So this word came to me the other day: joygasm.
I immediately knew that it wasn’t mine, that I must have heard it somewhere, before, and surely enough–Urban Dictionary did not disappoint.
Here’s my definition of a joygasm, and it’s pretty simple: unrestrained, surrendered, ecstatic joy.
This is…the kind of joy that doesn’t try to “look cool.” The kind that isn’t predicated upon anything other than your own internal wellspring of unfettered, uncomplicated access to pleasure.
No second-guessing (“Do I deserve this?” “Is it okay for me to receive this?”).
And yep, you can experience the joygasm while experiencing the other kind of ‘gasm,’ but this is something sensual without (necessarily) being sexual.
The joygasm, pure and unfiltered could include: Ecstatic laughter as easily as exquisite silence. Biting into food so delicious that the taste seems to go beyond mouth and tongue. Core-shaking moments of gratitude that you are right here, right now–you are ALIVE, baby, and it alllll feels good.
And yes, I encourage you to experience multiple joygasms, on a regular basis.
Getting to the Joygasm
So how do you get there? How do you get to the joygasm?
It’s utterly surrendered. I don’t think you can plot the course. I don’t think that there is “how to.”
But–here are the top three things that I think get in the way.
#1: Over-commitment. When there aren’t enough serendipitous moments, when life is over-scheduled, it shuts down the inner kid side of ourselves that needs a certain amount of spontaneity in order to stay fully expressed. (“Jesus, Kate–you believe in that ‘inner kid’ shit?” And I say, “Oh yes, indeedy, I do.”)
We are a society that vacillates, wildly at times, between knuckling down into responsibility, and then spinning into excess.
Want to strike something even closely resembling a ‘balance’? Something where you reclaim your life, again? Where you have more access to the joygasm?
Reduce your commitments. Be responsible for fewer things, so as to be less driven to excess because the responsibilities feel over-bearing. Then you don’t skew from one extreme to the other.
#2: Rumination. Particularly, rumination on the past, on how he or she done did me wrong. By “past,” here, I don’t even think we need to talk about your childhood–it would be fair to say that most of us can readily find examples of ruminating on what someone said or did, whether it’s a family member or that guy who cut you off in traffic.
Rumination is a waste of time. It creates a cascade of biochemical responses in the body that lead to you feeling like shit about yourself, your life, and the people in it. If you’re going to ruminate on something, ruminate on the most joyful experiences on your life. Even if they’ve been few and far between, ruminate on them until the current moment is joyful because you’re recalling joy.
That’s a choice.
#3: Living in Logic and Strategy. Strategy is one of my strengths. I geek out on it. And the moment when I’ve carefully considered a challenge, and found my way to a logical answer that makes such perfect sense that all sense of anxiety disappears? Love it.
But 100% fully-alive living doesn’t happen when you live your life wholly from logic and strategy. Logic and strategy support life, but the surrendered, creative impulse is where we are going to FEEL most alive.
Sometimes, logic or strategizing keep us from what we truly desire. When we deny what we’re really hungry for, everything inside will scream that we are out of integrity with ourselves. Logic will dictate that the stakes are high and that you’ve got to play your cards just right if you want a particular outcome, but we’ve all heard stories of people who decided to just drop their striving, and to their surprise, things came to them with ease.
There’s a time for logic and strategy, but when I spend too many days living there, it crowds out the joygasm. Logic and strategy create an environment of restraint, and restraint can create a lovely creative tension.
The joygasm is the creative tension, bursting forth, unleashed, wild. The joygasm is the untamed, rebellious, renegade within you.
Where This is Going
I’ve spent many years writing about the necessity of looking at hard truths, getting to the core even when it’s scary or painful. I have used my fear in a way that most people don’t–I’ve used it as a path to liberation and more fully-alive living.
I’ve used my fear because there was such an abundance of it, because it was a ready tutor, and because I see so clearly that fear would always be present on some level, as long as I was taking risks and trying new things–no point in trying to bullshit myself or anyone else, and avoid it.
Recently, I was thinking about using joy as a path to liberation, and realized: my skillset is not as finely honed in that area.
Whoa–what a revelation!
I have total confidence in walking alongside people in the hard things in life. I have been in rooms with people who were (literally) screaming their pain, making noises so primal that most people would be terrified to bear witness, and instead of being terrified, I found myself connected to the honesty of that pain, fully expressed (I’m not afraid of what’s honest).
I live a joyful life–but I’ve arrived at the joy by working through the hard things, by going into my own primal screaming and pain, to come out the other side.
