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Free Your Joy:

The 12 Keys to Sustainable Happiness

Bestselling author and creator of Joy School Lisa McCourt outlines her unique formula for sustainable happiness, offering a year's worth of activities, prompts, and techniques that raise your “joy setpoint” so you can cultivate authentic, lasting peace and fulfillment in your daily life.

Unprecedented global events have left many of us feeling depleted, depressed, isolated, and disconnected from many of the things that made us happy. Lisa McCourt, host of the Do Joy! podcast and founder of Joy School, helps people raise their joy setpoints regardless of what is happening around them.

Learning about joy is one thing, but it’s the doing that actually shifts your energy. McCourt offers a unique approach to joy and emotional wellness, outlining a year-long adventure in happiness that can be started on any day of the year. Joy is not an elusive fantasy to be chased; it is simply a skill to be learned, practiced, and mastered. McCourt takes readers, month by month, through the life-altering principles of vibration elevation that she has taught for 20 years through her Joy School.

Each of the 12 “keys” to experiencing sustainable, authentic joy builds sequentially upon the previous one to create a progressive shifting of the reader's inner landscape to one of joy and ease. As the inner landscape transforms, transformation of the external reality inevitably follows. McCourt offers weekly “homeplay” for the reader to take into their daily experience which, when followed, upgrades their thought patterns and default reactions into beneficial new habits of thought and behavior.

Upon completion of the final key, the reader is invited along the “spiral,” cycling through the keys again from their newly elevated joy setpoint. Our journey toward ever greater realms of joy and personal freedom is never concluded; we can spiral through the steps, year after year, always recalibrating our lives to ever more fulfilling levels.



As one who initially felt resistance to the hype around ideas of vibration and manifestation, I must admit that after reading Free Your Joy I am coming away with a completely different feeling about these universal laws. Lisa is a genuine advocate for joy, and after reading her book and getting to know her, I would in fact suggest she is a walking and talking embodiment of it and all she teaches. She is so loved and esteemed for all the light she brings to the world. From the first time I met her, I was quietly enraptured in her bright energy and just simply struck by the buoyant ambience she so effortlessly exudes. I went away from our first meeting so impacted by her presence that I wondered two things. Was she too good to be true? And if she was the real thing, how did she do it? How did she embody with such vibrancy something I am always looking for more of? Through our budding friendship I have been entirely persuaded that she is indeed the real thing, and by reading her book I now know how she has done it!

As Lisa so poignantly writes in the first key, “you can only heal you by loving you better.” All her keys exude this truth that it is the only way to truly locate your joy, your potential, your magic, and your wellbeing. Lisa became the force of joy that she is through her commitment to these keys and to learning how to love herself better. And she will help you to do the same.

Lisa’s reflections and comprehensive framework for manifesting joy in your heart, mind, and life comprise a wonderful and meticulous voyage into what I believe is the very fabric of the universe: love. It is all love. The joy-seeking, the practicing, the “kerklunks” (I love that word!), the observing, the insightful referencing and shout-outs to other writers and thinkers, the skill-developing, the manifesting, the flowing, the embracing, the vertical living. All of it! You might read through some of the pages and question whether what Lisa is suggesting is too good to be true as well. And in the same breath that I can verify Lisa and the sustained sparkle in her eyes is all genuine and true, so, too, is her map for sustainable happiness. It’s real.

The life you so deeply want is available to you, and the way toward it is through joy—the kind of sturdy and practical joy and self-love that shines through all the instructions in this book. Lisa answers all the how-to questions that might crop up as you read, with logical, thorough and inspired explanations. I agree wholeheartedly with her suggestion that you work at these ideas over the same generous period of time that you would give to any skill you want to develop. But it’s almost like she’s in your mind, ready for any questions or resistance that might emerge as you take her hand as your guide. She writes like she is walking right by your side, gently whispering that you can do this for your life, that you are worthy of the joy of your deepest dreams, that you are going to surprise yourself and will eventually make the good stuff happen.

