Most of us know what it feels and looks like. We all want it. It is quintessentially human to seek out things in our lives that make us feel happy, joyful and content.
So, why does joy feel so elusive?
When I look around, those of us who have the most trouble with finding, hanging on to and experiencing joy are those who look for it in and through the approval of others. Let me be clear – approval-seeking is in no way compatible with joy. They cannot co-exist. They are, in fact, diametrically opposed and solely focusing on the approval of others is a guaranteed way of losing the joy we so strongly crave.
Approval seeking is the biggest barrier to experiencing joy and we have become very creative in the ways we try to attain it.
Joy is a state of contentment that cannot be affected by anything outside of us. It is something that resides in us because we approve of ourselves.
Many of us, have convinced ourselves that our worth is measured by who we know, what we know, what we do, who we are to others (the roles we fill for others), and what we own. In many ways, this belief is strengthened by others who determine our “approval rating” based on all this information. The ironic thing is that what raises approval for some actually lowers it for others. Approval fluctuates depending on the situation and the person. In many ways, joy based on approval seeking is a house built on shifting sands and no solid foundation. Joy then is always at risk, uncertain, fleeting, and elusive.
Nugget of truth: You cannot expect other people to approve of you more than you approve of yourself.
How do you raise your personal “approval rating?”
1) Be your best for yourself and no-one else. In difficult situations, be who you want to be and behave in ways that you can be proud when you look back on the moment.
2) Let go of the belief that you are only okay if you are perfect. Perfectionism is a mirage that always moves farther the closer you think you are to it. You will never get there.
3) Value yourself in your humanity – you have worth just because you are.
4) Realize you are a work in progress. Acknowledge those parts of you that are genius, those that are “meh” and those things which you truly suck at. Then move forward towards being a better you in small increments with an attitude of self-acceptance.
5) Forgive yourself your faults while also working to improve them. We all make mistakes. Learn from them, repair the fallout, decide what you can change to do better next time, and move on.
Nugget of truth: You will find lasting joy when you decide the approval of others is unimportant to who you know you are.
“The most splendid achievement of all is the constant striving to surpass yourself and to be worthy of your own approval.” (Denis Waitley)
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