So–what is there to explore simply by going straight into the joy?
This reminded me of a conversation I had with Brene Brown a few years ago, where we talked about how joy could feel surprisingly vulnerable.
Can you feel it, too? How there’s that tingle of hesitation, the surrender, the ecstasy, the–dare I say it?– “loss of control” that true, unrestrained joy carries with it?
This summer, despite the dictates of logic, I’m going to be experimenting with multiple joygasms, daily. I’m curious to see what effect that will have on every area of my life, from my health to my marriage to my friendships.
The current plan is simply this: more play, as a prescription for life.
Appointments? Taken off the calendar.
Teaching position I was offered? Released.
Plans for various health-related treatments? On hiatus. (I’m very curious about the healing powers of joy).
Swapping that out for: books and lots of reading. slowing down. attending all those music and film festivals that I always say I’ll go to and don’t quite make it to. more coffee dates with friends. I might not be answering emails. Two beach houses have been booked. Kansas City in June, and Portland for WDS in July.
Fewer work commitments. More focused attention to clean up any lingering points of rumination. And naturally, since I’ll be releasing income-making opportunities, clearly “logic and strategy” have been thrown out the door. The “logical” and “strategic” thing to do this summer would be to spend it working, business building.
But the promise of the joygasm cannot be denied.
Again, that question: What is there to explore by going straight into the joy, without first thinking you’ve got to “figure it out” or dissect or analyze life, the past, what happened, what the challenges are?
Consider for yourself: How would you answer that question? What’s more available to you, if you go straight into living from your joy?
After my last post about the courage of conviction, many people shared with me that reading it, they had a deeper sense that they were on the right track. Knowing that they were afraid and that the road was hard, they were still pulled by their conviction to keep on, keeping-on.
“Everything you wrote, told me that this is really worth it,” said one person, someone who’s “in it” with her business right now, but who knows that she simply can’t pull back, because it’s too important to her. That’s what conviction looks like.
Other people worried. They worried that I was talking to them, and tacitly saying that they shouldn’t be aiming for the path of entrepreneurship.
So this is what I want to say to the people who worried:
I don’t have any idea what anyone “should” or “shouldn’t” be doing. That’s up to you.
I only know this: that conviction is critical, and that the world tries to tell people that the only way they can have an impact is through striking it out in some big, blustery way such as the arena of entrepreneurship.
And–that simply. isn’t. true.
There are a million other infinite possibilities for you, and you simply cannot do your very best, most amazing, most impactful work–the work grounded in your convictions–if you’re trying to fit it into a medium that does not fit you.
I’m not interested in what’s trendy, and what’s trendy right now is running an online business. Online businesses, however? They’re just the “medium,” the vehicle. It’s not the only vehicle around.
Keep dreaming big; keep aiming high. Keep emerging. Keep standing out as a leader.
Just understand that big dreams don’t always end up in blog posts. Aiming high doesn’t need to relate to income projections. Emerging is not about visibility through social media followers.
And leadership? Leadership is not predicated on having a website and a “Buy Now” button.
But big dreams, aiming high, emerging, and leadership DO have one thing in common: Conviction.
You choose the medium.
“So what do you want to revolutionize, in the world?”
I’ve asked this question in one-on-one strategy sessions, in marketing seminars, in small groups. Sometimes I vary the flavor: “What do you want your clients to shift the most?” I’ll ask, or I’ll go for the big vision. “What’s one thing that, if everyone in the world started to practice this or do this differently, the whole world would be different?”
I meet so many people who are wise, articulate, genuine. They’re the types of friends you call when you need a good listener, the kind who’s going to be a champion for you doing what’s right for you. Coaching seems like such a natural fit.
But…things keep stalling. Blogging is inconsistent. There’s resistance to getting a newsletter going or expanding beyond Facebook for social media.
And underneath that, over and over, what I hear is:
“I don’t know what to say.”
Not blogging regularly? “I couldn’t figure out what to write [vlog, record an audio, put up a picture, interview someone else] about.”
Not getting a newsletter? “If people want to hear from me, wouldn’t they go to my website? They know I’m there.”
Not being on Twitter? “Ugh, I hate social media. It’s such a time suck. I don’t even like Facebook.”
Conviction. n. a strong persuasion or belief; the state of being convinced (Merriam-Webster online dictionary).
Critical to success in business? Having a conviction that is of service to others.
