My Messy, Upside Down Journey To Joy


My daughter Nava made this bracelet for me today. And it is everything.

As you must know by now, I have a book coming out in July called The Joy Plan, so I am rather obsessed with the topic of joy: How to find it, how to keep it, and how to find it again when I lose it.

What I noticed about this bracelet right away, apart from how awesome it is that Nava knows how to make something like this (it boggles my mind what my kids can do!), is that the “Y” is upside down. Even though it seems like you should be able to turn it around, no matter how you spin it, the “Y” always lands upside down.

And that’s why this bracelet is so perfect for me.

You see, the journey to joy is not a carnival ride on a sticky sweet cotton candy cloud. It’s a cold, steel arrow piercing through layers of doubt and fear to reach a warm, glowing ember that can never be extinguished but is often hard as hell to find.

It is bumpy. Vulnerable. And sometimes upside down.

But like anything precious, joy is always worth the effort, and perfect in its imperfection.

For a very long time, I forgot what joy felt like, and was desperate to get it back.

I courted joy like a lover, never realizing it was the soulmate who’d been with me all along.

One small thought, word, and action at a time, I did eventually work my way back to joy. Not perfectly, not with all of my letters stacked neatly in a row, but in my own messy, upside down way.

Through small daily actions of gratitude, mindfulness, and kindness, I trained my brain to gravitate toward optimism. I built up the emotional muscle memory of joy and shifted my world view as well as my world.

And now I finally know how to find joy and go there often.

Incidentally, Nava’s middle name is Joy. I have a feeling she has known these things all along.