There was a young man in one of my classes who loves to dance. Whenever he heard music, his Michael Jackson moves would come out. He could dance and dance, song after song. The look on his face was always one of sincere concentration and love. He was a living embodiment of the oft-quoted phrase, “Dance as if no one is watching.”
The challenge with this young man was that he loved dancing so much, that it seemed to be the only thing he really wanted to do. Our teaching staff was concerned that it was a distraction and was getting in the way of his academics. Then, we learned something new. As a team, we discovered that when we wove enough dancing into our day, it actually improved his concentration and engagement during academics. What at first seemed like an obstacle turned into a bridge to greater success in the classroom.
We all have things we love to do. Many of us believe that we have to put off those things until we finish our less-desired tasks. While this may develop a strong will and ability to persevere, it does not lead to a life of joy and ease. Like the boy who loves to dance, we are likely to find that the more time we devote to doing the things that we enjoy doing, the more energy we will have to do the mundane activities on our agenda. We also develop a new sense of what is truly important in life.
Joy is the fuel for a successful life. When we tap into our joy, we become more effective in everything we do. Joy makes us more attractive and charismatic. Joy turns us into better communicators and motivators of people. Indulging in our joy is not a sign of weakness or foolishness, rather, joy is a sign of wisdom and understanding.
Perhaps you have been withholding from yourself the very things that could be making your life everything you want it to be. Start right now to reconsider how you can be more generous with yourself. If you are willing to consider it, you will discover that you have more time than you think to devote to self-care and delight. Whether it is painting, bowling, gardening, or playing cards; if it brings you joy, it is an indicator that it is something worth doing.
Remember, you do not need permission to be yourself. One night I was walking to get some items at a nearby grocery store. I put on some music in my earbuds and started thinking about my student. It hit me that he would be dancing down the street, unconcerned what anyone else might think about his dance moves. I decided to be a little more like my student and danced my way home from the grocery store. By the time I got to my front door, I felt like a new man.
Go ahead and give yourself permission to dance your own dance and live your own life. By tapping into the joy that comes so natural, you will transform your world. Rather than judge you, people will light up when you enter the room. There is no more welcome sight than someone who is glowing with the enthusiasm that comes from doing what they love.
Edward Biagiotti is the Inclusion Specialist for Culver City Unified School District. For questions, comments, and ideas for future columns, send an email to EdwardBiagiotti@ccusd.org