Tara Gentile isn’t just some business consultant. She has a conviction about how we create businesses that provide genuine value. Everything about what Tara offers stands out because she eats books on biz for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and geeks out on talking strategy. That’s passion that translates to conviction.
Alexandra Franzen isn’t just another copywriter. She has a conviction about the power of the written word and how we use that for, as she puts it, “ecstatic self-expression.” Everything about what Alex offers stands out because she has…you got it: a position that she explores, a conviction about what’s possible when people liberate themselves through words.
Anna Guest-Jelley, the founder of Curvy Yoga, isn’t just another yoga teacher. She has a conviction about how to make yoga available to people of all body shapes, especially those who are traditionally ignored in yoga classes. Everything about Anna stands out because–and she’s not a raging extrovert, screaming her opinions–she has a conviction about what yoga can be for people and how she can be of service.
Tara, Alex, and Anna are just three examples. Most importantly, they’re examples of people who are so passionate about their convictions that it’s like they almost can’t help themselves. They have something to say, and they want to say it to as many people as possible, for the good of all.
They want to get inside it. They want to explore it from every angle. They don’t need to shout it, but the courage of conviction is so present that it weaves a thread through all of their work.
Conviction Can’t Be Cherry-Picked
I wake up from dreams where my muse has said something to me that I have to write down. I pull over to the side of the road about once a week to record a blog post idea into my iPhone. I think about courage and fear every single day–and that is no joke. I go to workshops. I order $100 worth of books every other month from Amazon. “Courageous” is tattooed in sanskrit on my shoulder. Conversations with friends become the material for my next video.
Oh, there’s a wait at the restaurant before they can seat us at a table? Let me check what my peeps are doing on Twitter. If I’m on Google chat with Brigitte Lyons or eating macrobiotic soup with Valerie Tookes? We might start out with details on our latest cycling adventure or a trip to India, but at some point, it’s inevitable that we are going to be talking about the next course we want to run and the sales pages we’re working on.
My convictions about the importance of people practicing courage are not just the work I sit down to; they’re my living, breathing life.
Lacking conviction is a sign–a big one–that something is off.
Most “business marketing how-to” teaches people how to articulate their conviction. There’s an assumption that the conviction is there in the first place and it just has to be worded correctly for the market.
But here’s the thing: some people are actually going into business, but lacking conviction. The conviction drives the machine. It’s everything.
Conviction can’t be cherry-picked; it’s etched in your soul. When you’ve got something big to share with the world, things can get a little compulsive (see above).
If you’re lacking conviction and are chronically unsure of what you want to say, this prompts a difficult question:
Despite all the promises of money (ha!) and glamour (ha!), is entrepreneurship really the best match for the gifts you have to offer?
What Really Lights Your Fire?
I’m not speaking to the people came out of the womb knowing that they were always meant to be the Boss Lady, and they just need some help getting the wording right.
I’m talking to the people who are smart, savvy, loyal, in-integrity women who have a lot to share, but if they were 100% honest? Entrepreneurship and its lifestyle is not (really-really and truly-truly) their yen. They might not have even considered other alternatives.
Sometimes, entrepreneurship is something that people turn to when they are trying to flee a job they don’t like, to feel empowered and call the shots, to try and strike it rich from the comforts of their own homes.
There’s nothing wrong with leaving shitty jobs, calling the shots, or striking it rich.
Something is definitely wrong with choosing entrepreneurship as the medium, simply because you’re assuming that this is the only place where you can do work that lights you up.
Love for the Wing-Women
Lots of people need smart, savvy, in-integrity, loyal, hardworking wing-women.
Wing-Women aren’t necessarily the innovators or the visioneers on the front lines, but they have a shit-ton of heart and soul and they’re exactly who you want on your team.
The same skills they might otherwise apply to coaching (listening, being a champion of taking right action, offering insights, asking great questions that expand the work) could be just as valued in a working collaboration with someone else. They are co-conspirators, so to speak.
It’s not that they aren’t on the front lines because they can’t be, it’s that they know that being wing-women is what makes them come fully alive in the same way that neurotic entrepreneurs light up at the thought of registering a new domain name.
Astonishing truth: entrepreneurship is not the answer for everyone.
We live in a culture that lights the fireworks for the pioneers who stick their necks out first, without acknowledging that for every one visible risk-taker, there are a hundred people who supported and nourished that person to flourish.
There are a hundred other ways to engage with something you’re passionate about, other than starting a business and bringing into your life the tasks that it can entail to make things work and get off the ground.
To know if you’re on the right track, know what your convictions are, and let them lead the way, center-stage.