As I sit cozily in a room of windows, the mountain vista has disappeared in the clouds that are emptying their contents. This is how I imagined monsoon to be and dreaded the possibility of feeling trapped. Not only is every day different but the sky changes often multiple times a day. Times could be delightfully sunny, then blankets of clouds show up from nowhere, or rain, or fog at the tip of your nose then back to sun. It’s very alive and beautiful to be part of. The only thing you can be certain of is that change will come. You just don’t know when. Quite like life itself.
So, how do you play your joy card? Just the question makes me smile. “Hmm. How do I play my joy card?” Often at the very best, we try to be kind, do the right things, consider others and manage our stress. With all those cards in your hand, don’t forget that the joy card is the most valuable in the deck. It’s like medicine that can not only heal broken or imbalanced components in your own life but will affect others around you. Joy comes naturally when we are connected to the conditions of our gratitude. Like the people and circumstance that make us smile, thinking of those who love us, having a warm bed to sleep in, food to eat, a body without pain, having access to the wondrous life force of nature or the animal kingdom. I could go on forever. Most of these things exist regardless of the challenges we face. When we take time to remember them we’re better equipped to manage whatever is on our plate.
I’ve been doing an online course through Tushita with Venerable Amy Miller who currently lives in Philadelphia. The course is called The Path of Joy, with two juicy sessions a day for five days. The content is based on The Book of Joy, written by HH Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. When two people with a life deeply rooted in suffering write a book about joy, it has my full attention. This course has been such a gift to be reminded to get intimate with our joy.
Of the four fundamental emotions, (fear, anger, sadness and joy) only one is positive. Yet this one emotion can enable us to manage the other three with ease and anchor us in the clear true nature we were born with. Creating a practice to build into our day, whether through our five senses, a little laughter, contentment, wonder or rejoicing for other’s happiness will define a good life regardless of circumstance.
We are undeniably interconnected. When my joy is not my joy but our joy, and your joy is also my joy, this is empowering. This is a life of purpose and presence. We may not be able to change a lot of circumstances in life but we can change our perspectives. Neuroscience has shown that people that have been taught to see life through I and Me are more likely to experience depression that those that gravitate to Us and We. Amy Miller talked about her own experience with depression before she became a nun. She discovered that volunteering or partaking in acts of kindness towards others helped her connect to a place of curiosity, purpose, joy and ended her depression.