Having been on my own self-love path of sorts for over ten years and having been on the lookout for any opportunity to garner more joy in recent ones, I have finished this book reminded of why I love this journey of homecoming so much, and with new perspectives on concepts that are also fundamental in my own life and work.

I never thought I would connect the dots like Lisa’s words have guided me to do. I never thought I would ever read about one’s vibration described in such a loving and integrative manner. But I’m now ready for joy to come alive for me in a new way. If you have picked this book up, then I imagine you are ready for that too.

S.C. Lourie, The Power of Mess


If you’re taking the time to read this preface (many readers habitually skip right to the meatier sections), then you and I are already simpatico. I would never skip the preface either. To me, it offers a tiny opportunity to know the author more deeply and knowing someone deeply is about my favorite thing ever. We are embarking on an adventure together, so I appreciate that you’d want to have this early chance to forge our connection. 

I wrote this book because I couldn’t not. I’ve been blessed with some extraordinary understandings, and I’m so bursting with these blessings that it physically hurts me to not share them. For several decades now, my existence has been organized around teaching the spiritual and energetic truths that transformed my life, because once your life has been transformed like this, there is simply no other use of your time that feels remotely meaningful.  

Like many of us, I did not come from circumstances optimal for conditioning a human toward a joyful existence. I was born in a deep vibration of shame, internalized messages of worthlessness, and created an adult life anchored in those beliefs. I knew how to make it all look pretty on the surface, as many of us do, but there was no authenticity or depth, and no awareness that it could be any different.

I started glimpsing the truths I’m about to reveal to you several decades ago. But it took years to integrate and solidify them, and even more years to begin teaching them—first through workshops in schools and other venues, and eventually through my live and online Joy School programs. I mention this because I’ve realized that a profound and lasting life transformation is not the kind of thing that happens in a weekend workshop, or from listening to that podcast, or reading that one book, or those twenty books for that matter. Each of these vehicles can provide valuable openings and frameworks, but as you’ll see when we begin our journey, they are only pointers revealing what is possible. Learning a thing isn’t living it, as convenient as that would be for us learning-lovers.

Learning joy is a path of doing. Walking a path means putting one foot in front of the other foot, again and again. I knew I must provide you with such a path because I’ve learned from experience that with the right guides and teachers, each step on that path moves you closer to a destination many barely believe is possible: an authentic, sustainable joyful existence. The path ahead of you requires action on your part, and it is out of that action that your life will be transformed. 

I’ve had countless cherished guides and teachers who have walked me down this path and you’ll see them woven throughout these pages, often in their own words. I owe these teachers—many of whom have become my closest friends—everything. It’s because they chose to devote themselves to raising awareness of these principles that I’ve been able to do the same. Thanks to their example and the generous sharing of their wisdom, I’ve created for myself a life of service that is joyful beyond anything I could have imagined. I encourage you to follow up with them via the Joy Kit available at LisaMcCourt.com. I created this online Joy Kit to give you easy access to all the light-bringers I mention in this book, as well as many other related resources. 

You may have heard, “The path is not a straight line; it’s a spiral.” Becoming a deeply joyful human doesn’t mean you won’t have any more bad days, but once you learn to ride the consciousness spiral upward, you’ll begin to appreciate even the challenging periods as ripe opportunities for exhilarating growth. Just in the past few years, I’ve faced devastating heartbreak with members of my family of origin, setbacks in helping my precious transgender daughter navigate her way in a world that is still horrifically cruel to ones as brave as she, and other difficulties that would seem to be thieves of joy. 

Using the tools you’re about to learn, I have transformed each of these challenges into invaluable opportunities for expansion and personal upleveling—to the extent that I’m truly, deeply thankful for them! I share this in case you’re feeling like joy is the exclusive domain of those problem-free people out there. (Let me know if you find one!)

To be clear, joy is not a thing I’m going to help you create, chase, or manifest. It’s already here. It is who you are, once you are free from all the obstructions that routinely block you from experiencing that truth. It’s the step-by-step identification and gentle removal of these obstructions that I’m offering you in our upcoming time together. 

