If you want more joy in your life then I would invite you to consider agreeing to being on this mystery trip called life rather than resisting it. Going with the flow is key. In this blog I hope to shine a light on how; you may enjoy the mystery, bring more joy into your life, offer possible areas of assistance if the place your are in now appears so far removed from joy because of your suffering, hurt and pain and share the teachings of other inspirational people who have inspired me to find Joy in all things at all times.
I am a work in progress. I’m only an expert on my own journey and what I offer is my experience, strength and hope so please take what you need and leave the rest. And of course leave your comments and feedback.
Over the Easter period, which I always find such a powerful time regardless of one’s Spiritual beliefs, I spent the day with a dear friend and our intention was to travel to the West Coast of Wales, heading towards St. David’s and St Non’s. We did manage to visit both of those places but what we hadn’t planned, on a conscious level and which was a gift, was the joy that such a trip could bring or where we may stop on the way and whom we may connect with on all levels. Our friendship is special to both of us and that in itself is a joy. For me it is a friendship which is unconditional because we both look after our own feelings, our own stories and what we believe is happening at any moment in time. So this clears a lot of unnecessary misunderstandings to start with. We are both happy to clear up our own garbage and trust that the other can clear theirs without us pointing it out. We often refer to our get togethers as ‘our church’. In the King James Version of the Bible Matthew 18:20 it says – “when two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” We certainly chuckled over that quote when returning home later that day we stopped at a cafe and waited in line to be seated. On reaching us the server look at us and said “A table for three.” We smiled at each other knowingly after she said “Oh, I mean two.” I think she was right – there were definitely three of us that day for sure. And Joy was alive the whole time.
Even before we got to our destinations we were willing and open to allow the joy to find us and be open to what might want to pop in. We decided to stop in the harbour village of Solva which lies on the north side of St Bride’s Bay. A beautiful picturesque spot which I had forgotten we would pass through. I realised as we went through the main street of this village that I had been there before and asked my friend if she was ready for a comfort break and a cuppa? I told her of a lovely cafe which was also an art gallery and wondered if she might like to go there? Lo and behold another acquaintance of mine happened to be staying with the owners of the establishment and our eyes light up at this most unlikely of reunions. As she lives in the south of England and was on a visit and whilst staying with the owners was helping out in the cafe that weekend!!! We got chatting and before long Raul Speeks the artist who is co-owner with his wife joined in the conversation. I remembered him instantly as I’d spoken to him briefly on my last visit two or three years ago. However this time – my friend and I were in a ‘go with the flow’ that day and we allowed time for the company we found. Raul is a wonderful joyful presence, an artist and a musician and his Cuban roots joyfully come through his whole beingness. At first he sat their quietly as we had our tea and enjoyed the sun through the cafe windows and glass roof and when he started to speak to us it was as if we were transported to his Cuban island. He smiled continually as he spoke of his art work, music and his homeland. He accompanied us as we took a tour of his gallery and I told him how much I enjoyed the combination of his music and his artwork as I felt they really complemented each other. I’ve included a copy of one of his pieces of art at the top of this blog. It’s called Red Hills part 3 of 3 and I think it really goes well with his rendition of a well known hymn called “Morning has broken”And of course the joy continued. There were an abundance of other joyful moments that day and maybe they will come up in future blogs. So let me move on now.
What can help bring more Joy into my life?
Sometimes when we are not sure of our inner Joy it can be helpful to allow the joy from the outside world to remind us. Often this can be through the delights of a new puppy, lambs gambolling in the field, the first snowdrop or the infectious laughter of those around us. Spending more time outdoors for those whom that is possible (and by that I don’t include those who say – “I don’t have time.” If you want time – you need to make it.) There is so much joy available if only we allow ourselves to be willing to let it touch us and inspire us. And nature does that so well. I’ve heard it said that if you want to be rich hang out with rich people and learn from them. Likewise I would say – If you want to be joyful – hang out with joyful people.
It’s been a privilege of mine to connect with Dr. David Hamilton, Scientist, Author and Speaker who loves to use science to inspire people. His workshops and books are truly inspirational and he’s a joyful presenter as well as insightful. Often when I think about Joy I think about my physical heart. And I’m sure that a joyful heart is a healthy heart and so I was interested to read a blog by Dr. David Hamilton last year entitled – How Dogs are Good for your Heart – he wrote “In only a week, he (his then newly acquired puppy Oscar) has brought so much love and joy into our home, as well as naughtiness! Two of my good shirts are now sporting teeth marks and holes.” When we are connected to our Joy we can see the happenings in a different way. He could have been angry with Oscar or indeed be bitter that his two good shirts had been damaged but the joy he experienced was far greater than a perceived loss.
I’ve discovered that one of the ‘tools’ that keep me more connected to joy – is to change my mind about how I am perceiving something if it takes me to any place that isn’t – Joy, Love or Peace. And if I’m giving my Power to another human being then I turn that around by reflecting and shining a light on my inner work or inventory – not theirs.
