Gauging Your Joy

Nope. This isn’t my Halloween costume. It’s a picture of me on my mom’s 70th birthday. It’s one of many pictures I keep on hand to remind me not to take life too seriously. How can I with a flock of flamingos on my head?

 Image by Leigh Whelpton

Image by Leigh Whelpton

One of my gauges of how things are going in my life is laughter. If I’m not laughing, something is off. My friends joke that my laugh is a Libby homing beacon allowing them to find me down winding hallways or in crowded rooms. I love this concept. I absolutely want to draw amazing people to me with my joy and laughter.

That’s why I know something is off when there’s a laughter shortage. Without fail it’s my indicator that something in my life needs to shift. This is especially true when the laughter has been swapped out for tears.

But how to shift things? As soon as I realize something is off, I check in with my body to see where I’m holding tension — because if there are tears there is tension. Our bodies know. So deeply. I start with three deep breaths feeling my body expand with the additional movement. Plus, it’s pretty common that I’ve fallen into a shallow breath pattern if I’m feeling out of sorts.

As my body relaxes and my mind quiets, I begin a slideshow of what’s happening in my life. Think of it like an awesome 80s montage of what you’re up to in the here and now. As each image flashes through my mind, I pay attention to how my body is contracting or expanding. If it’s expanding, awesome. High fives all around. If it’s contracting, that warrants a bit more introspection. Is there a specific spot in my body that feels tight? Am I pushing myself too hard in a particular area of my life? Have I been saying yes when really my answer is no?

The longer I sit with it, the more clarity that follows. Once I’ve gotten clear I can take action! What can I start doing? What can I stop doing? What brings me immediate joy? And lo and behold, things start to change and the laughter meter in my life goes way up!

How about you — how do you know when something is off kilter in your life? How do you shift things back to joy?

Adapted from Instagram.