Jacqueline Kelm has worked as an application engineer, a corporate executive, and a motivational management leader. She has hosted many workshops and presentations about "Appreciative Living," her approach to positive psychology. This philosophy is based on five principles which she outlines at the outset:
• The Constructionist Principle: Change Your Stories to Change Your Life
• The Poetic Principle: Look for Joy in All the Right Places
• The Simultaneity Principle: Harness the Power of Questions
• The Anticipatory Principle: Act from Inspiration Rather Than Desperation
• The Positive Principle: Be Upward Trendy
Kelm decided to apply these principles to her "It's All About Joy" Study for which she recruited 30 people from around the country to participate in a 28-day course in which they would do three exercises:
1. List three things you appreciate each day, and take a moment to feel your gratitude.
2. Each day answer this question: "What one thing can I do today, no matter how small, to increase my joy?"
3. Once a week do a fifteen-minute visioning exercise of your ideal, joy-filled life.
Tracking the participants responses, Kelm found that they were much happier at the end of the 28-day trial and they still felt that way six months later. Reading their stories and comments, we see how easy it is to be blind to the small moments of joy in our lives when we think of happiness in terms of big happenings or experiences. These men and women discovered that they were responsible for actively creating joy by making it a priority every day. Asking the question forced them to make an intention and follow through on it. Kelm concludes:
"Positive emotion is essential for effective change. Creating more joy not only feels good; it is central to living a productive life. We can build momentum toward greater joy by focusing on the positive core and paying attention to what really takes us upward."
Staying focused is hard for many people in these multitasking times so the author delivers "7 Secrets for Staying on Track:"
1. Create positive rituals
2. Track your results
3. Reward Your Success
4. Create Novelty
5. Get Inspired
6. Partner with Someone or Join a Group
7. Do It Anyway
Kelm shares many of the definitions of joy by those in her study but then turns to Rachel Naomi Remen's Kitchen Table Wisdom for this definitive definition:
"Joy seems to be a part of an unconditional wish to live, not holding back because life may not meet our preferences and expectations. Joy seems to be a function of the willingness to accept the whole, and to show up to meet with whatever is there . . . It is the lover drunk with the opportunity to love despite the possibility of loss, the player for whom playing has become more important than winning or losing . . . Joy seems more closely related to aliveness than to happiness."