So where are you on the scale of joy at this very moment? Yes I do mean NOW!!! Why don’t you just stop reading, thinking or wondering and at this very moment, close your eyes and imagine a barometer or pie chart and see how much of you is connected to the essence of Joy. For some that will be easy because you are quite visual and for others it will appear that there is nothing so maybe you might be able to assess how much joy there is either on a scale of 1 – 10 or as percentages of a 100. I’ve yet to experience working with anyone who couldn’t identify some joy within then even if it was only miniscule. Some are even pleasantly surprised to find that they have more than they thought and their mood shifts instantly.
Taking time to focus on where Joy actually is in our lives can be very worthwhile. So if you are willing to play along with this exercise I would invite you to let the first thought that comes into your head be the answer. Don’t try to judge it, argue with it or dismiss it. Don’t be shamed or arrogant about the answer. Just let it be so and accept that the answer may be true or not. But for the sake of this exercise why not work with it being useful information right now – as long as you can let go of feelings or thoughts that might accompany it.
When I inwardly enquired/meditated on joy just before writing this piece the answer I received was “Joy is what you are, when you are not pretending to be you.” I just love it when insights come in like that. When from my truest place of enquiry an answer is sought and the answer comes through clear and strong. That in itself brings me to a place of joy. That sense of inner joy comes I’m imagining because of my acceptance of the answer without the need to instantly want to form an opinion of what the answer actually means. Just to hold the words as if they were a jeweled key that would unlock the treasure chest within. Because I sense the purity of the answer. And of course to each of us that particular answer would have a different meaning and that is exactly how it should be. And in asking the same question each of us may receive a different answer and each will be the truth we need to know at that moment.
For some the answer may not come instantly. So does this mean that we are less worthy than another to receive that information now? Of course not. In times like this I’m reminded of a wonderful poem by the German Poet Rainer Maria Rilke
“I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
And if you gain nothing more from this blog than the words of this poem then I truly believe it is the invitation to invite more joy into your life.
One of the keys to more Joy is Acceptance. Some people are confused about the word Acceptance. For some Acceptance means Approval and that can produce an inner and outer conflict, which can be anything from a thought form through to a declaration of war. For me Acceptance keeps me connected to my inner Joy. Connected to the serenity of my inner Presence. And it is from this place that I can take a step back or rise above to gain insight from what is the Truth of the situation rather than reacting to my quick snapshot, usually influenced by previous happenings, judgements, criticisms or fears of what is going on or what might happen next. Take a moment as Rilke’s poem suggests sitting with the question, to accept whatever is happening in front of you that is taking you away from inner joy – and love the enquiry as much as you would love an instant answer or solution. My experience of this is constant joy – albeit with old pain which when not acted upon eventually burns itself out.
I’M REALLY HURTING AND IN PAIN. DON’T TALK TO ME ABOUT JOY
For some of you reading this blog your journey so far to inner or outer joy has not been an easy one – so for you – maybe some form of recovery needs to take place. It doesn’t matter why the lack of inner joy feels disconnected – whether that came about because of some form of dysfunctionality within the family, school, peers, religion or one’s own thought processes. Some may not even be able to identify when or where that happened? Others may be able to pinpoint the exact moment yet prefer to continue to use forms of avoidance such as alcohol, drugs, work, gambling, sex or other forms of self harm and isolation, rather than choose to recover the connection to true inner joy. For some the loss of Joy comes from pushing down the events of the past in a way that they can not control and the repercussions of that action means it will come out sideways and create problems inappropriately – with the wrong people at the wrong time!!!! Yet for each of you I would be surprised if the spark of inner joy is not there albeit dull and hard to find at times. Some may consider seeing a therapist, accessing a rehab or treatment centre. Some might belong to a 12 step programme of which there are many, all of which derive from Alcoholics Anonymous and sometimes the less well-know ones that can certainly help with accessing your inner joy are Emotions Anonymous and Coda (Co-dependants Anonymous) both are excellent world-wide 12-step programmes with meeting places in the UK, that help people heal and lead healthy joyful lives. Others will have found a spiritual path that totally transformed their lives.
Wayne Dyer speaks of this in his book Your Sacred Self: Making the Decision to be Free where he writes: -
“My personal challenge became to rid myself of this addiction. I tried reading my way out of it. But I went back. I tried acupuncture, discussions with experts and herbal cures. But I went back. I was determined that I would no longer play around with this substance. But I went back. Then I had what I call a holy instant, which was for me a divine experience. At 4:05 on a January morning I was meditating. In the still, quiet of that meditation, the thought of never again using the substance became real. It was my first absolutely direct experience of God. I became ‘openhearted,” as Lao-tzu described…My entire inner screen of awareness became a bright luminescence as I heard a voice say, ‘You have tried everything else, why not try me.’ I have never in my life known such peace and certainty that God was within me and around me. I felt overwhelmed by the bliss I experienced….I have never been so certain of anything in my life as I was that morning. It felt like I truly understood the meaning of ‘Being openhearted, you will act royally. Being royal, you will attain the divine.’ I knew that my desire to reach for anything outside of myself would disappear from my life. No substance has ever given me this kind of ‘high.’ I listened to that voice, felt the presence of God and have not since experienced the slightest desire to go back to any substance. This is what I brought back from the inner silence. The ability to free myself from an insidious addiction and the absolute knowing that ‘this mind in you, which was also in Jesus Christ: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.’ I had attained that mind.”
