It’s all about JOY.
Every time I begin to work on my own relational skills, and every time I recommend a client to begin working on relational skills, I always start with Skill 1: Share Joy.
Yes, there are 19 Relational Brain Skills that we can grow and master, but without Skill 1 the rest will never gain a foothold in our lives.
But what exactly does “share joy” look like? The technical description for this skill says that “Facial expressions and voice tones amplify: “We’re glad to be together!”
But what about in real life? How do we “share joy” with our friends and family?
I’ll never forget the first real lesson I had in the importance of sharing joy. My daughter was in Jr. High and had gotten herself into a bit of trouble, and kept getting grounded! It seemed like our house was full of attitudes and grumpiness. Having a grounded teenage daughter for weeks on end was no fun for any of us! I felt our joy levels dropping. I didn’t know to call it that, but I knew I was depleted of energy and strength, and it seemed like relationship with my daughter was only a drain.
I was a miserable as she was.
I remember distinctly talking to my step-mom on the phone and hearing her say, “Well, what are you doing to build joy with her?”
I’m pretty sure if she could have seen me she would have laughed at the bewildered look on my face. I protested, “But she’s grounded!”
Over the course of the next few minutes my mind found puzzle pieces in parenting that I had been missing for years, maybe forever.
Punishment in my experience had always been the removal of anything that made me happy- and that got lumped in my brain with anything that brought joy.
It was time to write a new script!
I began to focus my attention on sharing joy with my daughter even while she was grounded!
For us, that looked like- going to the beach together. Going to the mall. Driving somewhere just to pull over and take pictures of pretty things. Laying in the sun in the yard. Going for a bike ride along the river, taking walks after dinner…. Even going to the movies! We didn’t spend time talking about her mistakes, I simply began “being glad to be with her”.
I think I even told her that even though she was still grounded, that I never wanted to withhold “being glad to be together” from her. Our relationship was more important than the issues we were having.
At first, she was just glad to get out of the house! But as my facial expressions changed from disappointed and upset with her- to love, gentleness, and genuine “glad to be with her” … her countenance changed as well.
We could share joy simply by taking the time to do something we both enjoyed.
Over the years, as she grew up- we made “sharing joy” a priority in our relationship. Through ups and downs, heartaches and independent streaks- joy was never off the table.
But sharing joy- in the beginning stages had to be intentional. Eventually it becomes a natural thing that flows spontaneously.
So, how can you share joy today?
Find something you like- that will cause your eyes to soften in enjoyment and your lips to curl up into a smile. Invite someone you care about to join you in it! Or, pick something you know that they like, and ask if you can join them!
Here’s my personal flavor of sharing joy:
- go for a hike
- play catch
- go for a walk
- pick flowers
- scream together at a football game
- build an ice-cream sundae
- explore a museum
- go to the beach
- sit by a lake
- ride in a boat
- ride a horse
- play cards
- go bird watching
- watch funny YouTube videos
- go to the movies
- swing – you’re not too old!
- sing-a-longs to fun songs
- go for a drive – photography field trip!
After you learn to share joy with someone in this intentional way, it will become part of who you are together. Your “we” will be based on joy and that will remain even when you’re not doing fun things! Before you know what’s happening, Skill 11 will start showing up in your relationships too. (Return to Joy from the Big Six Feeling)
Life Model Works’ premier relational skills training, Thrive, is coming soon! Be sure you check it out.