Release Your Inner Champion for a Joyful New Year


Champion Mindset:  Champions can turn a disempowering emotion into an empowering emotion at will.

As a coach, I help people reach peak performance in golf and life.  Every now and then, however, I have to coach myself.  Such was the case several years ago around the Christmas season.

While many enjoy family gatherings, there are many like me who don’t have much family.  The holidays become a time of battling rather than rejoicing.  I made a decision I was not going to go through one more Christmas in a state of depression.  I didn’t know how it was going to happen other than I set my mind to change my emotional state.

I knew that we create suffering when we focus on what we don’t want, instead of what we do want.  Knowing that joy is the highest positive emotion there is, I set out to move into joy.  But how?  I began with a clear intention.  You can’t hit a target unless you can clearly see it.

That’s when I met Flame.  He was this cute stuffed pink Flamingo I purchased as a gift. I put him in the passenger seat of my car.  While driving home, I stopped at a red light. The driver in the car next to me started honking. Turning to see what all the commotion was about, the driver was laughing hysterically, pointing to Flame and offering a thumbs up.

I joined him in the laughter and drove on.  The thought hit me:  I just produced joy.  Stopping at the grocery store, it happened again. A woman pointed Flame out to her young daughter and they both broke out in a big smile.  I asked them, “Would you like to meet Flame?” We took a picture together. Flame and I produced more joy.

“I wonder what would happen if I took Flame into the grocery store?” I put him in the shopping cart and in we went!

Women started rushing up to me, exclaiming, “He’s so cute!  Where did you get him?  I’m in love!”  I took more pictures of beaming faces, and shared them.  Then I made videos. Everywhere we went, we produced joy—in the bank, on the beach, at the gas station.  One homeless man said, “You made my day!”

I reflected on the nature of joy.  It is spontaneous, relational, and the result of connecting heart to heart, without walls.  It is produced in the moment—and happens when you get outside the atmosphere of your own inner focus.  It is outward focused, fresh, new—and cute!

After producing joy for the entire month of December, I realized I had just cured my depression and created a whole new state of being—one of joy.  “Now if I can stay in joy for an entire month, why not a year? If for a year, why not just stay in joy for a lifetime!”  For the past three years, I have remained in joy.  Yes, I’ve had ups and downs, but joy is my emotional home.  When you leave home, you know how to return to it.  You don’t find it.  You return to it.  Joy belongs to you. It is your emotional birthright.

As you embark upon your new year, make a decision to be a joy-maker—to produce it and dwell in it.  Remember, the quality of your emotional state is the quality of your life.  Not your golf score, not your bank account—your emotional state.  Join me in joy in 2019!

Veronica Karaman is a peak performance coach and author of The Champion’s Way: Core Foundations for Achieving Peak Performance in Sports and Life.

Visit   Contact Veronica at



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *