I posted an informal survey question on facebook the other day:
Which of the following would you *most* like to cultivate in your everyday life — courage, freedom, or joy?
Having spent so much time researching happiness and positive psychology to lift my own spirit out of the darkness, I believed that joy was the ultimate end-goal of most women’s self-growth “work.” I was curious to see if the women in my social circles would corroborate this.
Just as I suspected, joy was the top reported answer. But something far more interesting emerged in this data: the variations in pathways that many women voluntarily elaborated on in their responses.
- “If I have more courage, I will gain more freedom, which will lead to more joy.”
- “If I have more freedom, I will be more joyful, which will give me more courage.”
- “If I have more joy, I will be more courageous, which will help me find more freedom.”
I knew there was a closely woven relationship between courage, freedom, and joy, but it became apparent that it’s a circular relationship — not a linear progression or steps in sequence, not two pillars propping up a third, and not three parts of a greater whole.
One leads to the other which leads to the other and so on, forming an infinite spiraling pathway of personal empowerment. Since there’s no final destination, you’ll never reach a limit to how much courage, freedom, and joy you can claim.
This means you can begin your transformational journey at ANY stage. You don’t have to wait until you’ve cultivated the courage; you can start by leaning in to joy. Nor do you have to free yourself from burdens to find the time and space to make big changes. All you need is the courage to take one tiny step.
Where will you enter this spiraling pathway — focusing on courage, freedom, or joy?
Jill Ennis, M.S., is a teacher and transformational coach on a mission to support smart, talented women who are tired of feeling blasé about their lives to harness their inner brilliance and move joyfully toward their goals.
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