Viv in the office, joy can be closer than we think.

The lovely Jan wrote to me to nominate Viv and I’m glad she did.

Over to Jan.

Viv makes me joyful because…

When you are very low, even a smile can be priceless and she hands them out in abundance.

I am currently in a really crappy relationship and I’ve taken to pouring my heart out to my colleague Viv. She’s been objective, kind and a great friend to talk to openly with.

As we live on the Isle of Man during one of our morning chats, I told her I’d not had a break in two years. That I’d not left the island and I felt that a day away may help me put my relationship with my bloke into perspective. I also went on to say that I knew I would back out of buying even a day trip ticket to Liverpool, as there was always something more pressing for my wages to go on.

I left the conversation at that as a work issue arose which we discussed; I thought no more of day trips and escaping.

Viv came back from her lunch a bit later than normal that day and I was a little concerned for her as she’s not been well and recently had major surgery. As I work in the reception of a factory, I saw her pull up and was relieved all was ok. She walked in looking sheepish with a massive smile on her face and handed me an envelope. Her exact words, ones I will never forget, were “that is for being you”. I opened the envelope and found tickets inside for a day trip to Liverpool for a Saturday two weeks later and was blown away.

Viv, out of pure unselfishness and kindness went out of her way to give me a gift I thought I wasn’t worthy of. She brought a smile to my face that I’d not had for five months and in one gesture she renewed my hope.

She’s a silent hero for me and a woman I can only hope to become half as good as, as she excels in so many ways of kindness.

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Thank you Viv xx

How wonderful is this? We frequently spend more time with our colleagues than our friends, so let’s all try to look out for them in the same way as we would our loved ones. Ok, not everyone is going to be our BFF (I can’t be the only one who has worked with people so frustrating I’ve wanted to staple things to their head) but if we cultivate an atmosphere of camaraderie and kindness then our work lives can only get better.

Whether it’s a friend, family member or even a kindly stranger,  if you’d like to honour someone publicly let me know who needs a special thank you (and a MMJ treat in the post) and email me your nominations now: hello@makemejoyful.com

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Letter love and cupcake drops

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I think my love affair with tissue paper pom-poms is over. I’ve been worrying that they’ve been putting themselves about a bit for quite some time and that they’ve lost their exclusive allure. Or perhaps it’s just a lovers’ tiff on the basis that they wouldn’t stay in their proper place on Tuesday night. My artful cluster of tissue paper goodness ruined as they insisted on falling to the floor.

But misbehaving poms aside, the Letter Writing Salon was a glorious night.

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The stationery buffet piled high with notes, stamps and sealing wax; the cocktails strong and the cakes abundant. But most importantly, a group of guests who spent the evening writing to friends and family around the world and decorating their letters with style and a frequent disregard for the wisdom that ‘less is more’. We learnt how to do calligraphy and we created typewritten art. We made new pen-friends and we matched sealing wax to our outfits. For me, it was a relaxing space with the freedom to get lost in our own words, whilst drifting in and out of the words of others. Socialising without stress. And of course the fun of a tombola.

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Seeing how much people enjoyed the evening was an absolute pleasure and their lovely words made it extra special. But what delights me all the more is the thought of those little pieces of art waiting on doormats ready to surprise their recipients. Joy compounded.

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Of course, being a feeder, I totally over catered on the cupcakes. Whoops. Even my most selfless efforts to polish them off didn’t make a dent. The solution came in the form of my Random Act of Joy for the week. A cupcake drop! 

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With a little string, sticker and stamping love, I created a package to be delivered to one of my lovely readers, Nicola, in SW1. It was a slightly comical journey to Chelsea on a Boris Bike, but the cupcakes and I made it in one piece (just).

Joy delivered.

I’ll be sharing more photos of the event very soon, and if you missed it this time then they’ll definitely be another. In the meantime, don’t wait. Send some handwritten happiness this weekend.

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