Wayne has written many books and offers CD’s of his workshops and the two that come to mind to me right now with regards to being the Joy you were born to be are found within his books Change Your Thoughts Change your Life – Living the Wisdom of the Tao and Excuses be Gone. I referred earlier in this blog to Acceptance being a key to Joy whether it is accepting what is going on in the outer world or our inner world when the conflict is between Joy or Fear. In his book Wayne lists the 81 verses of the Tao and shares a short essay on each of them with the intention that each of us may experience this Joy – this Unnameable Presence. The Tao was his pathway to Freedom and Joy.
Lao Tzu is reputed to be the author of the Tao Te Ching otherwise known as “The Great Way” but there are many versions of this story and as he was believed to have lived in 6th Centenary BC we can visit such websites as http://www.s9.com/Biography/Lao-Tzu or we may need to go inward to find the answers to many questions about him or indeed the Tao. Yet that’s what the 81 verses of the Tao suggest we do. Currently there are estimated to be 20 million followers of the Tao worldwide. But like any philosophy, teachings religions I would suggest you take what fits with your inner joy and leave the rest……for now that is……….after all it is a joy to change your thoughts.
I feel drawn to share – The 69th Verse of the Tao which is:-
“there is a saying amongst soldiers:
I dare not make the first move but would rather play the guest;
I dare not advance an inch but would rather withdraw a foot.
This is called going forward without advancing,
pushing back without using weapons.
There is no greater misfortune than feeling “I have an enemy”;
For when “I” and “enemy” exist together there is no room left for my treasure.
Thus, when two opponents meet, the one without the enemy will surely triumph.
When armies are evenly matched, The one with compassion wins.”
When there is no inner or outer war there the treasure of our Joy, our Presence lies.
JOY IN EVERYTHING WE DO AT ALL TIMES
Yes, absolutely everything we do can hold the essence of Joy within it, whether it’s in our relationships, living one day at a time or in our careers. Everything, from the time of our conception to our passing from this life I believe can be joyful when we change our thoughts to that being so. Don’t you want to die Joyfully? I know I do.
In the video Smile by award winning film maker Nic Askew, the opening words spoken by Olubunmi Ogunyankin (Olu) are “It’s the last day of the world. Mmm!!! You have to enjoy your last day!!!” – This video is one of many of Nic’s selections under the heading of Soul Biographies. And interestingly this video arrived in my inbox the week I was writing this blog. Living every day as if it were your last is the theme and being grateful as each morning is breaking. I bet you’re smiling before the end of this short movie unless you’re determined not to?
Another favourite message of mine concerning Joy is attributed to a quote by Vivian Greene which is “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” I just love the sentiment of this message.
So often we delay joy being part of our lives through our excuses, justifications, fears, procrastinations, anger, non-forgiveness and the lack of appreciation for accepting what is – is exactly what is meant to be happening in our lives right now and it is from this place that we invite joy and the next steps that go with that. Whether that is for our spiritual growth or our outer life and who is to say that they are not one and the same. Pritam Roy is an Entrepreneur and Founder & CEO of Gomolo. He is a serial volunteer for TiE Mumbai and used the same quote in an article in the FirstPost Business Section. Being an Entrepreneur is often given a ‘bad’ label for many reasons but for me, some are the most inspirational and joyful people I know.
When asked 12 years ago when going back to study aged 50 at Ruskin College who inspired me and for that I also mean to live joyfully?’ – The answer was easy – it was Richard Branson of Virgin. Someone else I discovered much later who also struggles with dyslexia. I was impressed by him at a young age for the sheer joy he showed in being who he wanted to be. Not constricted or held back by any of the fears, worries, constraints that I as a young person experienced. I visualized meeting him one day and enjoying a simple conversation. However my imagination did go a bit wild when I visualised that the ideal place for this conversation would be in a hot-air balloon over the Himalayas. A girl can dream!!! And his quote below I believe expresses what I was mentioning at the beginning of my blog. Don’t over think it when you invite more joy into your life. Enjoy the simplicity of the answer that comes and allow the clarity of its message to unfold at its own pace and be willing to take the baby steps which are necessary to enable your joy to become a reality. And if necessary to sit with the question.
Of course there will be some who are reading this blog who will not need to invite more joy into their lives because they will have found that inner joy which is their constant Presence within. Yet for many of us it is still an ongoing journey. A journey to experience inner and outer Joy. So it is to you that this blog is written. And of course for those who have already found it we look forward to you sharing your experiences with us.
Life is a conversation – so let’s keep that conversation flowing. After all – Joy is just a Thought away. So why not let Joy be your middle name.
FOR NOW… I hear you, I see you, Namaste