Provide equitable and accessible joy-based resources to individuals and institutions.
Joy as a lifestyle
Joy is the essential state of being alive; joy is the human base-state of peaceful vitality rooted in a deep sense of belonging in self, community, and the natural world.
01. Peaceful Vitality
The visceral experience of existing in the body without attachment to shame or judgement.
Permission to exist fully within one’s integrity, honoring one’s inextricable connection to worthiness.
Nurturing healthy relationships, honoring others as self. Understanding self as an inextricable part of the greater whole of creation.
04. Natural World
Understanding the physical world as an extension of the body, fauna and flora as an extension of community; nurturing healthy body and community.
joy expert ○ writer ○ medium
FOUNDER of sayyes2joy
Maya has dedicated the past ten years of their life to researching joy, and applying the best practices evidenced by that research. In 2014, they started SayYes2Joy, determined to share their joy-based discoveries with the world.
The biggest surprise along the way? Learning that joy comes naturally; joy isn’t something to seek out or add on…joy is innate to each person; they can rediscover and nurture it.
“Joy is the essential state of being alive; joy is the human base-state of peaceful vitality rooted in a deep sense of belonging in self, community, and the natural world.”
Maya Sterin | Research-based Definition of Joy
How It All Got Started
In 2005, after a suicide attempt, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder at the age of seventeen. That diagnosis led to a research project that never ended. I started by asking, “is happiness a choice” which eventually lead into asking the question “what is the difference between happiness and joy?”
As I went on to study writing at the University of Washington, and get my B.A. in English, Narrative, and Diversity, I continued digging into the joy research, determined to unearth a pragmatic narrative of joy.
In 2009, after graduating university a year early, I was diagnosed as unresponsive to anti-depressants. That news was shattering, but the research continued. Six months after graduating, still suicidal, I decided I'd kill myself on my birthday, March 20.
Then I read an article that glimmered with possibility.
There was a study that had just come out on neuroplasticity; scientists were proving that the brain wasn't static. It's possible for the brain to change in response to new stimuli, habits, and information.
I wasn't sure which habits or thoughts to change, how to do it, or how long it would take, or if my brain would respond.
But I knew I didn't want to die without trying.
I decided to give it three years. I promised myself three years of dedicated focus to healing my depressed brain through neuroplasticity. Much of the efforts made were led by my intuition; much of it also came well-recommended by doctors and scientists.
I dedicated myself to laugh more...exercise regularly…learn to meditate…prioritize self-care…establish healthy boundaries…practice forgiveness…practice integrity…establish & keep a schedule…nourish body…learn to garden…experiment with psychedelics…bathe…learn how to ask for things…get comfortable saying no… learn how to name emotions… learn how to recognize emotional cues from others… keep a gratitude journal…practice apologizing…learn how to accept a compliment…practice building trust…sing…stretch…practice vulnerability…learn to let go…learn to grieve with grace…
After trying all those things, and ritualizing most of them, something incredible happened. By listening attentively to depression as a pain signal and as a guide, I was able to heal the pain without losing sensitivity.
On my 25th birthday, the day that might have marked the end of my life… I found myself in New York City with a group of friends celebrating a paradigm shift, and as fate would have it, the first annual International Day of Happiness (founded by Jayme Illien).
The next year, 2014, I left my role as a writer at a makeup and skincare company and immediately founded Yes2Joy Paradigm Consulting.