From bouncing on trampolines, to blowing bubbles, to running around town decked out in sequins and costume, Grace Harry is an expert in all things joy. We’re talking dance like no one’s watching, unapologetic, old school, seven-year-old JOY. And her work centers around helping others rediscover it, too. Through her “playdates,” where she creates a personalized, joyful space for everyone from top executives to professional musicians, she encourages her clients to embrace joy and welcome it back into their lives. She even has a few simple hacks for living in everyday joy (hint: DANCE). Here we sat down with Grace to talk her path, what joy actually means and how we can all find some time to reconnect with joy in our day-to-day life.
What was your path in becoming a joy strategist?
I was essentially raised by two teenagers. As an adult, I felt I was holding on to a collection of stories about how I was raised, who I was as a woman, a mother. What it meant to be divorced for the third time. I needed validation from my career, and none of it made me happy. So I started thinking about what is happy? What was that journey for me? So I had my own “Eat, Pray, Love” moment. I did breathwork retreats in the jungle, I did ayahuasca, Burning Man, life coaches, AA. Then I started working with Lauren Zander of the Handel Group. She helped me understand the truth in my life as a black woman from various cultures and the transformational power of living in that truth. It got me thinking. What I realized was that we’re taught to hide our joy. We don’t live inside joy.
So I decided to sit on a swing, wear different colored shoelaces, wear costumes outside and make up songs. I dance when want to. So I started to dive into it. Children live in joy, in the moment, why can’t we?
How do you define joy?
Anything comes to you without thinking. It’s using the heart first in the body. The brain is only recycled information. It doesn’t have anything but what someone else put in it. We can change these stories and choose joy. It’s about accessing all the ways we can feel fantastic. We’re in our gut, our feelings.
What’s the first thing you notice about those who come to you? Are they lacking joy, or are they not taking advantage of all of the joyful opportunities?
Everyone on the planet has the same problem. We came in and we came in fully loaded to be this joyful creature, but as we learned to survive, we started altering ourselves performatively in order to access love. Joy is nothing but authenticity when you actually access your joy. You’ve done it before. You don’t need someone superior to connect you to humanity. But the reason my clients turn to joy and my playdates is to drop out of their heads and into their hearts. When you’re in your head, you’re dead. We’re comparing and despairing. But really, we are a rainbow.
Can you describe your joy work?
We do a playdate in my playroom. Before my clients come, I find out their age, where they live. I have cartoons ready that they may have watched, or music they’ve listened to, or snacks and treats they like. I’m helping them feed off joy like kids do. I’m helping people learn in their dynamics. If you’re going to win at this game of life, you need a team.
What are some hacks to help people find joy in their lives?
Start the day and make it about you, even just for three minutes. Whip out a joke book, read it while you’re taking a sh*t. It’s like getting a job or doing something essential. Make it part of your morning routine. Don’t have the day run you, you have to run the day. Dance to a three minute song that you loved when you were eight years old. Put it on. Have it on your phone. dance your ass off in the bathroom while you’re brushing your teeth. Change your state first. It’s essentially the tool of transformation. Once you’re there, you’ll have more space, different ideas, and a different perspective.