“I’m going to make joy my life focus, “ I announced enthusiastically to my closest friends.

“I’m going to practice joy, preach joy, live joy. It’s all about joy for me now. Joy to the world—literally. It’s going to be 24/7 joy!”

For almost three years, I had been talking about how to bring more joy into my life. I talked about joy to anyone who would listen. I talked about finding more joy in my life. I talked about writing about joy. I talked about the importance of joy as our heart connection to the planet. I talked and I talked and I talked a lot about joy.

But talking about joy is not living joy.

The fact is, I talked about joy because it felt a lot easier to talk about joy than to really live it.

Then one day it didn’t. After four years of trying and failing, of working and working and working while thinking about but never fully experiencing my joy, I finally had had enough!

I decided that come hell or high water or both, I was going to show up to joy every single damn day. I had no idea what that meant. I just couldn’t stand hearing the sound of my own hopeful promises reverberating against the increasingly joyless walls of my life any longer. It was time to say goodbye to fear-based workaholism and invite joy back in for good.

For the next three months, one very clear message kept coming through: Create a daily practice of joy — and then write about it.

So day by day, I began practicing joy — and three months later I wrote and posted my first Daily Practice of Joy blog. I had tried blogging once or twice before, but I’d never stuck with it. That April morning, however, I needed to let my message of joy, my fear of never moving past my workaholism, and my desire for connection through words flow out of me and into the world.

After four years of talking about joy and then falling back into the morass of workaholism — rewind, repeat, rewind, repeat—I only really began living a joy-based life after I posted my first blog. I could never have known that sending my truth out into the world with the simple press of a button would so radically change my life.

I had no expectations for my blog. I just knew that if I kept ignoring my own heart and silencing my true self, one day everything would irreparably shatter. From my very first blog, I took the risk of revealing parts of myself I had never thought I would let anyone see. I wrote about my fear and failings, my hopes and dreams, my delusions and desperation. It felt unbelievably scary airing what my mother would have called my dirty laundry. But I had finally recognized that I couldn’t change my life by myself. I had to create a community of fellow joy practitioners—even if I only imagined them in my mind.

I was simply following my heart-based hunch that showing up every day in joy was the key to shifting my lifelong battle with workaholism, lack of self-worth, crippling doubt about my life purpose, and even the biggest monster of them all—self-loathing.

I had no proof that this would work, other than I knew that I always felt better—about myself, about my life, about my purpose, about others, and about the whole planet—when I moved through the world with joy.

As it all turned out, it did work. Practicing joy and sharing my practice changed my life, shifted my addiction to work, allowed me to stand up to my lack of self-worth and reduce my doubts about my life purpose. It has even gone a long way to heal that life-long lie of self-loathing.

It took me until my fifties to finally show up to my truest self and begin living my best life. So what worked when so many other things I had tried hadn’t?

Three things in combination: Joy. Practice. Accountability.

I embraced my own joy and committed to showing up to it every single day by practicing it. Practicing it so I could get better at it.

Then—and this was the kicker—I held myself accountable to others in my sharing of my joy practice. Accountable to my own creativity. Accountable to my desire to heal—both myself and others who were struggling in similar ways— through sharing the words that came through me. Accountable to a new community of fellow joy practitioners.

Joy. Practice. Accountability.

Those three things changed my life.

Adapted from The Way of Being Lost (c) Victoria Price, February 2018 from Ixia Press, an imprint of Dover Publications. All Rights Reserved, reprinted with permission.