Creating Joy

by Bari Kriependorf

A few weeks ago I took part in satsang at a small metaphysical shop in Charlotte. About 8 people came, and most of them like me were new to this group. The subject for the day was joy which I thought was interesting as I never gave the subject of joy much thought. Normally I thought more about what joy brings and not the actual creation of joy. Happiness and joy I learned are not the same. Joy comes from within and happiness is a byproduct of joy. 

Last week YFR posted an article on working with joy which called out that work satisfaction was more pronounced with individual emotional growth as opposed to growth in material gains.

Thinking back in my own career, I realized this is exactly what makes me happy at work and why I changed roles or left companies. Cultures that are uplifting and recognize individual contribution with honor and respect truly do drive corporate growth and can signficantly contribute to the overall corporate mission.

So how does one create joy? Joy needs to be cultivated and it takes effort to find ways to experience it.

Our group shared stories about managing perspective and finding the positive even in the negative. Stating three things you are grateful for first thing in the morning can have a positive effect on the rest of the day.  Joy is where you find it and is not the same for everyone.

 The group leader shared that humans have 3x more positive thoughts than negative ones but by default, we tend to share mostly negative thoughts. And when we share those negative experiences over and over, we put gloominess and negativity into the universe. Constant sharing of the negative mitagates any joy we might have created from within and simply becomes undone. 

What would happen in the world if we starting sharing only positive experiences? It’s been proven that sharing positive experiences boosts happiness and energy!

So what can we do to find joy from within? Here are some options that came from our group:

It all starts with a change of thought.   

Let go of the shit that brings you down and stop surrounding yourself with negative people. You really can choose who you talk to and surround yourself with.

Cleanse yourself- Drink more water, add Yoga, do Meditation, practice Mantra, and Abhyanga,

Eat more plant based or satvic products- give up the heavy stuff that is weighing down your body and thoughts.

Shake up your routine and try something new- did I mention all encompassing Yoga?

Share more positive experiences.

Speak your truth, you never know who is listening.

Forgive yourself and others. We are human afterall 🙂

Love yourself- you are powerless over everything except you. Isn’t this this truth? We can all be reminded to love ourselves once in awhile.

I’m on board with creating joy. It’s been a few weeks now since I’ve decided to actively seek out joy and I’m feeling great. Future forward I’m going to be that person who sees the cup half-full and not half empty. When asked how I was doing I had to catch myself a few times before answering with something positive.  It’s a work in progress but in the end I’m trying to be more mindful of my internal thoughts and outward communication and feeling great about adding more positive vibrations in the universe.

Working With Joy

The Harvard Business Review published an article: Proof That Postive Work Cultures are More Productive? by Emma Seppälä and Kim Cameron in 2015 stating that ‘The American Psychological Association estimates that more than $500 billion is siphoned off from the U.S. economy because of workplace stress, and 550 million workdays are lost each year due to stress on the job.’ A widening array of research is showing that people are literally getting physically sick by being employees.

What was most interesting is that the evidence points less to material gains as an indicator to work satisfaction but rather gains in individual emotional growth such as respect, inspiration, and interpersonal connection. These internal engagements and psychological benefits cost nothing and yet the level of workplace stress in the U.S. continues to climb – maybe even to the point of tipping as our internal struggles as a culture impact future generations who will enter the workforce one day soon (1 in 5 US adolescents is prediabetic).

For most people their work is what they base much of their lives around spending at least time in the 8 to 5 at the office or in some other form of employment – commuting to those jobs and setting up their mornings and evenings to support a full day’s work. If we are spending so much attention to the standard work week – what can employers do to help?

It could start with wellness and mindfulness programs that are heavily influenced around mind-body benefits such as yoga, tai chi, or qi gong. Again, a mounting stack of research is showing that a proactive wellness initiative in the workplace is highly cost effective at reducing medical expenditures. In widening and widening circles we may see that the micro influence of individual companies will start to impact our larger economy and even the future of our world and nation. It may be time for employees to influence what they seek in their employers: asking for corporate cultural balance, emphasis on health, and emotional stability to be on the punch list along with the salary, 401k, and monetary criteria.


by Susan L. Roque

I was sitting cozily propped up amongst the numerous cushions on my friend’s couch who happened to be hosting bookclub last month. As usual the conversation floated along different thought streams and narratives breaking off into dialogs of couplets, triplets and occasionally capturing all of our attention as did the discussion of the ceiling fan of all things. What initially caught our attention was the uniqueness of the design which reminded us of the propeller on a futuristic jet. My friend sitting across from me commented that it was spinning counterclockwise, another friend sitting to my right countered it was spinning clockwise and of course most of us chimed in with our opinion and we all agreed to disagree laughing at how captured we were by such a mundane subject. 

