Make Joy Treaties With the People In Your Life

Any two people, be they acquaintances, close friends, or romantic partners, can look at the same sunset and have two completely different experiences.  One person can be in absolute awe of how pristine the sunset is and find the experience of the sunset to be utterly joyful.  While the other person can be worried about the huge To-Do list that he or she feels urgency to accomplish.  This second person might find the experience of watching the sunset much less than joyful and almost downright frustrating.

While their experiences of watching the sunset are very different, these two people are both responsible for the quality of the interaction they have with one another as they watch the sunset.  They can either be kind and generous in their words to each other or they can complain and argue with one another

Each one of us is ultimately responsible for the degree of joy we feel or don’t feel at any given moment.  Yet in interactions, we work with whomever we happen to be interacting with to make the interaction more or less joyful.

When two people interact with each other, they each have the opportunity to shape the quality and feelings of that experience.  Complaining and arguing can become a major part of any two people’s interactions, almost to the point where it seems as if complaining and arguing is the agreed upon focus of the relationship.  This focus can be exhausting, hurtful and stressful, not to mention, that it’s not much fun.

Considering this I got to wondering, what would it be like if the vast majority of our interactions with people close to us were full of joy?

If we step back and think about it, isn’t this really the life we want for the people close to us and ourselves?

So towards this end, I’m beginning to make JOY TREATIES with my friends and family.  Whereas a peace treaty focuses the participants’ attention on choosing to create peace, a JOY TREATY focuses participants’ attention on choosing to create joy.  Isn’t this a fun idea?

Will a JOY TREATY with somebody guarantee that we never again complain and argue with him or her?  Of course not!  We are human so we want room to complain and argue when things are going really poorly.  But just as a compass can serve as a guide when we find ourselves lost in the woods, a JOY TREATY can serve as a guide when we find ourselves lost in complaining or arguing.

JOY TREATIES can make a difference.  Just think of how absolutely FUN it would be if the vast majority of the conversations you had were full of joy. (If the vast majority of your conversations are already filled with joy, definitely celebrate that.)  Can you imagine somebody asking you when the last time you argued or complained was and looking at him or her funny and saying, “It’s been so long, I honestly have no idea.”  How GREAT would that be?  How much FUN would that be?

Joy Treaty

{_NAME___} and {_NAME___} hereby freely and happily agree to endeavor to create joy in all of our interactions.

We acknowledge that at all times the choice to feel joyful or other than joyful is an individual choice, and that we are each ultimately responsible for feeling our own joy.

Within this understanding of our freedom to feel our own joy, we are creating the intention to have joy be what we are seeking in our interactions and in our shared experiences together. We are choosing to see the best in each other and bring out the best in each other, simply because it brings us so much joy.

This Joy Treaty can serve as a compass to guide us back towards joy when we find ourselves complaining or arguing. We acknowledge that there are countless emotions that come up in close relationships, both joyful and not so joyful. This Joy Treaty is not an agreement to fake joy regardless of how we are feeling. Rather, when we are feeling bad, frustrated or angry in our relationship, to authentically and gently share those feelings as a way of getting back on a path that leads to joy. To authentically share hard feelings takes courage and integrity, which is part of what makes the path of creating intentional joy a deeply rewarding path.

Joy is one of the highest emotions that we as humans can feel. Because it feels so good, we choose to find joy in our relationship as a way of living our lives more fully.

We hereby agree to abide by the goodness within this Joy Treaty.

Signature of Participant One


Signature of Participant Two


 Game of the Day

  1. Who do you want to make a JOY TREATY with?
  2. Print off the JOY TREATY above or compose you own.
  3. Show it to the person you want to make the JOY TREATY with.
  4. If they agree to it, have a JOY TREATY signing party.
  5. Enjoy the fruits of the JOY TREATY in your relationship.

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to 

Honoring the Opportunity To Talk With a Friend (When You Feel Down)

Having a conversation with a friend when you feel down can be a highly rewarding experience for both you and your friend.  This conversation is an amazing opportunity to honor your friend by celebrating the fact that you trust them enough to confide in them.

From my experience with this type of talk, I’ve found that there are a few things to keep in mind so that this conversation can be a strong positive experience for both of you.

  1. Honor your friend’s schedule (if possible)- Sometimes, when we are feeling down, we tend to call our friend with the intention of talking about how we are feeling right this minute.  This strategy can be hard on our friend because they are often already in the middle of doing something.  So it’s probably most effective to schedule a time to talk.  Scheduling a time to talk helps insure that our friend is in a place to give us their full attention.  And it also allows us to collect our thoughts and become clearer as to what we want to talk with our friend about.  (The exception to scheduling a time to talk is if you really feel you are in an emergency situation.  Then call your friend and say, “I am in an emergency situation, can we please talk now.)
  2. As you talk to your friend, honor their listening by expressing how you are feeling honestly and clearly.
  3. Express emotion to your level of comfort.  Do this in such a way that you are expressing how you feel, and at the same time honoring the safety of both you and your friend.  This means that you are focusing on releasing your painful emotions out into the open air rather than directing them towards your friend or back towards yourself.  Think of your emotional energy as releasing from you like smoke from a chimney.  You want this chimney to go straight up from you, so that you are not smoking out your friend or coughing on your own smoke.
  4. When your friend offers a comment, listen closely to them and to your reactions to what they are saying.  Listen for the light at the end of the tunnel.
  5. If you feel like you really just need to express your sadness and frustration, be clear and say.  “I want to express my sadness and frustration right now without focusing on ways to feel better.”  Cues like this let your friend know how to best help you, and also help you maintain your focus on what you are feeling, instead of becoming frustrated and nitpicking about how your friend is responding to you.

