I have a hard time enjoying good things as they happen.

Maybe you can relate: Perhaps you worry about how the good things are going to go wrong, or when it's going to end, or you're constantly repeating this phrase: "Yes, great, but what's next?"

The great Brené Brown knows what this is like, and puts it succinctly: "If you ask me what's the most terrifying, difficult emotion we feel as humans,” she says, “I would say joy.”

Brown calls that is-the-other-shoe-going-to-drop anxiety "foreboding joy"—sure, you’re happy, but you’re also worried embracing joy opens the door for things to go wrong.

Instead of telling allowing ourselves to feel the joy, we pop it like a balloon at a kindergartener's birthday party with our “What ifs?” It's too tempting not to.

Research shows that this phenomenon particularly plagues driven people. We think worrying will help us be prepared if things go wrong—so we deny ourselves joy when something good happens or when we finally crush that thing we've worked so hard to accomplish.

But the truth is, our minds are constantly bracing for an impact that typically doesn’t come.

85% of what we worry about never actually happens. Instead, the thing that actually prepares us for the tough stuff? Allowing ourselves to feel joy.

Basking in our joy "improves our ability to cope with distress," writes Jennier Taitz in the New York Times. And research shows that "experiencing positive emotions doesn’t set you up for disappointment, but increases your likelihood of achieving your work, health, and relationship aspirations."

Fully savoring good things as they happen—without worrying about them slipping away—is important, not only to enjoy life as you're living it, but because it’ll make you more resilient in the long run.

Fully savoring good things as they happen—without worrying about them slipping away—is important, not only to enjoy life as you're living it, but because it’ll make you more resilient in the long run.
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So how do we turn "foreboding joy" into unfiltered, straight-up "joy-joy"? Here, a few ways:

Write It Down

We often document our lives as we live them—take a scroll through your social media, text messages, or long email threads if you don't believe me. But it pays to notice how often you document what's going wrong versus what's going right.

I can scroll through a text chain and see that I've complained my refrigerator's on the fritz, and that it's unseasonably warm even though we've hit October, and that there's not enough time to do everything I want to do. Yet there were plenty of joyful moments happening alongside those annoyances.

But a joyful moment isn't showy, it doesn't ask to be looked at or documented in the way a negative moment does.

Flipping the switch yourself is possible, however—you could start a "joy journal" where you write down what's right; you could start a list of "one good things" and document just that—one good thing, every day.

Tying this into an already established routine is a good way to make it a habit. The first few minutes of your commute or a run or during your nighttime wind-down are ideal times to mark down your joy.

Lower Your Expectations of Gratitude

We all know about the power of gratitude and appreciating what you already have. Fully savoring these things can help you feel less of those "what if it's all snatched away tomorrow" feelings.

But sometimes the feeling of expressing gratitude can seem…onerous. Like you need to have a huge marker or event to then pull out the G-word.

I am here to tell you: Nah.

In fact, you don't even have to use the G-word at all. Gratitude can be expressed using different language—if something good happens to you today, you can say, "That's cool! I'm glad that happened!" That's gratitude, too.

You don't have to have a huge ritual or feel deeply indebted to or burdened by whatever's going on. Sometimes a quick "I'm happy everything went well today!" is all you really need.

Loosen Your Grip

When we are feeling foreboding joy, it's usually because we are clinging too tightly to something—scarcity mindset can make us feel like there's not enough time or money or love or (insert thing you seek here) in our lives. But the more we cling to an emotion, the more importance it takes on in our lives.

What would happen instead if we loosen our grip—on fear, on joy, on everything? If we said: I might not know when, and I might not know how, but these emotions are going to come and go no matter what.

What would happen instead if we loosen our grip—on fear, on joy, on everything?
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What if we asked ourselves: Can I sit with where I am right now, in my fear, or my happiness, or my fear of my happiness leaving me?

I think we might find the answer could be yes.

Yes, I can sit with joy and not want to run away.

Yes, I can be happy for myself right now.

Yes, I believe I deserve this.

Maybe then we can turn from constantly seeking to fully sitting in—and even enjoying—every joyous moment.


Read Next: I Tried This 10-Minute Journal Exercise to Boost My Joy—and It Worked

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