Wouldn’t you know it, a week later sitting in a gratitude training, that very subject was introduced as an example of perspective. Looking from beneath a spinning fan it appears to spin counterclockwise and shifting the fan, as if sliding it down on the wall, the blades will appear to be turning clockwise. 

Needless to say it became another “ah ha” moment simply and beautifully signified by the spinning blades of a fan. 

It reminds me to consider that everything is possible all the time. I get to drop into observer mode and choose to see, hear or feel differently than what my automatic drops me into being, oftentimes without my permission. In my yoga practice I am continually changing my experience by subtly shifting my position, my mindset, my hold onto things that are not serving my well being in that moment. Taking that off the mat and into the world has proven to be a kinder, softer way of being in the world for me personally and for the individuals with whom I am interacting. 

Yoga, any or all of its eight limbs, shows up in all things if I am paying attention and leads me into a state of blissful presence, a place of ease. For this recovering addict that is right where I need to be. 

We are all recovering from something…

What you are recovering from doesn’t need a label but the journey to alleviate suffering always starts from within.

The face on this page is that of a recovering codependent.  An enabler. But it isn’t the whole story either. See – Happily Imperfect 5 Myths and 5 Truths about Codependency.

I had a hard time accepting that when I went to therapy years ago struggling with why so many of my interpersonal relationships were destructive and toxic for me.  I fell into a pattern of never having my needs met through ineffective dependency.

To admit I was coping for neglect with poor boundaries and that I was in fact part of my own problem made me feel weak.  I preferred the story that I was a survivor of abuse, of manipulative people.

But in order to heal I had to slowly change my story.  I had to admit that while behaving codependent had saved my ass many times in the past it was still a poor tool to use – tied to a cycle of addiction in my relationships.  The behaviors had helped me for a time but now that I was ‘aware’ they just weren’t getting me anywhere. 

Changing my story brought me to my next chapter, as I looked in the mirror and asked, “Why me?”  That’s when recovery really started to happen. 

What I found is that there was nothing to be ashamed about in the answer to, “Why me?”  I wasn’t weak or dumb or angry.  I was about as far from an emotional drama queen as one could get. 

When I really started looking at me without the filter of someone else’s view I could see that I am strong and confident.  I am empathetic and intuitive.  I am pretty happily content with myself and the world.  I am smart and capable. 

Really seeing myself for the first time led me to understand the ‘why me’ better.  I kept finding myself in the same relationship struggles over and over because of my good traits.  You can’t be locked into codependent relationships for your entire life without being all the good parts of you too or else you’d give up, stop trying, walk away.  I was in that slowly increasing hot water day in and day out because I really did care and kept trying to repair the broken areas because I inherently knew what happiness should look like and how to achieve it.  The people I was engaged with though – didn’t really know what to do with happiness.

It’s just like you are that super shiny, expensive and high-quality, rare and luxurious desire on the very top shelf that everyone really wants to reach up and have. People are drawn to you naturally because of all your good qualities but not everyone knows how to really take care of something that amazing, especially if they can’t even care for themselves well. If you put the care and keeping of YOU in the wrong hands you will be broken and abused. Not everyone can sustain appreciation of those types of values over a long period of time.

So, when I answered the question ‘why me’ – for myself things got much easier. Not that I didn’t make mistakes but I did decide the best person for the care and keeping of me was – ME. And I’ve slowly started to let others in but I really check and recheck now if their internal value matches mine.

That is my approach to self-care in recovery. 

The road through trauma and recovery takes us to resiliency

First – what is trauma?

There are three psychological needs of humans: relatedness, autonomy, and competence.  See The Science of Gratitude.  A trauma is individualized and interpreted by every human differently when any of these psychological needs is at risk.  It can be considered a trauma to be ‘isolated’ from relatedness if you think about long work hours staring at a computer screen.  This is a trauma inflicted by an individual’s decision to work that particular job but it still affects one the same regardless.  An ‘isolation’ trauma from relatedness can also occur if someone is physically threatened because they identify with a marginalized group thus causing them to isolate their true-self or even avoiding going out in public. 

Given the wide scope in which our psychological needs can be denied one can expect to experience some trauma across a lifetime no matter how you were raised or what individual events have shaped you.  Everyone is recovering from something.  

Second – why recovery?  

