Cultivating Sustainable Joy (Even When Sh*t Hits the Fan)

There’s a saying: Energy flows where attention goes.

In yoga, we use our drishti —where we focus our eyes— to encourage a calm, clear mind. Off the mat, though, we continue this focus by choosing to engage the qualities in life we want to cultivate.

One of those is joy.

Sometimes on the mat we seek out areas of the body that feel tight or tense and consciously make an effort to relax them. Sometimes we search for areas that already feel easeful or good.

What’s so interesting is that both of those seemingly opposite feelings exist concurrently.

We live in this vast spectrum of grey between difficulty and ease. There are challenging things we can’t escape, yet still we put our attention where we want it to be.

Cultivating joy isn’t an avoidance of what hurts, but is learning to acknowledge it while simultaneously seeking out what brings lasting joy.

Instead of rising above, transcending, transmuting or otherwise “spiritually bypassing” the metaphorical mud, this is a practice of seeing beauty even in the hardship.

Cultivating sustainable joy doesn’t mean only doing easy things. It means sometimes saying yes to what terrifies or challenges us.

Sometimes it means saying no to what’s making us exhausted or to the people/places/food/work that sap us of our much needed time and energy.

When we find the hope and perseverance to push through, and take care of ourselves along the way, there’s a deeper level of self-respect and joy that arises.

The next time sh*it is hitting the fan, let’s take a deep breath, pull up our big girl yoga tights and keep on going. Let’s pause long enough to acknowledge the hurt, then shift focus to also include some deep place within that knows joy, and move from there.

Let’s put into place the ability to rest when we need it, to say no when we mean it and to enjoy some part of what we’ve learned about or seen in ourselves. Really, what’s the point of becoming more awake if we can’t enjoy it?!



Join Paisley June 14-17 at the inaugural Mammoth Yoga Festival. Tickets are on sale now, but a discount code will be available soon if you can make it.

Here are the four classes she’ll be teaching:

  • Brilliance, Resilience & Wholehearted Living
  • Awaken Your (Inner) Nature —outdoor experience
  • Upper Body Stability & Freedom For the Mountain Athlete 
  • Lower Body Recovery for the Mountain Athlete