These are a few ideas to keep in mind the next time you feel down and reach out to talk with a friend.  By reaching out with respect, you honor both your friend and yourself and create a nice atmosphere for a healing conversation.

Game of the Day

What will your approach be the next time that you are feeling down and reach out to a friend?

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to

Saying No Without Creating Drama

I found the key to saying “no” to anybody from telemarketers to significant others is to always honor the person and your relationship with them as you say “no.”

Honor the person making the request that you are saying “no” to by first by giving them basic respect.  Even though it might be tempting, try not to hang up on anybody including telemarketers.  And listen, even to telemarketers, long enough to understand what they are asking of you.

Honor the person by clearly saying “no” to their request.  Make it clear that you understand their request, and at the same time that you are choosing to saying “no” to their request.  This is much more effective than hinting around that you are a “no” or saying “maybe” when you are really “no.”

Remember, “no” means “no.”  It is sometimes tempting to go into an extensive explanation about why you are saying “no.”  This explanation just takes up time for both of you and can turn into a debate or even an argument.

Finally, find a way to appreciate the people you are saying “no” to.  With a telemarketer, you can always thank them for taking the time to call you and if they are cheerful on the phone, thank them for being cheerful on the phone.

With a significant other, end the conversation where you said “no” by taking the opportunity to let them know how much they mean to you.   The trick with appreciating the people that you are saying “no” to, is to be authentic in your praise and not just say a bunch of stuff to make them feel better.

The ability to say “No” to requests in a way that doesn’t create drama is a wonderful tool to have.  Have fun saying “No!”

 Game of the Day

How can you honor the next person that you say “No” to, while, at the same time, still be very clear in your “No?”

Creating A Helpful Conversation When A Friend Is Going Through A Rough Time

For the sake of today’s blog entry, say you have a good friend named Jake who you have known for years.

Your friend Jake calls you at four in the afternoon barely able to get out the words, “I just lost the job I had for twenty years.  Five months ago we got a new boss and he never liked me.  He called me into the his office and said I had to go because I was not keeping up with my paperwork.”

You switch off your computer monitor and the thought goes through your head, “How in the world do I help my wonderful friend?”

Jake’s focus is naturally on the shock, anger and frustration about being unexpectedly fired.  So the best place to start helping Jake is probably right where Jake is focused.  As the conversation progresses, you may be able to help Jake broaden his focus so that he feels more in control and better about the whole situation, but at this moment Jake needs to talk about the loss of his job.

Simply, repeating back to Jake as much as you can remember of what he just said can show Jake that he is being listened to and also have a calming effect. You could start by saying something like this, “So you got a new boss in your office five months ago….” and continue on to repeat the rest of what he said.

Or you can let Jake know that you are listening closely by delivering the content and emotion of what he said back to him but not using his exact words.  In this case, you might say something like “So you are saying you are very frustrated.  Your boss let you go today because he said that you didn’t complete paperwork when he wanted you to.”

Whether you choose to repeat what Jake said back to him or to paraphrase what he said or employ a combination of the two techniques, you show Jake that you heard him and also allow him a chance to slow down his thoughts, which could well be racing, and rehear what he just said.

Once you understand what Jake is dealing with and he feels that you have listened to him, you have an opportunity to begin conversing with Jake in a way that shifts the conversation.

Your purpose in shifting the focus of the conversation is to help Jake feel strong as he deals with this sudden crisis in his life.  So you can begin to remind Jake of the strengths he has.  You can do this by saying something like, “Wow you have twenty years work experience and are well-respected in the field.  It sounds like you would be a good catch for a lot of companies out there.”  Or you can invite Jake to create his own list of strengths by asking the question, “What are your major strengths as you apply for new jobs?”

To end your conversation with Jake consider asking him to reflect on the positive part of his week. Jake presumably had some good things happen in his week before his boss fired him.   Maybe say something like, “I understand that you are thinking a great deal about the news you got today about your job, but aside from that what has been nice about the past week?”  This question gives Jake a chance to enjoy his life again, and to remember more of his strengths.

 Game of the Day

In the next conversation you have with someone who is dealing with an area of struggle try the following practices:

 1.  Repeat or paraphrase what the person says so that you show them that you are listening closely and also allow them a chance to slow down their thoughts.

 2.  Once you understand what they are dealing with and they feel that you have listened to them, shift the focus of the conversation to the person’s strengths by making an observation or asking a question.

 3.  Finally, ask them to reflect on the positive part of their week.  This question gives them a chance to enjoy their life again, and to remember more of their strengths.