The High Price Of Skimping On Joy
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The High Price Of Skimping On JoyChanging Channels
It typically takes 40 days to climb Mount Everest.
In poor weather conditions, the journey can take longer. Along the way, the body must withstand extreme temperatures, as well as oxygen deprivation that cause any number of challenging, potentially lethal physical symptoms.
The ascent is so physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing that before reaching the summit, climbers have to stop and acclimatize at a series of different base camps. Often during these stays climbers report experiencing intense anxiety and physical distress, as well as extreme cold and biting winds.
Stop now to imagine your week as a climb up Mount Everest.
Imagine that by week’s end you need to be at the summit.
As you ascend, you’re required to stop at several base camps.
What do you do when you reach the first base camp?
Do you take a moment to pump your arms in the air, and declare, “Woohoo, we made it!” or do you immediately focus on the many challenges ahead?
When we don’t intentionally train the brain to notice and celebrate each and every base camp we get to, we can’t appreciate that moment when we arrive at the summit, either.
When we don’t take a moment to celebrate simple, everyday victories, we get too stuck in stress overdrive and panic to enjoy our big victories.
In other words, when we don’t celebrate the little wins, we feel less joy across the board.
We see that pattern play out in the three climbers’ stories. After years of anticipating reaching the summit, once there, the first climber we met was too panicked about surviving the remainder of her journey to enjoy a moment she’d long dreamed of celebrating.
The second climber was equally distracted, although his panic was around proving himself to his employer, which was how he would survive after his descent.
Both of these climbers essentially reacted to their incredible accomplishment—summiting the highest mountain on earth—from a place of panic.
To be clear, their reactions aren’t wrong or bad. In fact, they’re completely understandable. Before reaching the summit, they underwent enormous physical, mental, and emotional strain. In literal terms, and for many good reasons, they were stuck in survival mode.
Their inability to savor that moment at the summit makes total sense. As we saw with Grog, even when we’re not literally climbing Mount Everest, we do need to be aware of dangers, and at times react to them. However, it’s also important to remind ourselves that the brain’s default is to assume the worst.
The primitive brain will, by default, convince you to skimp on joy and overindulge on worry, fear, and stress. We then spend so much of our mental and emotional resources on surviving that we don’t notice opportunities to thrive.
It’s a critical point, so I’ll say it again.
By depriving ourselves of brief, everyday bursts of joy, we end up depriving ourselves of joy across the board.
So how do we train the brain to be more like the third climber, who was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude as he stood at the highest point on earth, reveling in his surroundings, his journey, the incredible feat of making it to this place?
It sounds simple, but when the brain and body are stuck in panic mode, trying to force yourself to a place of peace and joy can seem impossible.
Feeling more peace and joy is a practice that begins with training your brain and body to notice and appreciate the smaller wins. It’s about seeing and celebrating your versions of reaching the different “base camps” along your journey.
And let’s be clear, the journey to that base camp might be tough. It’s likely a slog, it’s likely challenging, it might include a little frostbite or some other unforeseen challenge, which to me, is even more reason to celebrate every win you can along the way.
Your life is going to have problems. It’s easy to say, “I can’t celebrate until all my problems go away,” but what would happen if we started to celebrate our progress, big or small?
Next we look at how to use Tapping to do that.
SAVORING THE SMALLER WINS
When you think back on recent days, what everyday “wins” have you had?
You’re also probably not climbing Mount Everest, which means you’re far less likely to suffer frostbite. Really think about what good has happened in your life.
Have you tapped today? That’s a win.
Did you go to bed earlier and wake up feeling more rested? Great!
Were you calmer than usual when you got stuck in traffic? Well done.
Were you more patient with your children, spouse, or co-worker?
Think back on the past few days or week, and notice any and all victories.
Either on paper or in your mind, list three of those wins now:
My first win is _____________________________________________________________
My second win is __________________________________________________________
My third win is ____________________________________________________________
With your list in mind, we’re going to do some positive tapping.
Positive tapping is a powerful way to train your brain and body to notice
those everyday wins in your life, and feel the positive emotion they can generate.
To start, focus on your list of wins, and notice how much positive emotion you feel.
Give that positive emotion a number on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the most positive—joyful or grateful, excited, and so on—that you can imagine feeling.
With positive tapping, instead of lowering stress, the goal is to elevate positive emotion. That means that your goal is to increase your SUDS number, which is the number of intensity scale.
For example, if your joy begins at a 3 out of 10, your goal with positive tapping is to make the number go up, perhaps to a 5 out of 10, or an 8 out of 10.
So let’s get started!
Take three deep breaths.
We’ll begin by tapping three times on the Karate Chop point.
KC (repeat three times): Even though I forget to notice the good in my
life, I can see it now and let myself feel joy and gratitude.
Eyebrow: I <first win here>
Side of Eye: It feels good to notice!
Under Eye: I also <second win here>
Under Nose: It feels good to notice this, too!
Under Mouth: I also <third win here>
Collarbone: It feels great to notice all this!
Under Arm: It’s safe to feel good about this
Top of Head: But it also feels weird to celebrate these little wins
Eyebrow: I forget to notice them most of the time
Side of Eye: I can see them now
Under Eye: They came from positive choices
Under Nose: I can start noticing my everyday wins more often
Under Mouth: And let myself celebrate each one
Collarbone: I can feel more joy more often
Under Arm: I can stop and feel gratitude for these everyday victories
Top of Head: Even though they seem small and meaningless sometimes
Eyebrow: I can stop and notice them
Side of Eye: I can feel joy about them
Under Eye: I can give them the meaning they deserve
Under Nose: It’s safe to feel this joy more often
Under Mouth: It’s safe to notice these little things
Collarbone: It’s safe to value these everyday wins
Under Arm: Letting myself feel joy now
Top of Head: Feeling joy and gratitude now
Take a deep breath. Give your positive emotion a number on a scale of 0 to 10.
Keep tapping until you get the desired effect.