Are you looking to experience greater joy in your life, but can’t seem to quite get there? There are so many wonderful ways that we can experience joy in life. My book “The ABC’s of Joyful Living” talks of at least 26 of those ways. But sometimes no matter how many things we’re doing to create joy in our life, there are some things that we’re also doing that trap true joy from coming through as powerfully as it wants to. Here are three common things that trap joy.
Trap #1 Comparison
“Comparison is the thief of Joy” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
Comparison takes on many forms and voices including some silent ones that we may not think are really making comparisons. But in any form and any voice, loud or silent, comparison is a serious trap to joy. Often our comparisons aren’t just to other people but also to ourselves and how we used to be or wish we were.
“I’m not as successful as she is.” “I’ll never look that good and skinny.” “If only I could talk to others and make a sale like he does.” “I can’t do that pose properly like she can.” “I was so much better at this before, there must be something wrong with me.”
Why is comparison such a dangerous trap to joy?
Because as Byron Katie says: “Joy is who you are” so if we are comparing ourselves to others or to ourselves, wanting to be different than we are, then we aren’t being who we are. And thus we trap joy, or trap ourselves from being joy. So don’t compare in any way to anyone including yourself. Love and honor yourself for who you are and others for who they are, just the way you are right now!
Trap #2 Control
“You have control over three things: What you think. What you say. And how you behave.” –Sonya Friedman
Control can be a tricky trap that we often mistake for caring and concern. We might think that we have someone else’s best interest at heart, that we care for them and don’t want them to get hurt or feel bad or anything like that so we want to take control to make sure that doesn’t happen. But the truth is, we cannot control what does or doesn’t happen to anyone else because we only have control over ourselves, our own thoughts, behavior, and emotions and others have control over theirs. It can also be seen as a way of procrastination or a fear of letting go when we try to control our circumstances…which are out of our control.
“I’m doing this for your own good.” “You will not speak to me that way.” “Do it now, or else…” “I’ll do it when I have more time and money.” “When the weather is nice, the policies change, or others… I’ll….”
When we try to control others, or control our circumstances, joy can’t flow through us. Joy cannot be controlled, it can only be experienced. And often, when we are open to allowing it, some of the truest experiences of joy come when we feel the least in control of things.
Trap #3 Complacency
“Why hide your talent in the closet of complacency when you have greatness within you?” –Robin Sharma
There is nothing quite like complacency in life to trap joy and keep it stagnant. Joy likes to live, flow and breathe! When we become so comfortable with life and aren’t willing to step out and embrace change, we block the flow, the growth, the power and the potential of joy to truly manifest itself within us and in our life.
“Things are really going great, I wouldn’t ever want anything to change.” “I’m totally content. Nothing could be better than this.” “There’s no point in messing things up when everything is perfectly fine.”
There’s nothing inherently wrong with being content and comfortable with things that are going good in life. The real danger comes when we become so complacent with the way things are that we aren’t willing to open up to the possibility of things being even better through change. There is so much potential in all of us. We all have great gifts to share and amazing things to discover and accomplish in life and we won’t be able to if we sit comfortably all the time and don’t reach out beyond our comfort zone, let go of our fears and embrace change.
By avoiding the traps of comparison, control and complacency, you will allow joy to be more open and flowing and thus be able to reach your fullest potential and experience your greatest joy in life.