HOW TO FEEL YOUR JOY EVEN AT YOUR WORST. YOU CAN CHOOSE TO…
There are no 5 steps, 21 things to do or 10 things not to do. Human Being — try just ‘BEING’.
“I have drunken deep of joy. And I will taste no other wine tonight.” ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley
What is Joy? Where do you find it?
And when you find it how do you make it stick around? Should you?
How do you describe it? Can you?
Is it beyond words? Not all feelings are easily expressed in words. It’s like to know what sweetness is you must taste sugar.
IT’S EASIER TO LET OTHER PEOPLE FIGURE OUT YOUR LIFE.
Instead of asking what will spark joy in you, you let people tell you where to find your joy. Ads bombard you with what to buy to experience their construct of joy. Parents and schools tell you what to aspire for. At work you’re told what you must deliver to be appreciated.
Do you get a say? Or importantly, do you want to have a say? Most people don’t even realize there is that choice.
“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” ~ Steve Jobs
WHAT. DO. YOU. WANT?
You don’t listen very much… to you. The tiny still voice inside you doesn’t get the attention it deserves. You don’t hear it? It’s drowned by the loud distractions with which you choose to surround yourself. That still voice. It doesn’t go away.
It’s the lighthouse that shows you your way through dark waters. You just don’t know it yet. When a ship can’t spot the lighthouse, the lighthouse doesn’t forsake the ship. It booms a foghorn.
In life, a bellowing foghorn is your soul creating life-changing events to pull your attention back from things you’ve mistakenly given prime importance.
All the fancy clothes, shoes, purses, yachts, your C.V., the letters that follow your name M.A., PhD., President of Rotary Club, Achiever of the Year Award!
Are they life? Or only a part of it? Are they even a part of it? Or just a game we’ve created?
Have you noticed how when life tosses and throws you around; when you burn through crisis after crisis; when all you’ve built is lost; when all you believed makes no sense; when your life is a “mess”; when every piece of ‘something’ that you used to define you is stripped away; when your tears come with animal wails…
All that is left is you.
No qualifications, degrees, cars, houses — just you. It’s freeing. Then an amazing thing happens — you listen to the still, small voice.You despair. Rage. Rant. Yet there are moments when that voice speaks to you more clearly now than it ever did — and you listen.
Why? Because you have nothing else to distract you. You hear it now — even without trying.
Why? Because you’ve opened a back door to joy, a different entry point (more on this later).
“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk
LISTENING IS HARD, HARD WORK UNTIL IT GETS EASY
Call it intuition, quiet voice, still voice, whatever. It tells you, you are You — without all the ‘things’ and ‘labels’. That… it’s okay. They were never necessary.
The longer you sit with that stillness, the more natural your new companion feels. The less afraid of it you are, the more it grounds you. It gives you the courage to see yourself for who you are. To own your truth. It pushes you to ignore circumstances and welcome the lesson. It frees you from judgement and comparison so you express your life in ways unique to you.
You begin to live by a new script that flows from within you.
“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”~ RUMI
THINKING VOICE, STILL VOICE — WAIT WHAT?!
You don’t have any small voice within? Voices are for lunatics? No, my friend — you have two voices within you. A thinking voice. A still voice. Pause and consider.
You don’t speak your thoughts aloud, right? We’d all think you’re loony! So yes — you do have a thinking voice. And when you’re not thinking — try that sometime — there’s the ‘still’ voice.
It’s sedate. Guides you on the right choices — it’s detached, balanced and positive. Detached as in telling you the right thing to do for everyone involved — no self interest, no overriding emotion — just a decision or action that doesn’t involve harm.
You still can’t hear it? Sorry, you have to get past that thinking voice to get there. Your still voice lives in the sound of silence. “Oh I don’t talk that much at all”. “I’m really the tall, dark and silent kind”…Oh Yeah?!!
You may not talk a lot but all of us…think a lot! Too much thinking is…noise. Meditate or sit silent — create distance between you and your thinking. Put space between you and your interpretations of the world — get to the center of your ‘being’. As Lao Tzu says, “At the center of your being you have the answer — you know who you are and you know what you want.”
“When there is silence one finds the anchor of the universe within oneself” ~ Lao Tzu
And when you find anchor you live like you have no care.
YUP, I CAN’T STOP THE THINKING, NOW WHAT?
There is another way. You were given a heart for a reason — to feel.
Remember the crisis mode when you hit bottom? Somehow even through intense feelings you had moments of pure stillness? Of intuitive clarity? Aha! That’s your inadvertent back door access to the quiet voice — through feeling!
