Recognizing Joy

June 2nd, 2011


A few years ago a dear friend jokingly asked me why I had such a ragamuffin picture of myself framed in my home. Without taking time to reflect, I answered, “Because that is who I am.” I don’t remember the conversation going any further than that.

In the picture, my hair has clearly not had a morning comb through. At the time, July 1970, my mother was a big fan of the pixie haircut and people regularly mistook me for a boy. I loved that, because I thought it meant I was cool, and not into all that “dumb girl-stuff”. I was four and living in Virginia at the time. Behind me were my beloved paternal grandparents who were visiting from Illinois. When I look at the photo, I know I was joyful, present and free of the external trappings of life. I looked a mess and frankly I didn’t give a poop.

Cut forward to thirty six years later, I saw the most beautiful picture (at least in my eyes) of a child, who I thought to be a boy, which I associated immediately with the quality of joy and deep connection to God (or Source). As soon as I saw the picture, I knew I wanted it to represent my work. The child had a smug of dirt on his face, his hair was cut randomly and his clothes were dirty. But his eyes and expression were unmistakably joyful, at least to me. I began to include the photo in my brochures and websites. Some friends questioned my choice, suggesting that some might interpret the picture as my work coming from only one perspective~perhaps Hinduism or other particular spiritual perspective (depending on what they projected onto the picture). While I found this discourse interesting, I ignored it. I loved the photo and if people didn’t get it, I really didn’t care. I thought (somewhat smugly I admit) let those people choose a coach who features unicorns or teddy bears on their marketing materials. Usually, that is not my stance, but I was intransigent! That’s how much I dug the photo! However, I have to say that people have resonated strongly with the photo~and I am deeply grateful for that. I certainly don’t want to be a coach who is not employed and alone with a stack of lovely brochures!!

Just a few days ago, I started to notice that people were making more and more positive comments about the child with the prayer hands. In fact, several people wrote “I thought the photo was of a girl…” Then it occurred to me! The picture in my house of my ragamuffin self looks nearly identical to the joyful child. Somewhat shocked I realized, “I am the joyful child.” Clearly, joy is not about the trappings of long hair, lipstick, doctorate degrees or even clean clothes. Joy is our natural inheritance.

This insight comes to me at a time when I am doing a number of media interviews. People want to know what makes a great coach and how we might develop the field of coaching (which seems to be still in its infancy). Hopefully, we are moving beyond just manifesting goals, which while wonderful, is not always our deepest work as humans. In quantum terms, I want to move beyond the temporal, that which can change and help my clients to move into the state of joy. Joy is not an emotion akin to happiness. Joy is a state of being. My deepest hope is that I might assist my clients in embracing their joy. I don’t only wish that my clients survive the rigors of daily life, but to thrive and embrace an unending state of peace and joy.
(c) 2007 Jeanine Austin, Ph.D.
. C.Ht.
Doctor of Life Coaching, Certified Hypnotherapist
Simply Divine Solutions
Life Coaching and Hypnosis Worldwide

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