In my early 30’s I’ve realized that Lebanon, the place where I’ve lived over a decade wasn’t the ideal place for me to live any longer. As I was working like a bee, making good income, yet I was failing to have my basic needs meet. Romantic relationships were getting more and more disappointing. I was concerned about my future. And I was definitely not Joyful.
That’s when I’ve grabbed the first opportunity and moved to Saudi Arabia to work for a highly respectful prince and his beautiful wife.. It was a turning point in my life, not just I experienced flying to all over the World with private jets, enjoyed five star hotels, and cruised stunning islands with yachts. I had generous amount of time to develop professionally gaining new knowledge. The best part of it all, was that I met my handsome and wonderful husband in no time, got married, and had our first child.
It all sounds like a fairy tale when I write it down now, but I promise you it wasn’t, it was very scary, very vulnerable. At first as a 33 year old bachelorette I was very worried, that I might not have the chance to meet the right guy, or build a family, given the fact that I was going to be traveling most of the time with work. When I met my other half in actually no time, I was worried if I would be able to keep the job. Then I started worrying about the future of my family in Saudi Arabia.. and on and on..
I’ve been coaching various people with different cultures and backgrounds for a decade now, I observe the same kind of behavior with almost everyone I work with, and yes I’m not an exception to the rule, we people are scared to be joyful, we think if we’re happy, something has to go wrong to balance it out. At first we don’t even have a clue of what joy and happiness are, but the moment we experience something that feels like joy we get scared of it.
I do believe that this guilt and fearful feeling upon experiencing joy has it’s roots in the way we’ve brought up, look around you, from schools, to traditions to religious institutions, everything is based on fear.. School for example has made a great deal to make me understand that being exceptional in mathematics, biology and sports is not good enough, I should also be advanced in history, geography and all (which I had no interest) or else I would fail.. literally conditioning me that if I’m only outstanding in practicing what I love, and what brings me joy, I’ll face consequences. My culture has taught me about my ancestors and how much they’ve struggles to have what they had, although I sympathize and I feel very sad to how much they had to go through, I would have loved my parents to emphasize about their accomplishments, achievements, and successes more. My church on the other hand has successfully planted the seed in me that if I enjoy life without thanking God, or giving to the poor, I may be punished, instead of teaching me how unconditional God’s love is..
None of them told me, that I should actually do what my heart tells me to do, that if I’m happy, and if I take care of myself, I can take better care of others around me, that the only person who could truly punish myself is ME.
The author Dr. Brené Brown after over fourteen years of research on vulnerability, has found that “Joy is the most vulnerable emotion we experience,” Brown says. “And if you cannot tolerate joy, what you do is you start dress rehearsing tragedy.”. She also mentions that the only way to overcome the fear of joy is to actively practice gratification.
I’m making it my duty to change the way we condition ourselves, therefore our kids; JOY is our birth right, it’s not scary, and the only way to be joyful is to be grateful, to appreciate what you have vs. focusing on what you don’t have. I want to teach my child to embrace joy, and the only way I can do that is by leading by example. Therefore I’m challenging myself and you, to tell me what you’re grateful for, every single day.
Today I’m grateful to you and your valuable time and attention.