Our species has unconsciously decided that feeling has no place in our lives anymore. How many doctors empathize with you when you are ill? Where’s the bedside manner? How many employers try to make a termination as gentle as possible? Where’s compassion? How many bosses treat employees like human beings not machines on an assembly line? Where’s perspective?
Everything is done with a disclaimer, ‘“Hey, it’s not personal”. Nothing is anymore.
It’s as if we’ve collectively divorced our human hearts. We are afraid to feel — to avoid feeling pain, we’ve avoided feeling altogether.
Thinking is rational. It’s safer. There’s less at stake. Enough said. You can’t get to that silent place within you without conquering the ‘thinking’ mountain. It’s like in every story the hero must slay the huge dragon to get to the prize.
BACK DOOR ACCESS TO JOY
Enter — the ‘back door’, we talked of before. Feeling, is the secret back door into a space where you can hear your intuitive voice.
Like in the hero’s journey — the secret backroute to the top exists but he will never usually find out about that until he challenges the dragon, a cinematic fight ensues leaving you with a movie to remember!
Same thing — with life. So challenge the dragon — get silent — meditative in your focus — and eventually squash the noise that the constant-thinking-dragon creates.
Or then, there’s always the back door — the chance to open your heart — feeling. Yes, you must use your heart. Something you’ve forgotten how to do.
It’s like getting on a bike — you’ll be pedalling away quicker than a sneeze. Even if you’re getting back on a bike after years, it all comes right back. Yup. You’ve loved people, before you got all hard and crusty. You loved maybe your mom, dad, brother, sister, friend, classmate, old neighbour, a pet — someone.
So love again. Why? Because it SUCKS to watch your life from the sidelines. And you know it. You may get hurt. So?! Dust off. Move on. Do it again. Live.
Maybe you collected exotic currency, coins, stamps, feathers, horsehair, knit sweaters. I mean people will do strange things all because they love it. Yeah! A hobby — something you loved doing. Do it again. Act on something that uses your heart.
Just smile. Let someone ahead in a queue. Visit Turkey to find that one coin you’re missing in your numismatic collection. Be silly. Compliment and make someone’s day. Silently pay the cashier for the grocery haul of the next person in queue. Expect nothing in return for what you do.
“There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.” — Khalil Gibran
You’ve been thinking way too much. Now, reacquaint with your heart.
SMALL MOMENTS, BIG JOY
Many moons ago, you were in touch with your heart. In fact, you didn’t know another way to be. You squealed in delight running after yellow butterflies. Happily watched tadpoles wiggle in a monsoon puddle on a Sunday afternoon. You responded to that still quiet voice inside you, unbridled.
You jumped like a grasshopper. You spent hours tracing witches, fairies and ghosts in all shapes of cloud. You wondered why a snail had a shell to hide in and why you didn’t.
Oh, the wonder! When you become willing to return to it. You offer yourself to life. Life becomes an experiment.
“We have to listen to the child we once were, the child who still exists inside us. That child understands magic moments” ~ Paulo Coelho
We’ve forgotten how to experience life like a stroll in the park — you meet all kinds of people — some decent, some nice, some unpleasant, and some uncouth. You can always choose whom you are willing to experience within you.
When you remember to do this, you will leave unpleasant experiences behind and relish the fun parts of your stroll — it’s like a movie where you’re the star and the director!
But a movie is riveting only with a rich contrast of good and evil. It’s enjoyable because of cheerful upbeat scenes. And it’s memorable because of redemption and triumph over challenges. You, the director, help focus the story on a balance of the pleasant and unpleasant.
The happy. The comic. The frivolous. The sad. The setbacks. The resilience.
Hey Mr./ Ms. Director — pan in on what you want to experience, and then… pan out.
Too much is repetitive. Too little is unsatisfying. Observe the negative — watch and learn — move on. Don’t fester. Enjoy the pleasant — recharge — move on. Don’t obsess. Accept it all. Be in it all. Keep moving. And in ‘being’ so, joy becomes a way of expressing your journey.
“The most beautiful moments in life are moments when you are expressing your joy, not when you are seeking it.” ~ Sadhguru
In a world where ’10 steps to success’, ‘Lean Processes’ and ‘Ultimate Guides’ are king, you’d probably scoff at the simplicity of this.
To know your joy — OBSERVE your mind. Just that will QUIET IT, so you can BE OPEN to the wonder of life.
To feel your joy— DO things, TO SHARE, that wonder.
Must life shake you up to feel and know this?
“Joy is where wonder and gratitude meet.” ~ Aparna Sarwal