I went consignment shopping with two of my dear friends last weekend and with Spring just around the corner, I bought these tennis shoes. As silly as it sounds, they make me positively joyful! The color reminds me of the burst of sweet nectar as you bite into a tangerine.
I’ve been craving a pop of color lately. Not just in my wardrobe, but in my life. It’s interesting because nothing is wrong; I’m grateful for so much. I even have a new grandbaby. But even with that, I’ve been feeling sort of dull, sluggish and empty. I can attribute my state of mind to the heavy energies we’re experiencing collectively, but I also take responsibility. I know energy follows thought, and if I want to feel better, I must think “better.” I must focus on what brings me joy.
Hence the new shoes. Okay, I’ve also received energy healing, danced and taken a sunny hike with my dog. The shoes are the cherry on the tangerine, so to speak.
Last Saturday, before the new shoes, another precious friend and I caught up. It had been about a week since I provided an intuitive reading for her. As a result of what she heard from Spirit, she took a deep dive inward and decided to make some significant shifts in the way she approaches her work life. Her new commitment to the team she manages, her bosses, and most importantly, to herself is “joy and happiness no matter what.” She inspires me so much! And now I have a new mantra.
It might be tempting to think of this idea of joy and happiness no matter what as spiritual bypassing. Trust me, that’s not what my friend and I have in mind. This is not pretending to be happy when we are not or avoiding a full range of emotions. It is also not refusing to see the suffering present in the world or even in our own lives.
The joy and happiness mantra refers to a state of being. When we are joyful from the inside out, it’s not that we don’t face our share of hardships or empathize with others’, we simply choose not to attach to suffering. And frankly, attaching to suffering does absolutely nothing to solve a problem. One thing joy can do, however, is expand our capacity to take positive action.
For me, choosing joy rather than suffering in the day-to-day sense looks like not sweating the small stuff, not reacting to other people’s moods, and letting go of the need to be right. It also includes taking time to notice and be grateful for the numerous gifts in my life. Choosing joy and happiness when I’m knocked down by life’s bigger challenges means that I rely on my spiritual toolkit to move me through the hard stuff one step at a time.
Another thing that’s helpful is to remember we are all so much more than human. We are, as the cliché goes, spiritual beings having a human experience. When we accept that our human life is just a tiny piece of our full spectrum of beingness, we can relax into joy.
I see joy as a habit to be cultivated like exercising for strength. It must be practiced regularly, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Way back in 2003, I read an article in O, The Oprah Magazine called “The Joy Diet” by Martha Beck. Oddly, I never forgot it. In the article, Beck advocates a life full of feasts, or turning the ordinary events of the day into celebrations by reveling in them. Like my quiet morning ritual of coffee, uplifting reading, meditation and journaling. The scent of the trees and the vast blue sky on an afternoon walk with my dog. Weekend shopping and cherished conversation with dear friends.
Or maybe stepping out into the bright sunshine in my new tangerine sneakers.