A friend and I made a pact to focus on joy for 30 days. The funny thing is, after 18 months of pandemic, social and political unrest, climate disasters, and more, I was having trouble connecting to what brings me joy.
I decided to focus on really simple, kinda silly things. At the top of my list is watching Alfonso Ribeiro do his famous “Carlton Dance.” Makes me happy every time I see it. The dance originated on the show Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Carlton was the preppy, uptight foil to his cool and funny cousin, Will. Whenever he thought no one was home, Carlton would crank up Tom Jones’s song, “It’s Not Unusual,” and dance with abandon around the living room. The whole thing – from song choice to signature dance moves – is ridiculous but infectious because we’re watching Carlton’s unapologetic, nerdy, embarrassing joy unfold.
In a course I’m taking, Sara Landon said, “In the vibration of the problem, you will not find the solution.” She suggested that pursuing and finding our joy leads to answers.
When I look back on my 30-year career, my best, most fruitful, and most creative ideas never sprang from a place of forced concentration. They came to me in relaxed and happy moments. In the shower, on a road trip with my family, during a weekend retreat with friends. Then, too, my most successful and easiest projects, the ones that seemed to come together almost magically, were those that filled me with joy. I’ve launched many other projects I thought I should do, in which I worked hard and did my best. Some took off, but they never felt as easy or as fulfilling as I’d hoped they would.
I struggle with “chasing my bliss,” because it seems so spoiled and privileged to give myself permission to live life that way. I’m well aware many people are not in a position to comfortably do that. But what if sometimes I could give myself permission to lean into happiness and relaxation without feeling guilty, what could I dream up next? What new ways could I imagine to better serve my family, company, and community?
In a joyful vibration, I may find the answers.
I’d love to have been a fly on the wall when Ribeiro created his “Carlton Dance.” I read that in the script it said only, “Carlton dances,” and I imagine Ribeiro getting into character and just playing around until he landed on the perfect moves. He says he combined Eddie Murphy’s “White Man Dance” and the moves Courtney Cox did in the Bruce Springsteen video, “Dancing in the Dark,” and voila, a classic was born. While that dance didn’t change the world, it is still bringing joy 30 years later.
By Teresa R. Funke
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