Wow! August already...the dog days of summertime. As I sit here and write this blog, I find myself reflecting back over a bit of time, feeling a bit overwhelmed by the world and the space around me. At the same time, a sense of joy and gratitude also exist in that same space. With a few weeks of summer vacation left and anticipating a new school year, as well as next steps here at Lion and Lamb Fitness, it is easy to find anxiety, fear, and uncertainty, but that would mean I would have to compromise being faithful to life’s process and finding joy in the journey called life. This blog is only me thinking out loud and in text so that it, hopefully, touches someone else. I am not a therapist or counselor, rather just sharing my thoughts, experiences, and connecting the dots to others, whose words and research I have found helpful in my own space. I sincerely hope you enjoy it...
Joy...what is it exactly? Well...I have looked in many spaces and could summarize that joy is a calm and contentment on the inside regardless of what is going on around me. At least, that is what I have learned through my faith teachings and reading dictionary definitions. Joy and happiness are not same nor equal. As I understand it, happiness is a fleeting feeling. For example, I can be happy about going on a vacation, seeing a friend or family member that I haven’t seen in some time, making something delicious for dinner, and the list goes on. Those single circumstances don’t necessarily fill me with the joy I’ll need to navigate through life though. With joy, I can know, through faith, that I can remain content during hard times, knowing that all things will work together for my good (Romans 8:28).
Look around though. I am reminded daily that the world that we live in could steal my joy in a moment, if I allowed it. COVID19 Delta variants, racial tension, wildfires, floods, political circumstances, social media and the feelings that can leave me with by watching other people’s snapshots of their lives (that so many times look better than the space I am in)...oh yeah, and the stuff that goes on in my day to day...ugh! The cool part is that I believe I have a choice. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, (and side note, my favorite movie of ALL TIME) said that “You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That's the only thing you should be trying to control.” As I’ve said before, I am not a therapist or a counselor, and if you are struggling, finding professional support is an amazing gift and something I am not ashamed to say that I have taken advantage of in my life. A favorite preacher of mine, Joyce Meyer, also shared in her book, Battlefield of the Mind, “One of the greatest revelations of my life is: I can choose my thoughts and think things on purpose. In other words, I don’t have to just think about whatever falls into my mind.” Quotes like these give me gentle reminders about the opportunity that I have to choose, and when I can choose movement...it helps me so very much, whether I choose to move my body through walking the dogs, exercising, or gardening or moving my mind to learn something new...maybe a new yoga pose, maybe reading about new things for my jobs, or taking a professional development/certification.
With keeping within my scope of practice, I also know how movement of body and mind allow human beings to experience joy. For me, exercise and movement, not only allow me to work toward being a healthier version of myself and maintain good heart health and bone health (all of the things we already know), it allows me to relieve stress, step out of my anxious mind, move better, heal better, reach new goals, try new things, meet new people, be a part of a community that I wouldn’t trade, and the list goes on and on. So, when I was looking for evidence based support around joy and movement, I tripped over an interview with Kelly McGonigal, PhD and a discussion she was having about her new book called, The Joy of Movement. The podcast from the website was definitely worth the listen for me, and so much of it connected to why movement has such positive outcomes. One of Kelly McGonigal’s quotes spoke volumes, in terms of what I hoped to communicate, “Movement will give you access to joy that will dramatically improve the quality of your life and help support mental health and meaning and belonging. It’s not a gimmick to get you to exercise so you burn some calories. That’s not what it’s about”. What a great piece to share! I can feel better, in part due to movement and there is science to back that up...I’m not needing to feel discouraged about what I saw as someone else's “gains” on social media, when I am struggling to exercise enough, eat the right things, sleep well, manage stress...on top of all of the other things that need to go well every single day. Movement can be a gift, especially when we move away from the idea about the calories it burns, obtaining a certain body type, or use it as a punishment for something we ate or exercise routine that we didn't get to or complete.
This month at Lion and Lamb Fitness is the theme of joy. So, if I’m going to talk about joy, I’ll also share where I find joy. As I’ve said before, for me, joy comes from my faith in God, the consequences of movement, strong relationships, and feeling good in my body, mind, and soul, but it is also in seeing my dogs everyday, the smells of seasonal changes, music that reminds me of a certain time or how it can make me feel during any given workout, work toward a yoga pose that I couldn’t get before and now I can, when people reach out and share their successes with me, and the ability to be (not always love) a work in progress. My goal...to be the best version of myself, to enjoy spending time with me, and finding joy in the entire journey of health and wellness.
I was reminded this week, by one of my most favorite pastors, Steven Furtick, when he said a few things in his weekly sermon on YouTube (reference below)…
Don’t set the blueprint of your life based on the part of somebody else's life that you see...they may be cropping out something that they don't want you to see
Don't miss the bigger picture of your own life to copy someone else's
Don't make a copy of something and lose the quality of it.
What this meant to me was that my joy cannot be found in someone else’s life, social media profile, what I believe are their circumstances, work, etc. For me, my joy comes from knowing that everything, at some point, comes together for my own good. My faith teaches me this. For me, my faith is in God...for you, your faith may be in something very different. And, guess what...it is all wonderful. I cannot possibly be happy EVERY.SINGLE.DAY, BUT, I can have contentment and joy that when things do go wrong, I can rely on my faith, my community, and movement to work toward accessing a joyful space.
In an interview with Joel Osteen, Tyler Perry (...yes, Madea!...lol) said that when you realize that everything works together for your good, you can realize that you have never had any failures only steps that form you into who you are destined to be.
Make that joyful noise and have a joyful day!
1. “Elizabeth Gilbert Quotes (Author of Eat, Pray, Love).” Goodreads, Goodreads, www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/11679.Elizabeth_Gilbert#:~:text=%E2%80%9CYou%20need%20to%20learn%20how,a%20power%20you%20can%20cultivate .
2. ElevationOnline. “Be Careful What You Copy | Pastor STEVEN Furtick | ELEVATION CHURCH.” YouTube, YouTube, 8 Aug. 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YowL9QXxyk.
3. The Joy Equation: How to Use Exercise for More Happiness. “The Joy Equation: How to Use Exercise for More HAPPINESS, Hope, Connection & Courage with Kelly MCGONIGAL, PHD.” Real Food Whole Life, Real Food Whole Life, 26 July 2021, www.realfoodwholelife.com/feelgoodeffect/joy-of-movement-kelly-mcgonigal/ - in this citation there is also a link to the podcast that I referred to by Robin Conley Downs and her interview with Kelly McGonigal
4. Fable, Shannon. “How to Find the Joy in Exercise.” ACE Fitness, ACE Fitness, 4 Dec. 2018, www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/7162/how-to-find-the-joy-in-exercise/.
5. Meyer, Joyce. Battlefield of the Mind: How to Win the War in Your Mind. Harrison House, 1995.
6. “Tyler Perry: God's Guidance to Your DREAMS (FULL SPEECH) | Praise on TBN.” YouTube, YouTube, 5 Feb. 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZbG0U-Og84.