As the obstructions are revealed and dismissed, your inner landscape is transformed, which then, in turn, transforms your outer landscape. In a recent meditation with my Joy Schoolers, lovely Sonya saw an image of a person encased in a suit of armor that resembled reptile scales, with the scales falling away, one by one, to reveal the tender, limitless human underneath. That’s how this journey feels.

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I wrote a children’s book called I Love You, Stinky Face. I wrote it because I was steeped in personal growth work at the time and starting to understand the crippling limitations inherent to unhealed trauma from buried beliefs of core unworthiness. I felt an overwhelming desire to save future precious beings from that egregiously common fate, so I wrote a book for parents to read to their offspring that I prayed would let these fresh humans feel, deep in their bones, how inherently lovable and valuable they are, no matter what. (The child in my belly when I wrote that book is my now-adult, beautiful and perfect transgender daughter. No coincidences in this wily Universe!)

Along with its nine sequels, it sold many millions of copies in the ensuing decades, and my fierce dedication to helping tender souls of all ages experience their wildly unlimited, joyful nature and inherent wonderfulness has only deepened since then. It’s fueled many books like the one in your hands, and many iterations of my workshops, radio shows and podcasts, and Joy School trainings ever since. 

I wrote this book because I know what it takes to create a life of peace and joy despite it all, and I desire that for you with every cell of my being. Darling adored reader, joy is nothing more than the comprehensive revelation of who you truly are. 

Shall we get started?


Praise for Free Your Joy

"Happy people don't just happen. They often struggle, suffer, and experience loss and defeat before finding authentic joy. With the right guidance and direction, however, they find their way out of the darkness and despair and back into the light. Then they can become a living, loving light for others who have lost their way. For millions of people across the world, Lisa McCourt is that light, and this book is that way. Weaving together personal anecdotes with insights from trusted guides and teachers, Free Your Joy provides a practical, step-by-step plan for removing any and all obstacles in your path. Pick up your personal copy of Free Your Joy, rediscover your innate wellbeing, and begin living the life you desire and deserve today!"

— Robert Mack, Positive Psychology Expert, Celebrity Happiness Coach, and author of Happiness From the Inside Out
“Simply brilliant. This book is a masterclass in creating the life you’ve always wanted. The true genius of it, though, is the way Lisa has distilled a lifetime of substantial spiritual teachings into 12 digestible keys. In the most approachable, playful, and practical ways imaginable, Lisa delivers on her promise to give you all the tools you need to step into a life of sustained joy and happiness. If you trust her, your life will be transformed, and how you see and interact with the world, yourself, and the people around you will be changed forever.”
— Thomas Lloyd Qualls, award-winning author of Happiness Is an Imaginary Line in the Sand
Free Your Joy has a clear message; Joy is our natural state. This book is like a complete workshop that clearly explains how to remove all the clouds that stand between you and the sun of your natural state. However, it isn’t just philosophy, the book is filled from beginning to end with exercises because, as Lisa puts it, learning Joy is a path of doing. What stands out the most is the kindness on each page, as the author is so genuine and understanding as a guide. It would be impossible not to change your energy and get closer to who you truly are after reading this.
— Chris Niebauer, author of No Self No Problem: How Neurobiology Is Catching Up to Buddhism
" . . . I never thought I would connect the dots like Lisa’s words have guided me to do. I never thought I would ever read about one’s vibration described in such a loving and integrative manner. But I’m now ready for joy to come alive for me in a new way. If you have picked this book up, then I imagine you are ready for that too."
— S.C. Lourie, The Power of Mess
“Lisa McCourt’s newest instruction manual for living a life of joy is simply incredible. It is so rich with meaningful content and actionable steps! The depth of work presented here is clearly going to change lives, mine included. Lisa’s wisdom is so heartfelt and accessible as she takes readers into a very deep dive into living what I could only imagine was God’s ultimate plan for human beings. I know it was a labor of love that must have cost her on many levels, and I’m so grateful for her dedication to elevating love and joy in the world!”
— Paul Boynton, bestselling author of Begin with Yes
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