A genre of Joy? Some brave – and fun – new paths to healing

This morning I found a glorious book on the shelves called ‘Saved by Cake’ – the first Marian Keyes book that I have ever wanted to read (confessions of a literary snob). It is the story of her recent – severe – depression and how the simple act of baking did more for her healing than any of the drugs, institutions, needles or meditation workshops she tried. Not long ago I read ‘Poser’ by Claire Dederer, which shares with much honesty and humour, how she used yoga (resistance notwithstanding) to come to terms with motherhood and her bigger role in the world, and we all know the ‘Eat Pray Love’ theme of using travel to re-evaluate and re-imagine a life that was slowly coasting into dreadful. It seems to me that these stories – perhaps beginning to be a genre of their own – are all articulating the discovery, or re-discovery, of a simple joy that ends up having a powerful and life-changing impact.

 

The transformations in these writers’ lives (slow as they may have been in the making) were not initiated by dramatically new jobs, immigrations, winning the lotto or finally landing Mr/s Right. They were caused by a spark of attraction to cupcakes, learning Italian and the Tree pose. Your joy is meaningful, even vital, to your wellness even if it doesn’t at first appear to be related to a career, your healing or anything you’d label a ‘life purpose’. On JoyMap last Saturday there were bright eyes and tears of relief around the table as participants remembered how much they love kayaking, children’s books, dancing and beautiful stationery. Joy is about the texture of your life, not just your vocation, and it contributes enormously to your overall sense of wellness, resilience and strength. All three the writers above (like many of my clients) had become so wrapped up in their lives (motherhood, marriage, being a famous author etc) that their own private joys had been suppressed. I cannot say for sure that this is the direct cause or cure of depression, overwhelm, MS and many of the other common diseases of our generation, but I have no doubt it is a crucial component.   

 

Interestingly, this week I read a lovely blog by Martha Beck on Radical Fun, which articulates similar ideas and invites us into a commitment to fun. Enjoy this: http://marthabeck.com/2012/05/radical-fun/

 

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