I am buying tickets to Belgium to see j for thanksgiving! I have just learned my joy capacity can be increased by having someone else be just as excited about it as I am. I realize this seems obvious to most of you. Of course joy increases when other people are happy with you! But somehow yesterday this realization was more of a substantial concept to hold instead of just an "of course" moment. In my case both j and e are excited.
The buying of the tickets is fun, the traveling itself I'm sure will be fun, but what doubled my joy about it was how excited "e" was. She was the one who encouraged me, strongly, to follow though on what I've wanted to do lately, which is to get on a jet plane.
I had forgotten how great it feels when someone is as joyful as I am about something. Is it just me or are people these days less enthusiastic about other people's little joy moments? Maybe I can pass this fun joy moment on to someone else. Just keep doubling joy moments. They don't have to be big you know. Little things, like WOO HOOO. YES! You are finally done with that paper. And suddenly both people have increased joy capacity.
As sortof a side note, it's a modeled skill to learn how to get back to joy from hard stuff. And there are things about my journey (and maybe yours) these days that I've found hard. All the more reason for both of us to look to models and other people who can get excited with us about little things. To practice getting back to joy from sadness or anger... And all the more reason to find opportunity to double joy.
The skill of returning to joy is one that infants learn from their parents (or if they didn't a skill we learn in community). You go from feeling screaming, hungry, tired, angry (whatever) to learning to be soothed and feel joy best in community. I've heard it described like an emotional file download from parent to baby. The child is angry, the parent sooths them, attunes to them, says "O you are so upset" and leads them into a more restful, joyful state. This is how we learn to sooth ourselves and return to a place of joy. Even as an adult though I find it a fantastic thing to have community do this because it takes about five minutes to get back to joy with a friend where on my own I stew for a whole afternoon sometimes.
So today there are many reasons to celebrate little things, and the first of them is that it helps us not just grin or have a happy moment it actually increases our capacity to feel joy and other people's capacity to feel joy!
My favorite researcher (currently) Dr. Daniel Siegel talks about this. Check him out if you want to learn more.