The Joy-Driven Life

We are created to be relational beings, joyfully living integrated lives within community. However, it’s my observation that few of us actually do it, and the results are painful—rampant immaturity, dysfunction, and addictions.

Dr. Jim Wilder, founder of Life Model Works,  has made it one of his life missions to help men and women grow up, into emotional maturity. He estimates that 75 percent of men function at an infant maturity level—able to receive but not give. He’s often called the “Neuroscience Theologian,” and his way forward is unique, unusual, simple, and profound. It all starts with the brain and joy.

You’re likely aware that there are two sides to the brain. The left side operates cognitively and responds to duty, beliefs, and discipline. The right side is relational and fueled by joy. Dr. Wilder observes that the answer to developing maturity lies in the relational right side of the brain through the emotion of joy.

Extensive scientific studies show that the brain is developed relationally and is driven by joy. According to Dr. Wilder, joy means that I am glad to be with you. UCLA neuroscientist and pioneer in this field, Dr. Allan Shore, concluded, “To develop a human identity we must be the ‘sparkle in someone’s eyes.’ ” It is this special sparkle, being genuinely glad to be with someone, that opens the relational side of our brains. It’s much more important that we’re together than how it’s going to turn out. The problem ought never trump the relationship.Sharing Joy

I’m very encouraged to see that a joy-filled, relational movement is gaining momentum in families, neighborhoods, and workplaces. Many are turning on and tuning the right side of their brains. I am among them. As I coach others in living fearlessly, I amazed by the immediate results.

Last spring, I saw this happen in a large non-profit organization. During laborious meetings of budget building and planning, I introduced simple brain exercise before the “grind” part of the meeting. Incredibly, their time stayed relational, with tasks being accomplished faster and better, more efficiently, energetically, and joyfully. The team has continued to transform through these simple relational exercises, and are still learning, growing, and developing their brains through joy. We are seeing lives change!

It all starts with joy. Life Model Works has developed 19 brain skills that build joyful communities. The first skill is “Share Joy.” Facial expressions and voice tones say, “We’re glad to be together!” So, here’s a quick application: Look for opportunities to be glad to be with people. I smile and focus on good things as much as I can. So practice your smile!

And, by the way, keep in mind that ‘We are glad to be with you!’ Now pass on the joy!

 

THE POWER OF AFFIRMATION

Affirmation…so powerful yet so underestimated.

I remember the day when my daughter made a dramatic change, all because of three short words. We were living in France, and she was going to the Maternelle (kindergarten).   At a parent-teacher meeting, the teacher smiled as she exclaimed, “Elle est vite!” (she is fast). Our daughter heard and immediately embraced this affirmation. For the next two years she ran everywhere as fast as she could! “I am fast. I am fast. I am fast…just watch me!” as those words of truth propelled each step forward.

My daughter didn’t realize that her teacher was affirming her mental agility (quickly learning the French language and culture), not her physical prowess. Yet, a compliment put wings on her shoes.

Affirmation turned on a switch in my daughter, just like how Clark Kent taking off his glasses and ripping open his shirt reveals the “S”—his true identity as Superman. We all have “Super” within us, but it usually takes something external to draw it out of us. Many times we may have a hunch or a feeling that something is true about us, but it’s confirmed and brought alive when others call it out. It’s the power of affirmation!

Affirming someone is simply calling out a truth of their authentic design. It’s truly who they are at their core identity. “I appreciate that you have enduring, rock-solid values” or “I love how you always love to learn” are great examples of calling out an identity truth in someone. Complimenting others is a great start too, but slightly different. A compliment is a positive statement referring to a task done or trait possessed. “Thank you for cleaning up the dishes tonight” or “that shirt looks great on you”. They both trigger the production of oxytocin, the “happy” hormone in our brains which results in smiles and warmth.

Here’s a little experiment for you this week: It’ll be easy, simple, and free. Do you want to dramatically change a relationship or your work environment? Start affirming others, and often. Find those characteristics in others that you can call out and affirm in them.  If that seems too difficult to start with, then begin with a smile and a compliment. But flattery is different, and doesn’t count. Flattery is actually focused on elevating the speaker, not the receiver. It highlights a situational non-truth about the other. For example, “I loved your keynote speech” (but you weren’t there and didn’t hear it) or “I’m grateful for your leadership” (but secretly you neither respect nor trust the leader). Affirmation and compliments are a gift to the receiver, because it can produce change in the person’s self-esteem.

Affirmation will put an “S” on your chest…because we all have Super within!  Let WeAlign help you discover your greatness- your true authentic design.

(By the way, we affirm a lot)!

-Dave

WHO ARE YOU?…I REALLY WANNA KNOW…

Who are you?… 

This is a huge universal question, and made, also,  for some pretty good lyrics by Peter Townshend of The Who. I clearly remember the day when my 10 year old brain first encountered this great query. My teacher, Miss Franklin, wrote three simple words on the blackboard that began a four decade journey for me:

Who Am I?

These three words linked together make it one of the most challenging, complex, even intimidating questions of all time. It forces us to go beyond the surface and plunge into the depth of our soul. It leads us to our identity.

Many of us, unfortunately, don’t like who we are, but worse, many of us don’t even have a clue of who we are. We are beaten down by an unforgiving world which is inhabited by people who tend to exploit weaknesses and criticize strengths. As a result, many of us have become zombie-like—half dead, half alive, aimlessly wandering around, looking to devour another’s flesh…and identity. OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration but you know where I am going.   

The good news is that we can become fully alive again. We can find our design, fit, purpose…and flourish. In future blogs, we’ll look at three factors to help us find or rediscover our identity (not unlike a paleontologist gently brushing the dirt off of buried bones. Together we’ll gently brush off fabrications in order to reveal the talents and traits that are true):

  • Affirmation leads to our identity
  • Rest clarifies our identity
  • Joy and appreciation creates our identity

So let’s get into our special chair and relax & dream and just “be”. With WeAlign (aligning design with destiny), your wonderful journey is about to begin!

Dave Mead

StrengthsFinder Executive Life Coach