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Joy - That’s What It’s About, Isn’t It?

by Nancy Blake(more info)

listed in nlp, originally published in issue 136 - June 2007

As I write, there are a few snow-drops still thriving, some pink blossoms appearing, and daffodils still tightly in bud. Hopefully, by the time you read this, there will have been intermittent days of that warm sunshine that deceives us into feeling we are ten (or 20, or 30!) years younger, our life is ahead of us, full of radiant possibilities, and we can achieve all our ambitions. And find the perfect lover to share the spring sunshine in the park! (Someone in the distance, playing a guitar… bringing back memories.)

Of course, this is just the teasing of the soft, bright sunshine. But what lovely feelings, what lovely beliefs… if we can experience even just moments of such joy, we enrich our spirits, and also, by the way, create a flood of the neurotransmitters which enhance our health!

So, consider it done. Look up, at the constantly changing skies, at the tops of the trees, with their intricate webbing of branches, their richness of leaves, always in motion, they are so busy being leaves, energetically doing what leaves do; against the backdrop of the sturdy trunk, that seems unchangeable, immovable. Consider how it may be possible to be as still, as strong, as patient, as the trunk – and be as joyfully busy as the leaves – we can be both… the tree is both.

Tell me all joy comes to an end: of course it does. So does all suffering – if we exist in waves of joy and suffering, well, which would you choose to pay the most attention to? Yes, suffering seems to demand, to require our attention; and it does. Pain is nature’s way of letting us know that something needs to be done to ensure our survival – we need to take note of its messages, and do all we can to heal. Helping others to resolve their pain is one of the noblest callings; and one which readers of this journal are very likely to be following.

But suffering is only a messenger – read the message, do what you can about it, but don’t define your life by it. I am not a sufferer of Chronic Fatigue. I am a person who, among a lot of other things, is recovering from Chronic Fatigue. But not paying very much attention to it.

I witnessed a demonstration of hypnosis for a class of graduate students in Psychology. The Professor asked a student to sit in a chair, resting his arms on the arms of the chair, hands hanging down. He proceeded to draw the student’s attention to every small sensation in his right hand, while occasionally mentioning that his left hand was feeling very comfortable and relaxed. Eventually the right hand began to shake with the tension that was building up, just through the focused awareness that the Professor was encouraging. The Professor had a rubber-tipped pencil with which he touched the right hand, and the student snatched his hand away, in evident pain. In the meantime, the Professor was stabbing the left hand with a pin and waving the flame of a lighted cigarette lighter under it, which the student didn’t respond to at all. Such is the power we have in our grasp, just by choosing how to direct our attention.

When the sun comes out, luxuriate in the light, the sensations of warmth (with proper use of sunscreen, of course!). Let yourself be very, very aware of the relaxation and good feelings – record them in your memory, practise recalling them. When you see a beautiful flower, stop, look, notice the detail, the texture (be careful not to bruise it!), the scent. Let it have your complete, detailed attention, absorb the image, the sensations; allow yourself to experience the effect this concentration on beauty has on your own inner sensations – let it become a healing energy that flows through you. Again, remember it, practise recalling it in its complete beauty.

Your life has more bad moments than good? Then it’s even more important to focus, attend, concentrate on and cherish every moment of joy that comes your way. Your attention, your full attention, will amplify those moments, make them even more joyful, last longer, and come into your memory more often and more fully.

We have limited control over our external circumstances, but we can take charge of where and how we choose to spend our mental time, our thoughts. For all your good times, re-live them, enhance them, and spend your time in happy spaces. When life is challenging, become a spectator to the ‘you’ that was, or is, having an unpleasant experience – a loving, sympathetic and capable spectator, as you would be for a friend or a child – feeling sympathy, feeling admiration for the ‘you’ who is coping as well as you could, or can – give that person encouragement and strength. The spectator ‘you’ will also have advice to give, a perspective that offers greater understanding.

We are told to love our neighbour as ourselves. The hardest part is often to learn to love ourselves. We want to give joy – let us learn to be joyful!


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About Nancy Blake

Nancy Blake BA CQSW, has worked in mental health settings since 1971. She served as the Chair of the ANLP PCS (now the NLPtCA), as well as on a National Working Party developing postgraduate standards for Psychotherapy (NVQ Level 5), and contributed to the document which led to NLP being accepted as a therapeutic modality by the European Association for Psychotherapy.  She has presented workshops at UKCP Professional Conferences on an NLP approach to working with victims of abuse, and in psychoneuroimmunology.  Recovering from ME since 1986, she is the co-author, with Dr Leslie O Simpson, of the book Ramsay’s Disease (ME) about ME, as well as A Beginner's Guide to ME / CFS (ME/CFS Beginner's Guides). Both titles are available both in paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon. Nancy was previously enrolled at Lancaster University in a PhD doctoral program; her thesis topic was Conflicting Paradigms of ME/CFS and how the Psychiatric Paradigm creates its Influence in contrast to the Medical Model. She may be contacted via Her books are available to purchase at

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