August 2020 — A Note from Hope: What a thrill it is to feature of the most joyful people I know — the amazing Leslie Russell, president and founder of Joy Breaks Barriers Coaching and Training Workshops. Prior to the corornavirus outbreak, she was working the hundreds of students in China. But the mom of five decided she needed to rejoin her five children in Connecticut to ride out the global pandemic. Of course, we will work with Leslie wherever she resides, and are thrilled that she has joined Inkandescent Learning to teach her classes, share her books, and spread even more joy to our community. In this, our laughter issue, we know you’ll love learning about what Leslie has to offer. “My mission is to help everyone I meet break through their limiting beliefs and create lives and businesses of joy and possibility,” Leslie shares. Scroll down to learn more.
By Leslie Russell
President and Founder
Joy Breaks Barriers Coaching and Training Workshops
One of my favorite parts of coaching people who are looking to discover their joy is seeing the delight in a client’s face when they uncover that “aha!” moment.
You know what I mean, right? It’s when something deep stirs inside and you start shifting the way you see yourself or your reality. That second of discovery when you find something that has been either unknown, covered, or transformed.
That is the alchemy of joy.
In my training workshops, I use the metaphor, “Life is like walls and doors.” Walls are the limiting beliefs that keep us stuck, and joy is the door that opens us to possibility. “Joy breaks barriers” became my mantra and the name of my training company. Because of my background in comedy improvisation and theater, I began giving workshops on the healing power of laughter and comedy improv to friends in my community and then to business people who invited me to their businesses to lighten up their workplace.
In just a few years, I had built a thriving training and coaching business bringing joy and laughter into the corporate boardrooms of stressed-out business people, overburdened nurses, seniors in retirement homes, developmentally disabled adults, Chinese diplomats, and Nigerian entrepreneurs. I was flown around the globe to bring joy to people’s lives and generate laughter.
To tell you the truth, joy isn’t something you suddenly discover.
It’s who you are and who you’ve always been. It’s a state of being that doesn’t fluctuate because its source isn’t dependent on external factors. It took me years until I finally discovered and understood that joy is a blissful state that’s cultivated from within.
To find joy in our world, people need to stop seeking and start listening.
We all need to be joy, not search for it. It sounds so simple, but so few of us have mastered this art in our noisy, chaotic world. That is because it is an inner transformational process of deep listening and uncovering the limitations, barriers, veils, and concealment that prevent you from knowing your true self.
Similar to the alchemists of old, it is how we metaphysically turn lead into gold. The lead holds the potential for a more precious and valued material. This is the alchemical mystery of life. It’s soul work. It’s the transformational shift into this limitless and boundless state of being where possibilities and new templates for living are born.
That is why “aha!” moments are so exciting.
Joy is not an intellectual or existential construct; it emanates from the heart and truly does break barriers. It allows us to break past the constructs of our egos, past the veils that separate us from each other, and it offers a deeper, more profound connection.
- Joy dissolves negativity by re-contextualizing it rather than attacking it. It sees the good in all of life’s situations, even when they are painful.
- Joy is an expansive expression of self that is inclusive rather than separating or off-putting.
- Joy is the expression of unconditional love. This is how it’s actually possible to be “one with another.” With shared joy, there are no longer any barriers. Heart to heart, soul to soul.
- Joy creates true unity, peace, love, and compassion within oneself, and in relationships, families, communities, organizations, businesses, and on our planet.
- Joy creates empathy. When we see another person through this lens, we see them for who they truly are, and their needs become our own.
Here’s what I’ve discovered:
As I’ve practiced the alchemy of joy, my inner joy continues to grow into a deep state of inner contentment, gratitude, appreciation, and love that I bring to everything I do. I wake up in a state of grace excited to greet the day.
Joy arises from within each moment of existence.
The truth of our lives is that it doesn’t get any better than this moment, so pay attention to how you feel right now. Ask yourself: “How do I feel right this very instant?” I always ask my clients that question, because their answer reveals how their life will unveil itself.
Either you are connected to your own inner bliss — or your mind has hijacked you somewhere else.
Are you ready to find more joy? Here are 3 simple steps.
Here are a few simple exercises for you to practice until we meet again in next month’s column:
1. Know that joy is accessible to you at any moment, all the time. It’s a matter of being aware. Take time throughout the day to sit quietly and close your eyes. Imagine the universe pulsating with joy and love. What colors come to mind when you think about joy and love? What kind of music? What does it taste like? With practice, you can actually become a tuning fork for this high level energy. Focus. Be present. Feel your joy.
2. People who have attained a high level of joy have a tremendous capacity to lift others and accomplish great feats. It’s because their motives are pure. And we all want to be around people who embody this gift. They walk onto the stage and enrapture the audience; they enter a boardroom and shift the dynamic of the meeting. This is the hallmark of a great leader, someone who is capable of a high-vibration and expansive presence. So take a page from their playbook. Like these leaders, hold a prolonged, open visual gaze. Look everyone in the eye and make a deep connection with them. Feel confident and comfortable in your own skin, and let that feeling radiate to everyone you come into contact with. Try it this month when you are in a meeting, leading a workshop, talking to a colleague, or having lunch with a friend. Notice how your state of mind influences others. Remember, energy follows thought. Be effective and influential as an agent of change.
3. Joy is the medicine and healing of our times. More than ever, society is placing high value on joy as something we all need in our lives — in the workplace, the government, the classroom, the boardroom, the bedroom, and the planet. When you are doing your daily meditation about being more joyful, radiate the joy you tap into to every person in every spot on the planet. Now raise the vibration one more notch and hold onto it for 1 minute. As you come out of the mediation, know to your core that joy is a deep, essential element of our souls. It is a calling that is growing louder. Listen and you will hear its voice. Make it your voice.