Speaking of Joy: Our Natural State

My friend is a new grandmother.  Her daughter-in-law is documenting the baby’s development with a weekly post on Facebook. 

Every week, the changes are so obvious with one exception.   His bright eyes always look the same.  They are brimming with joy. 

As Dr. Wayne Dyer once said, our “natural state is joy.”   The eyes of a baby quickly confirm his observation. 

It’s quite the contrast to what I see sometimes in the eyes of neighbors, friends and people on the street.  

Our once-natural-state-of-joy can quickly become a permanent-state-of-sick-and-tired.    I call it becoming “adultified” – a term I borrowed from a favorite Cincinnati art teacher.

Many years ago, I took his painting class on Saturday mornings.  Serious adults made up half of the class.  Most were secret wanna-be-artist.   The other half of the class were giggling children usually with paint in their hair.

Early on, my teacher gently told me that my process was “adultified.”   He didn’t elaborate but I got the gist.  

My brush strokes were tentative and lacking in spontaneity.  And the more critical I was, the worse my work became.

Suddenly, Saturday mornings weren’t fun any more.   I was painting with a desired result in mind and when that didn’t happen, I was disappointed and judgmental. 

Watching the children paint was in sharp contrast to my process.  They were 100% confident that their flowers were the prettiest every painted.  Move over Van Gogh.  Step aside Monet.

These little artists were happy, optimistic and certain of their work.  

     “Blue is my favorite color so I made a big sky.”  

     “My house looks just like this but with a red door.”

     “I wish I had a bird.  I like yellow wings.”

Their happiness was in every brush stroke.   They had no outcome in mind and they were not one bit worried about what anyone else might think.

In fact, not once did any child ask me if I liked their painting.   Their creative expression didn’t need my approval.   It was about their natural joy and imagination.  And it showed in their work.

There’s a lesson in that for all of us adults.  

Until next week, I hope your life is naturally joyful and a lot less adultified. 


Linda Sterling Sease is a professional speaker, career coach & writer on the power of joy to transform companies, homes and communities.  To explore how Linda can work with your organization, call 303-319-5829 or email her at Linda at SterlingSease.com.