Anya Kemenetz’s article The Role of Yoga in Healing documents an interesting experience of young women finding the benefits of yoga in a correctional facility.  The yoga these girls experienced helped them regain some of their basic psychological needs.  And as expressed in the article, ‘recovery’ is not a single destination nor is it an isolated event.  The practice of yoga in a recovery mentality can be expressed physically, mentally, emotionally – hopefully through all three!  The destination of recovery is resiliency.  

How do we tie it all together?  

What is interesting is that while using yoga like a vehicle along the road of recovery is beneficial the eventual outcome is a day-to-day resiliency. First we learn to cope by either physically adjusting or connecting to our body in the yoga practice. Then we learn to exist in the struggle as we assimilate to the ‘language’ of yoga – the overall flow, instructions, and subtle anatomy. Finally we assimilate the full practice by breathing in the space that we’ve intentionally we created. We show up to practice on a regular basis, we allow ourselves to practice when we just don’t want to, we allow our yoga to be communal – seeking out like-minded individuals; maybe teaching or maybe giving back in some small way. Soon we find that we (as individuals) are on a super-resistant highway with our trauma in the rear-view and the destination we chose to set our navigation toward ahead. We end with our choice.

Greener Pastures

In recovery if we assume our destination is happiness, where the grass is greener; then what does that look like? We’re taking a first look at the world with a new experience having realized we were stuck in our suffering.

Ari Yeganeh wrote in his article: Happiness: what it means to live a happy life? that it may be a cake we bake ourselves. That we choose what gives us meaning, what to be grateful for, and to be fully aware of our place in the living daily world.

What does your cake of happiness taste like? Maybe ‘green’ is not on the other side out of reach but exactly where you stand right now.

The Mat Awaits

The mat is a safe place for everything from our bodies to our emotions.  That space of 24 by 68 inches can help with both physical and mental recovery.  Yoga is a science-based practice inherited from time before the world even had ‘science’!  Studies continue to show a correlation between recovery and yoga for people of all backgrounds, all ages, all walks of life. 

Why do you wait? 

In an interview with Bessel van der Kolk author of The Body Keeps the Score he suggests that Childhood Trauma Leads to Brains Wired for Fear.  He furthermore notes in his interview that during a study on yoga for people with PTSD that a practice of yoga was more effective than medicine.  The reason indicated is that yoga allows people who have experienced adverse conditions to build safety again – within their bodies and minds.  As van der Kolk stated, “you learn to befriend your experience”.  In other words yoga is another tool for developing resiliency. 

So if you’ve identified that you’re struggling or suffering with anything that you experience in life – are you addressing that struggle in a long-lasting meaningful way?  If you’re looking to yoga as a solution – please reach out to Yoga for Recovery Foundation to find a class, group, or instructor!

Yoga Asana – A Gateway to Life’s Benefits

I work with a lot of people. In my corporate job I lead teams and meet with folks both high and low along the organizational chain. When I teach and run Yoga for Recovery I’m even more intimately engaged with individuals nearly every night of the week. And I LOVE it. Which I never really thought I would since as a kid I was the quiet one, the one reading a book at the park high up in a tree instead of running around and playing.

In an interview for PBS, MARK BERTOLINI the CEO of Aetna said he invests $190,000 a year to yoga and mindfulness benefit programs for his employees. “When I had that accident, I couldn’t engage in my physical activity the way I had before, and I engaged — started engaging in yoga as a physical practice, but very quickly found out there was something broader to it, and that it was actually helpful for my pain, and started to get into meditation, started to study the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita and a lot of the scriptures associated with yoga, the Yoga Sutras, and very quickly came to this conclusion that this had a huge impact on my ability to lead…

Taking a leadership role was something that didn’t feel quite right at first since most of the experience and leadership I witnessed was pushing & prodding rather than truly ‘leading’.  By going through teacher training though and engaging (just as Mark Bertolini) with texts and examples that are hundreds of thousands of years old – I began to understand all the world needs is for me just to be me. 

Leadership came so much more rewarding when I changed my expectation about results. My teams started expressing how they appreciated that I was giving them kindness and you know what – we eventually got the job done with humanity and integrity. No one will remember which deadline we hit but someone will remember that feeling of collaborating as a team. All I have to be is a good person; my best person. I am still that girl who loves snuggling up under the covers by herself with a good book. But I also stand up in front of 5-6 classes a week and open my heart in love to watch young and old, happy and sad have an experience with this physical thing called ‘yoga’ that is an opportunity to practice enjoyment of life’s benefits.