3 things to Learn About the Inspiring
Life Coach Jolynn Swafford

Photographer Kat Hennessey

Stylist Jessica Shakir

” I had to embrace just being grateful for being alive, for my heart beating, and for the little things.I discovered joy by backing into it. I realized joy, this emotion – whatever we want to call it – was the prize.”

What is your definition of joy?

It’s not a choice; it’s a journey. It’s the prize of the journey you are living in. Everyone is in a different place in that journey.

What is the difference between happiness & joy?

Joy is a mile deep and a mile wide. Happiness is an inch deep and a mile wide. Happiness scratches the surface compared to joy.  I think joy is just simply infinite, and it’s something that can serve other people. It’s contagious and long-lasting, whereas happiness is temporary. The difference between happiness and joy, probably the most critical difference, is that happiness can be taken away. Happiness depends on external factors, and some of those factors you can’t control. Joy is permanent and built from within. I like to say that when you have joy, you don’t need anything else. Everything else is a bonus. When you’re living a life where external material
things or external circumstances become a bonus, life is just a lot more fun. It’s a lot more relaxed.

How were you able to find your joy?

   I really didn’t have a choice. I learned at an early age that there was evil in the world. I was gang raped at a party. I didn’t have the tools to deal with it; I just completely blocked it out. When the memory came back to me, I was a successful executive in a healthcare company, I had an MBA, a beautiful house, the perfect marriage, kids. The external happiness was there. One day, I was watching an Oprah Winfrey episode on date rape; suddenly, everything came back. That is when the journey began. I came across joy almost as an accident in trying to survive. I realized that I had to learn to love myself and others unconditionally. I learned that I could change the meaning of my experience, and I had to give the people who hurt me grace. I had to forgive them. Then, even harder, I had to forgive myself. I had to show myself and other people compassion, I would say the number one thing was deciding to not live in the past. That is the key. One of the key components of joy is that it is in the present moment and in the future, it’s not in the past.


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