If you want to be joyful, embody joy. If you want to be loved, love. These are two messages I see again and again on my meditation app, Insight Timer. It is almost as if, the app is speaking to me. I do want joy and I definitely want to feel loved.
In the last few months, I’ve had a harder time feeling joyful and at times, feeling loved. I’ve been stuck at home with few opportunities open to me outside of grocery shopping and emptying the dishwasher. Sure, I’ve been able to spend more time with my kids and husband but after the first month of heavenly walks, talks and board game playing, we are now back to our own corners of the house, eagerly searching for or avoiding outside engagement.
Love in the time of Covid
Patience has begun to wear thin, mostly mine. The novelty of having frequent large family dinners has worn off. I should say the actual meal time is still enjoyable. It’s the meal prep and clean up that have lost their appeal. The joy wanes.
I, of course, still love my family but I do not love them enough to happily clean up their dishes in the sink or to schedule five doctor’s appointments for them, that they end up rescheduling anyway. Sometimes, I feel like doing those things is how I get love. My family thinks that is how I show them love, by doing the tedious jobs they do not want to do. I am like China or Mexico to the U.S. I do the jobs they do not want do to maintain a good relationship.
I need to embody more joy. I need to show love in different ways beyond acts of service.
I try to greet and say goodbye to my kids with good eye contact and a hug or pat on the back. I strive to be around when they are around. I do not like missing our on time with them, but I also know they like time to themselves and time with their friends.
More patience, warm touches and flirting with my husband are ways to increase the outflow of love toward him.
Using the whole body
I read somewhere that when we record ourselves in audio or video that we need to amp up our enthusiasm in our mannerisms and voice by at least 30%. For an introvert, that is a big request. But I know it is true. I’ve watched myself on video, when I do not add any extra oomph, it is dull, flat, hard for me to watch.
I get the feeling that is how it is with joy. I can feel joyful and content, but it does not register big time in my face or body. I still seem mildly engaged. That is how the world sees me.
I am working on embodying joy, with my whole body. I have a very extroverted and darling friend who says hi to everyone when we are out walking. I notice she often seems to have pep in her step. She inspires me to be lighter in my stature and more friendly. I find myself smiling at more people after being with her. Even when my face is resting, I now consciously try to smile just a little bit.
The truth is I do see a difference in responses from others when I embody more joy and enthusiasm. My family members seem to relax and soften their reactions and body language when I relax and soften my approach. The more tender I am, the more tender they are.
Admittedly, this kind of softness does not come 100% naturally to me. I am still on the lookout for a negative reaction or no reaction. There is a chicken or the egg situation going on here. If I radiate more love, my important people will too. If I tense up, they do too.
What’s inside shows on the outside
It is said that what we have on the inside gets mirrored on the outside. If our internal world is dark and sad then our face and demeanor come across as dark and sad too. I’m aiming for radiating more warmth and joy. One of my longstanding mantras has been, “Let love lead you, not fear.” I recently heard a different version, “Let courage lead you, not fear.” They both work.
What is your body language saying? Do you need more joy and love? Are you embodying joy and giving love?