A couple weeks ago, I challenged all of you to look for joy throughout your day. How is it going? Many of you may have experienced that when you focus on something like this, it seems to pop up for you all over the place. I have received multiple texts from friends and posts on my Facebook page with pictures of joy. In each instance, I’ve taken a pause and thought “how much joy am I feeling right now?” Most of the time I was wrapped up in the day to day, not particularly joyful, but when the pictures reminded me of joy, my mood was instantly elevated.
I started reading a new book appropriately called “The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World”. In the book co-author Douglas Carlton Abrams sits down with two of the most influential spiritual leaders of our time, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and talks to them about finding joy in a world where there is so much suffering. The book is a fascinating read and you can feel the mutual respect these two leaders have for each other. A concept that comes up often in the book is the difference between joy and happiness.
“Joy”, as the Archbishop said during the week, “is much bigger than happiness. While happiness is often seen as being dependent on external circumstances, joy is not.” This state of mind – and heart - is much closer to both the Dalai Lama’s and the Archbishop’s understanding of what animates our lives and what ultimately leads to a life of satisfaction and meaning.
A little later in the book, the Archbishop gives a description that I think we can all relate to:
Joy subsumes happiness. Joy is the far greater thing. Think of a mother who is going to give birth. Almost all of us want to escape pain. And mothers know that they are going to have pain, the great pain of giving birth. But they accept it. And even after the most painful labor, once the baby is out, you can’t measure the mother’s joy. It is one of those incredible things that joy can come so quickly after suffering.
The book’s wisdom is so simple, it will make you wonder why we often make finding joy in our own lives so complicated. As the spiritual leaders explain in the book, joy is a state of mind. Even on the days when you feel joy has abandoned you, if you can gather yourself to do something that will bring joy to one person, you will start to shift the tide. You will feel that joyful spark within yourself. It may sound cliché but the more joy you give the more joy comes back to you. Don’t believe me? Try it and see what happens, you’re bound to be more joyful then when you started.
I find so much joy in good conversations! When’s the last time you had a really good conversation about something that mattered? Give yourself the gift of a good conversation this week, dive beyond the surface of the busy day to day and talk about something more. Not sure how to get started? Direct message or email me at balancedheartcoaching.com and we’ll set up time this week to talk.
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.