Are you allowing yourself to feel joy?

Joy is juicy, sparkly, and exuberant. When we let it course through us, we dance and giggle. We focus on the present moment; worries dissipate, and fears subside.

Why wouldn’t we allow ourselves to feel joy?

Joy is open, unguarded, and expansive, which feels risky to some members of your internal family. They worry you’ll be blindsided and hurt if joy distracts you. If you aren’t aware of threats, you aren’t in control.

Protective members of your internal family want to maintain control.

They don’t realize control is an illusion. Their strategies—like perfectionism, criticism, and hypervigilance—are efforts to avoid pain. They are willing to stifle joy and playfulness to prevent being startled by distress.

Sometimes, allowing space for joy feels like dishonoring grief.

You catch yourself laughing and stop, suddenly aware that sadness ebbed for a time. It’s confusing to feel unexpected delight in a season of grief. But it doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten your loss. It’s a reminder that you have space for more than sadness.

Are the demands of family and work squelching joy?

Joy isn’t “productive” by societal standards. It distracts you from tasks and shouts, “Pay attention! Isn’t this incredible? Put down the load you’re carrying and allow joy to wash over you.”

Part of you might say, “You don’t have time. You can’t drop the ball because no one else will pick it up.” But the ball will be there, and if you allow yourself to feel joy, you will have more energy to carry it.

What if you took the risk of cultivating joy—of being fully present in moments of awe and wonder?

You don’t want to miss the lessons spring teaches. Wherever you look, vibrant green and dazzling flowers tell the story of hope. Joy bubbles up when you immerse yourself in the beauty of creation. My two-month-old grandson’s smile, the blooms on my rhododendrons, and kind words from the friend who is reading the manuscript of my next book—these moments spark joy.

I don’t want to miss the gift of joy, and I don’t want you to miss it, either.

Link arms with the parts of you who block joy. Invite them to share it with you. Let them know you appreciate how they’re trying to help you. You aren’t going to take their job away; you just want them to take a break.

Ponder these words from the poet Rumi:

When you do things
from your soul,
you feel a river
moving in you,
a joy.

Leading your inner family with God-given resources such as creativity, spontaneity, and wonder unleashes the river of joy and allows all parts of you to enjoy the ride.

How will you welcome joy into your life? I’d love to hear your plans!