A while ago, in my facebook group Awakening Wise Women, I ran a Joyfulness Challenge – possibly you joined in, or meant to ;-).
Joy is the highway to your soul. If you’re not clear on your purpose, if it seems your life right now isn’t making sense, if you can’t seem to quite capture your dreams, your vision, your calling… Find your joy!
When you’re feeling joy, you know you are in alignment with your soul.
Joy is not the same as fun, as we discovered during our exploration in the challenge this summer. Fun is extraverted, exuberant.
Joy is deeper, more layered and multi-faceted.
This week in the online zen course I’m teaching, we talked about happiness. Whenever I ask participants in my courses what happiness means to them, no one ever mentions their new car or exotic holiday.
No, they talk about experiences in nature, or moments with their family or loved ones. Very often, they describe a state of being that involves space, tranquillity, the feeling of everything being exactly right as it is.
Even in sadness and grief, there can be happiness. When we can allow our sadness to be there, to be o.k., to be just right – because it is there.
And so the source of our unhappiness is always to do with resisting what is. We perceive something in our lives, or ourselves, as not being as it should be. And there the suffering starts. Suffering is always caused by either attachment or resistance – things, our lives, we – need to be a certain way and when they’re not, there’s struggle.
Happiness lies in surrendering to what is, in being with what is, and, ultimately, being one with what is. Without it having to be anything other than it is. When we lose something or someone, grief is an adequate emotion. When we can admit to ourselves that there is loss, and grief, there is no struggle. We’re not adding judgment or a story to what simply is.
Here lies the key to happiness. The joy inside tears.
Zenmaster Thich Nhat Hanh says that the art of happiness is the same as the art of suffering. If we can acknowledge, allow, embrace and understand our pain, our grief, our tears, we suffer less because we are not adding judgment, resistance, or stories. In fact, we’re transforming suffering into compassion and joy.
The art of not being a fair weather friend to ourselves.
And when we can do this for ourselves, we can teach this to others. To not run away from pain, to not judge it, to not try and avoid it at all cost or make it go away quickly when it arrives. But instead to breathe and make space and drop the story. The emotion that comes with pain is correct, it is exactly the right emotion. Let it be. And find the joy inside.
p.s. Stevie Wonder wrote this beautiful song, Joy inside my tears. Listen to it here.