3 Ways to Cultivate Joy


joi/ noun. A feeling of great pleasure and happiness.

This blog and our new Resort Collection was inspired by one of the most important lessons our partners and girlfriends in Cambodia have taught us... and that is how to cultivate joy. Everywhere you go in Cambodia people are laughing and singing. Bright, fun, vibrant joy emanates from deep within their hearts. We wanted to share 3 ways to cultivate joy in your lives. We share first hand experiences, and professional perspectives on ways you can #liveinjoy!

1. Practice Gratitude

Brene Brown, a NYT Best Selling Author, Researcher, and Storyteller (also, a native Texan!) explains Joy as one of the most vulnerable emotions we can feel. In Brown's research she found that people were actively practicing a form of self defense called “foreboding joy.”

“Joy is the most vulnerable emotion we experience,” Brown says. “And if you cannot tolerate joy, what you do is you start dress rehearsing tragedy. How many of you have ever stood over your child while they’re sleeping and thought, ‘Oh my God, I love you’ — and then pictured something horrific happening?” Brown asks. "When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding. So what we do in moments of joyfulness, we try to beat vulnerability to the punch," Brown explains. 

During her research, Brown says she met people who had a profound capacity for joy. The difference, she says, is that when something really blissful happened to them, they felt grateful. “Instead of using it as a warning to start practicing disaster, they used it as a reminder to practice gratitude,” Brown says.

“For 12 years of research, I have never interviewed a single person who talks about the capacity to really experience and soften into joy, who does not actively practice gratitude. Period.”
— Brene Brown

Brown explains, "Gratitude is a practice, it is tangible and you can see the effects". Browns advice: practice gratitude in the small moments of everyday, and especially in moments where you are feeling joyful, and afraid!

Exercise: Pause 3 times throughout your day today (and everyday) and say, "I am so grateful for this moment".

2. Be Present

Finding joy in the ordinary, simple moments in life by being completely present, is one of the greatest lessons the women in Cambodia have taught us. Sitting in the Penh Lenh studio, you can see the joy that beams off the young girls faces. They sing, they laugh, they play. They don't seem to need much, just a few snacks, a little Justin Beiber, and each others company (mostly to play pranks on). There is a peace about the joy they feel. Their joy isn't wrapped up in complexities, modern day self help trends, mantras, or material possessions, but rather, it comes from contentment within the present moment. It is as if our partners and friends in Cambodia have unlocked the present moment, stepped inside, and are able to sit still in that space. Their thoughts don't seem preoccupied with the past, or worried about the future, just at complete peace with exactly where they are, focused on exactly what they are doing... and it turns out, that level of presence, opens up the space for Joy. Completely silly, giggly, belly laughing, playful, lighthearted joy.

Exercise: Take 3 deep breaths and focus on the present moment. Watch your hands as they type, truly tune in and listen to your friends when they talk, or try to fully taste your water as you drink it. These small acts can help build the muscle of mindfulness and open up space for joy.

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Okay, Okay, we know... this is MUCH easier said than done, but hear us out. We know that not everyone is born knowing their calling, feeling their true sense of purpose deep in their bones. Our founder often speaks on the topic of finding your calling and how it took her 26 years. In her words, "I felt like I was sort of floating, purposeless for years, I never had a hobby as a child, I was never passionate in High School or College about sports or academics... I hated when I was asked what my hobbies were in school, because I always felt embarrassed about the fact that I had no idea... there were many things that were interesting, but none that felt like a true calling, hobby, or passion. It wasn't until I traveled to Cambodia for the first time (and out of the country for the first time) that I truly felt at home in my body, soul, and like I was on the path to living my true calling". 

 We tell you this, to say, everyone is on a different path. Some people are born knowing they are meant to be teachers or doctors or parents. They feel their calling their whole life, while for others, it could take years. Try to release judgement around the "I should've figured it out by now, so I never will" self talk. Kate's personal advice, "Go try everything, take risks, trust your gut, and leap into the unknown. You will know when you find it, or truly, when it finds you. You will feel like you are at home for the first time in your life, and there will be moments (mind you living out your calling DOES NOT MEAN that you are void of challenges, trails, and heartbreak) however, there will be moments, that come over you with the greatest sense of awe, a feel something like, HOLY SH*T, I AM LIVING MY DREAMS". We want everyone to find, cultivate, and feel that. What a world that would be! We have found an incredible resource to help you figure out what your calling may be.

Exercise: Below are four questions to ask yourself to help you find your calling. (Yes, we love Oprah & Super Soul Sunday!) Steven Pressfield says everyone has a calling—even if they're not exactly sure what it is. Oprah says our real job in life is to identify that calling.

  1. What are you more afraid of than anything in the whole world?

  2. Or what would you do if you knew you were going to die in three months?

  3. What would be the last thing that you would do?

  4. What would you do – it’s the old thing that you have heard before — if fear were not a factor or if money were not a factor?

....any ideas? If so, we encourage you to GO FOR IT! If you are waiting for a sign, this is it.LIVe your calling & #liveinjoy.

Kate Davis