Cultivating Joy In Difficult Times
Discover creative coaching techniques to help build a more playful mindset from Life Design coach and Lumia graduate, Micha Dudgeonwood.
Guest blog by Micha Dudgeonwood
Micha is a Life Design Coach, Community Activist and Playful Mindset Builder who embodies her creativity and queerness as natural, integral parts of her life. Her extensive experiences in early childhood education and the service industry, along with living in a variety of diverse cities, have built some courageous, empathetic, and joy-filled lenses. Micha understands how conscious choices help us connect our own dots so they fit a life that is both authentic in expression and rewarding to live. Count on Micha to bring the fun into your self-discovery process!
A 2018 graduate of the Lumia's coach training program, Micha is currently working towards her ICF Credential. Check out her work at: www.remuselife.com or on IG @remuselife.
What To Do When It Feels Like You’re Learning How to Build a House of Cards Next to a Fan
Over the past year, we’ve been challenged to develop a whole new set of skills without an instruction manual. Who would have thought we’d be putting our groceries in quarantine, or looking for that perfect face mask (you know, the one that doesn’t instantly fog up your glasses)?
For many the struggles have been even harder: closing a business, saying virtual goodbyes to loved ones, or families who added Home Schooling to an already long list of responsibilities.
No one can turn their back on these deep sorrows. Nor should we ignore the importance of how intersectionality has created an even deeper burden in communities of color.
All is not discouraging though.
There have been some unexpected silver linings too. Like when we witnessed animals across the globe broadening their playful explorations as we humans sheltered in place.
Many people got creative and formed Pods as a way of finding support and connection. Others made time to slow down and rediscover what was truly important to them. And we probably know someone who learned a new skill, like baking bread or starting a backyard garden.
This is all powerful evidence that we have the ability to find levity and opportunity in nearly any situation... if we choose to see things through another lens. Our ability as human beings to adapt to even the most challenging of circumstances is itself the definition of resilience.
How Do We Shift Perspective When the Glass Is Half Empty?
“Positive emotions improve focus and brain function. When we experience positive emotions, we are more open-minded, flexible, creative and adaptable.” ~Margaret Moore
As a Life Design coach that specializes in helping others cultivate a playful mindset, I know we’re all being put to the test as we reimagine our lives during these unprecedented global challenges and shifts. Resilience and Joy can feel hard to come by some days. There are ways, however, to make the process easier… on your own terms.
One of my own new joy-producing activities has been learning how to juggle.
I love it because it takes me out of my head and into my body when I’m feeling stressed or disconnected, plus it instantly sparks my playful side. My partner is learning too, and now we have another fun way to connect as we attempt to master our silly 2-person juggling act.
I’m a big fan of utilizing Positive Psychology as a way of examining and creating a full and satisfying life. One of the reasons that learning how to juggle has worked to increase my own joy is that it fits both my preferred learning styles (Kinesthetic & Visual) and draws from 3 of my strengths (Curiosity, Humor and Courage).
Self-exploration not only helps us make better choices, but it can also increase our success rates. It takes courage to act on that increased self-knowledge, to be vulnerable and learn something new, especially under stress.
Coaching Exercises to Cultivate Joy
To understand what approaches might work best for you or your clients, it helps to have a clear understanding of our individual Strengths and Learning Styles. There are many wonderful assessments out there, and I’ve included a few of my favorites below. Check out a variety and see what resonates best with you.
Learning Preferences: The VARK Questionnaire
Character Strengths: The VIA Survey
EXERCISE 1: Powerhouse Joy Makers
Here’s one of the tools I’ve developed to help my clients tap into their capacity to live more playfully. I call it #playingwithpowerhousejoymakers, and it goes something like this:
- Think back to when you were a child, then span forward to your current self. Take a few minutes to identify 4-5 things that have genuinely sparked joy for you throughout your life. Try to find those that still hold true today. (Mine are bicycling, community, making/creating, food, and nature.)
- Once you’ve identified your Powerhouse Joy-Makers, the next thing to do is to turn them into a playful hashtag.
Let’s use mine as examples to help illustrate the point:
I use hashtags because this exercise is meant to cross-reference and create groupings of similar ideas/experiences, just like hashtags do across many platforms these days. It’s also a fun way to build positive repetition into our thinking around choices and self-empowerment.
By connecting tried and true joy-makers from the past to support our present actions, we are naturally building muscle memories for future motivation.
These are now your go-to activities when you’re feeling stressed, disconnected (from yourself or others), overwhelmed, sad, angry... or any other emotion that separates you from your personal power and resilience. This approach allows you to pick whichever hashtag resonates the most, or is readily available to you at the moment.
The invitation is to act on it however you want.
An added bonus to this exercise is that you’ve now also created Powerhouse Joy-Maker hashtags that you can use to express yourself or to engage with others
EXERCISE 2: Joy-Makers Reframe
Once you have a few hashtags, it's time to dive in and explore another creative way to use your new customized Powerhouse Joy-Makers!
The goal of this exercise is to reinforce our own ability to change the lens and see things differently. In this case, we do so by intentionally creating new experiences that in some way mirror past feelings of levity, connection, joy, play, contentment or wellbeing, and bring them to life during present, challenging times.
Let’s use this example to further explore a hashtag: “It’s been a long hard day, and nothing seems to be going my way. I’m not hungry but I know my body needs some healthy fuel or I’ll sink even further.”
When I’m feeling this way, I’ll sometimes use #playingwithmyfood to tempt a friend to join me in pulling together a creative meal from our own kitchens. Last time I made vegan patties with faces on them. I took it a step further and tried to eat the one with the expression I was feeling at the moment.
Depending on the circumstances, you could also use this hashtag to motivate:
- Making a meal from what you have in your fridge without using a recipe
- Creating your grocery list using an acronym instead of your usual pragmatic approach
- Incorporating a “new-to-you” ingredient into one of your meals each week
- Turning your dinner into a sculpture of 3D artwork
With a few new Joy-Makers in hand, I’ll leave you with this parting thought: The beauty of finding our own mini moments of Joy outweighs the effort it might take to get us there. Bottom line, we’re worth it, each and every one of us!
Want to Be A Lumia Coach?
One of our values at Lumia is that we dare to be different. Our coaches like Micha ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you are ready to step into your power and leave your mark on the world and you’d like some partners in the process, come join our revolution!