Grace Harry is a joy strategist. Her career in entertainment, which includes the management of Usher (who has graced our pages in a meaningful way before — find that here) and support for artists like Jay-Z and Lauryn Hill, all point to Grace’s unique gift to deeply connect people to their authentic voice.
Grace is part of what she calls a “joy revolution”. She is on a mission to help more of us open our hearts and reveal our own light. Skeptical? We get that — which is why we knew we had to run Grace’s story.
Somehow, many of us have accumulated deep skepticism, resistance and major blocks to “joy”. Life is hard, and it’s easy to become worn down by the tough things we encounter. We asked Grace to unpack this with us and share more about how we can open up to one of life’s most obvious positivity measures…
The Chalkboard: Grace, why do you think we downplay the value of joy so much? It can make many of us uncomfortable or even angry. How did we get here?
Grace Harry: People believe that Joy is something elusive or outside of themselves — like happiness. The truth is that Joy is our birthright. As children, we lived In Joy. Around 11, we start seeing adulthood at the end of the free, youthful ‘life tunnel’. Survival traits stemming from social, parental, school and peer pressure all begin to morph us. We become people pleasers, saboteurs and “victims of circumstance”, which smalls us into believing we don’t deserve or are even able to access joy.
“We take ourselves so seriously. We use our challenging circumstances as an excuse not to push through growth to freedom which equals joy.”
We create ‘representatives’ that interact with everyone in our worlds in the form of manipulation We manipulate to get whatever response we want from them in order to feel whatever our addiction is (being wanted, loved, appreciated and/or valued). Therefore, we are never in honest and vulnerable exchanges with anyone. We are managing everyone’s feelings but our own.
TCM: Kids have an innate relationship with joy. How can adults protect that in children?
GH: Kids arrive on this planet with the belief that they deserve support. They have complete faith that their needs are important to everyone in their life. They have yet to be shouldered by the well-intentioned amuture adults (parents), telling them how they should feel and think. The easiest example I have to give is to watch kids around adults, sometimes they are not feeling it when their parents demand they hug or kiss an adult friend after they have expressed that they don’t want to. When we force those kinds of encounters we are teaching children to defy their own intuition (to ignore their gut). It can make them second guess themselves and teach them that their needs are second in this world.
TCM: How can we ourselves reclaim our child-like joy?
GH: By truly becoming childlike in how we communicate with each other. As adult representatives, we have learned to navigate the landmine of emotions that come from vulnerability and have developed an avoidance to feeling. Instead of being direct, we speak inside our own heads. We are telling a non-verbal story of our closed hearts to all around us, leaving them to create their own story about our needs and feelings. We need to feel safe enough inside of ourselves to be honest about our own needs and then vocalize them with the same sweetness that a child would.
TCM: For the skeptics, what success metrics do you see in people who learn to tap back in to their own joy?
GH: Yes, there is a lot of research about the health effects of joy. We understand how stress impacts our immune systems, but my personal metrics are energy and feelings. If you can tell me that your life is fantastic with nurturing, healing and loving relationships, then you should be a skeptic because you have clearly figured it all out. Most people cannot say that their intimate, family and professional relationships are thriving.
TCM: You’ve worked with so many successful individuals in this area. Can you share 3-5 specific tools you use with them on this?
GH: Try The Mirror Chat — Look in the mirror and talk to yourself until you can clearly hear your inner dialogue. It’s that first instinct—not the voice that comes in and criticizes. It’s the voice you know you heard when you felt like a star in your own story. That’s your protagonist, and it’s time to listen. We have to source that and begin to use that voice to support your dreams, instead of attacking them.
Ditch the shoulds, can’ts, and won’ts — Get honest with yourself about what your most joyful life looks like. If you use the words “should” “can’t” or “won’t”, get rid of them, and forget whatever thought came after it.
Sweet talk yourself — Talk to yourself sweetly. This is important:
“We speak to ourselves more critically than we would to anyone, even strangers. Be sweet and gentle with yourself everyday, all day. Talk to yourself like someone you cherish and respect.”
And when I say talk to yourself, I mean literally — you have to speak out loud to yourself in a way that begins to change your self-narrative.
Create your joy toolbox — Create a toolbox of joy that you dip into every morning. Include what brings you joy that could be a daily affirmation, a meaningful quote, a crystal, or aromatherapy.
TCM: What are 3 assignments you’d give people this week to practice this…
1- Think about one thing that makes you laugh and do that activity for 5 minutes everyday.
2 – All the fancy shit you save for company. Pull it out! YOU are the company and you deserve to enjoy the finer things you have. Being surrounded by things that elevate your mood helps the overall shift to believing that every moment you can live in joy.
3 – Take a week off from conversations with people that bring you down in any way and then keep track of how different you feel when you are not combating that energy on top of everything else.
4 – Describe, in vivid detail, the first time you can remember that you felt like you were doing work that made you totally come alive. It could be a memory from any age, but you know the feeling I’m talking about: the tingling, oh-my-god-I’m-on-cloud-fucking-nine feeling. It’s when you felt elation. Tell me about it, and spare no detail.
TCM: What are your best reading tips on the topic: