This phrase has always baffled this small town Mid-West raised Catholic girl. I didn’t hear it until I moved to the “Big City”. Then there were a smattering of people I went to school with, worked with, or met in a bar that would ask, “Have you found Jesus?”
To which my sarcastic ass would reply, “I didn’t know he was missing? Was he on a milk carton? Is there a reward?” I didn’t understand the concept that others would be interested in knowing after 5 minutes of meeting me what religion I was and if it was on their approved list.
Fast forward 25 years to this point in my life and I am considering this question 5 minutes after meeting people – “Have you found Joy?” Why you ask….because as an Anxietyoholic my brain is always on the look out for those people who can provide the “crack” it needs. Everyone has met these people (or you are one of them). People who live at the bottom of the rabbit hole, who know the sky is falling, who are sure this is hell and we are in the hand basket. Joysuckers. (it’s sort of a cross between a leach and a villain from Scooby Doo)
I have lived with an anxiety disorder all my life, there has never been a shortage of adrenaline and drama. I could give you 30 worst case scenario for staying home on a Friday night let alone bungee jumping off a bridge. I’ve worked very hard in AA – Anxietyohlics Anonimous (Never heard of it? Not surprising, we don’t advertise, we’re too anxious) to let these people suck the joy I work so hard to find in every situation.
When I first get into a large group of people my brain starts to rub it’s greedy little hands together “Ah! This is Worst Case Scenario Wonderland. Awesome – let’s get our freak on!” That’s where the AA training comes in: being mindful, square breathing, counting blessings, finding joy. Could the stadium collapse? Could I get diarrhea? Could someone get drunk and start a fight and fall on top of me? Sure.
So I say to my brain, thank you for all that helpful information. Wow look at all these smiling faces. Aren’t we all lucky to be alive, enjoying this beautiful day and this amazing event in the home of the free and the land of brave. Elizabeth Gilbert calls it Stubborn Gladness. That’s one of the principles you learn in AA, Ms. Gilbert knows she is a member also.
Pam Grout is an Author and blogger also on WordPress and she recently wrote about perception and our ability to choose it. She maybe be an AA member also but I am not sure, we don’t carry cards or wear pins. That would draw attention to us and that causes WAY to much anxiety.
Perception is another principle of AA. Knowing that you have the ability to choose your perspective and choose like your life depends on it helps in those times when your brain is desperately trying to take control and override the manual setting. Like the Captain in the Wall-E movie that’s what I feel like during a panic attack.
That is why I am considering asking people when I met them – Have you found joy? SO that I know right away whether this is someone that I want to spend time with or run away from-fast. I do not need any help in freaking my self out. But I do love help in finding joy, stubborn gladness, and changing my perspective.
If you haven’t read Pam or Elizabeth – check them out. And if you haven’t seen Wall-E by all means watch it.