Why NOT Having It All Together Leads to Greater Happiness
So, I was on my way to get a much-needed massage today when "Sweet Caroline" came on the radio. Within seconds, I was in tears. It was my mom's song. It was the song we played at the recessional during her memorial service three months ago and it was the song she and I playfully danced to together at the Neil Diamond concert just last year.
It was the song that suddenly sent my joy on this beautiful spring day into a nose dive.
Here's the ironic part. I had scheduled this massage in the middle of the work day as a deliberate break from finalizing plans for my upcoming women's workshop called "The Joy Project". Yep, it's a workshop in which I offer women the knowledge and strategies needed to capture and maintain joy in their busy lives. It's the same workshop in which I emphasize the importance of committing to self-care such as massages or other more affordable escapes in order to have more joy.
Suddenly, this all felt like a scam. Who am I to be teaching about joy when I'm sobbing on the way to my massage?
Instead of questioning myself and my worthiness any further, I pulled myself together, wiped the mascara from my cheeks and preceded to enjoy a soothing massage. After tipping my therapist, smiling on the way out, and driving myself home, I headed straight to my room for a deep, cleansing cry.
Why am I sharing this? Well, I'm allowing myself to be vulnerable. I'm letting the women I help and the clients of my future know that, despite the fact that I coach and train and smile about engaging in life and leadership, I have my rock-bottom moments, too.
Life coaches cry. Just like strong, successful women in business, corporate, healthcare, education, government, and all other women in leadership of their careers and of their lives, we cry.
In the words of Brene Brown who wrote, "Daring Greatly", ""Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity". Vulnerability is not weakness. In fact, it is the pathway to joy. Dr. Brown also writes, "If we want to reclaim the essential emotional part of our lives and reignite our passion and purpose, we have to learn how to own and engage with our vulnerability and how to feel the emotions that come with it."
My cry today was the epitome of feeling my feelings. My sharing it with you is the utmost in vulnerability. But why should that be? Do we really believe that we need to be so strong all the time, so happy and so on top of things that we can't let our emotions ride their waves and our authentic selves present themselves to the world?
I don't think so.
Each and every one of us has a story. Each of us has pain, challenges, or struggles. We don't have to pretend we have it all together even when we are teaching others how to do it! Instead, we can be open and honest and say, "Hey, my life has really stunk at times too. I've had it bad. I've thought it would never get better. But, you know what? I've learned how to cope with these things and you can, too."
Then, we can rely upon the wisdom of women who have have gone before us or who are walking alongside us and we can choose the strategies that best help us to find the opportunity in each of our challenges. For me today, my method was to do a little writing in hopes that it would lift my mood.
I had no idea that finishing my last paragraph would leave me with a spark of joy.
Why? Because, somehow, knowing that even one woman out there might benefit from hearing the message, "It's okay to cry" or "You don't have to pretend to have it all together all the time", gives me a sense of hope and of peace.
At the same time, it leaves me with the reminder that my vulnerable moments are still about choice. I choose to go there and I choose to come back up. No more joy nose dives for me...at least for today.