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The Joy Switch: The Journey-Centered Life

Much of the work I do for my own healing, and that of my clients, revolves around emotions. During my own journey, I discovered the power of shifting the way I felt away from something that didn’t serve my highest good, to an emotion that did. Rather than shove down unhelpful emotions, I began to consciously choose feelings that would best serve my purposes. To help myself do this with greater ease, I created a sequence of steps to hone and strengthen my ability. I began to teach it to my clients with wonderful results.

Although I knew that it helped the way I felt, I wanted to understand the effect my emotions had on my physical wellbeing. During an acupuncture treatment, after my doctor had checked my pulses and found them to be uneven, indicating low function in certain areas. Without telling him why I flipped my switch and asked him to check again. He found that my pulses, indicators of organ and system function, had become almost completely level. That means that the functions of my organs and systems had regulated on their own, simply by shifting my emotions.

Kind of a Mess

For a long time, my default emotions were fear, anger, and insecurity. When an event occurred, like someone cutting me off in traffic, challenging my knowledge base, or treating me with disrespect, those were the emotions that immediately flared up. It was a well-worn neurological and energetic path. My husband asking an innocent question would trigger me feeling accused, defensive, and cause me to lash out, all in a flash. I thought he made me feel that way. I bought into the lie that I couldn’t help how I feel.

What is Your Default?

Take a moment and consider – when you are faced with something difficult or unpleasant, what are your default emotions? When something difficult or challenging happens, what emotion flashes to the surface? Right now, jot those emotions down. Next, consider: are these emotions helpful? Do they help you respond to the situation optimally? Odds are good the answer is no.

You may recall my previous column in which we talked about the responsibility each of us bears for every one of our emotions. Subconsciously, rapidly, seemingly without your control, your emotional response to stimulus arises from your subconscious. But it’s your subconscious, which can be understood, and changed.

But How?

Here is a simple exercise you can do to rapidly shift from any emotion to one that will support your wellbeing, vitality, and healing. I call it The Joy Switch.

Find a Memory

First, search your memory for a moment when you were filled with one or any combination of these emotions: love, joy, peace, grace, and gratitude. These five emotions are the highest, most positive ways to feel. Your memory could be of you relaxing on a beautiful beach on a vacation you took a while back, and the emotions could be peace and joy. One of the earliest memories I used for the Joy Switch was snuggling with my youngest son: he loves to be spooned tight and I love to oblige. The emotions tied to that memory are peace, joy, and gratitude. Another strong emotional memory was last fall, walking out to my car one morning to pick up my boys early from school and take them to Disneyland. I did a happy dance before climbing into the car, so full of joy, gratitude, and love that I just couldn’t hold myself still. Close your eyes and get that memory clear in your mind.

What to Do if You Can’t Think of Anything 

A caveat: sometimes people have a hard time finding a memory that doesn’t have a tinge of sadness, heartbreak, or anger to it. If you need to, for now, make a memory up. Imagine reading the lottery numbers and realizing you won. Or perhaps you’re standing on a stage, dressed in graduate robes, accepting your degree. Maybe it’s the moment your baby is born, or you are offered your dream job.  Ok, go find your memory, picture it as clearly as possible, feel the emotions it brings up, and then come back.

Spark an Emotion

Perhaps you were able to feel the emotions right away, perhaps it will take a little practice. When you feel those happy, positive feelings, it usually begins in the chest, around the heart. As you stay in the moment, assign that feeling the color and texture of honey. Golden honey, that sparkles with tiny bubble suspended inside, and glows with sunlight shining through. Now take that honey, and expand and swell it to fill your whole torso. Allow the honey to ooze down your arms, filling them to the fingertips. Now your fingertips are joyful! Feel it move down the legs to the tips of your toes. Yes, your toes can love! Grow it up to the very top of your head and feel your hair stand up a little. Happy hair! Check your body and see if there is any spot not filled with your joy-love honey. If you find one, allow the honey to fill it in. Are your elbows excited? Ear lobes? Flow that honey!

Hold On to It

Hold on to that feeling for as long as you can. In the beginning, it will probably only be for a few seconds. That’s ok! Try again and see if you can hang on a little longer. Extend your time a little each day. Next, hang on to the feeling while you’re doing something easy, like washing the dishes, making your bed, taking a walk, or folding the laundry. When the feeling starts to fade, gently swell it back out and glow that gold until you’re filled up again. Keep it going for as long as you like, then let it fade.

Challenge It

Then phase two: holding on to the feeling during challenging times. Flip your Joy Switch before you go into a big meeting, before you get in the car for your commute, or before you pick up your kids from school. The key is: before. Hang on to the feeling as much as you can, return to it with grace for your humanness when it slips. All the practice you did to extend the time and hold it during simple activities will pay off here. 

Use It

Lastly, flip your switch when you find yourself in the middle of big emotions. Are you already in a tense meeting? Flip that switch! Did someone cut you off and nearly cause a crash? Joy Switch! Are your kids on your last nerve? Flip, flip, flip! 


I love to use my Joy Switch. I flip it on before I go out in public. I walk through Trader Joe’s radiating love. I flow through traffic in joy and peace. Yes, I slip, I forget, then I laugh and flip it again. 

Are you using your Joy Switch? Try it out – let me know how it goes!

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