Find Joy!

Kaspa writes: As I write this Satya is upstairs looking for a photo that perfectly illustrates ‘joy’ to put on the page of her new 31 Days of Joy course.

What is joy? I looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary and they trace its roots to the Latin gaudere, to rejoice.

One the precepts I took when I became ordained was ‘to rejoice’.

“To rejoice? What’s that all about?” I thought when I first saw it. By the time it came to the ceremony I still wasn’t sure. Or rather I knew that it was one of the precepts I would struggle with. There are all sorts of precepts around ethical behavior that are impossible to keep perfectly in this world – and yet it was this precept about joy that troubled me the most. Nonetheless, in the ceremony when I was asked if it was my intention to keep that precept or not, I said “It is.”

What was it that I was struggling with?

To be joyful, you have to be in touch with the world. To delight in spring-time you have to be able to notice the new growth and not be wrapped up in your own world. To rejoice in the company of others you have to let your guard down and trust. To be joyful you have to leave the security of your irrational beliefs about the world.

Even at the time of my ordination I held the world at a distance. The world was breaking through my delusions every now and again, otherwise it would have been impossible for me to go through with the ceremony, but I was still holding myself back.

Us humans develop strategies for dealing with pain. One of the most common strategies for dealing with emotional pain is to withdraw: we (unconsciously) reason that if we avoid getting close to people, for example, we’ll avoid the pain of being rejected…

Often these strategies make sense at the time. If you fall in love with someone and it’s not reciprocated, continually being around that person and trying to reel them in will end up in your being rejected over and over again. So you withdraw – it makes sense.

The danger is that we over use the strategy and it ends up making things worse. We stay withdrawn in order to avoid being rejected, but the very nature of our withdrawal puts people off spending time with us… the strategy to avoid rejection results in even more rejection. And so it goes on.

I don’t know what the roots of my own withdrawal were, and it almost doesn’t matter… what mattered was coming back into the world.

How did that happen? My experience of other people’s faith in two things: in me and in the world.

Enough people kept caring about me that my self-limiting beliefs had to be disrupted. There was evidence in the world that people actually liked me!

Other people’s faith in the world also made a big difference. The people around me trusted other people, they celebrated when things went well, and they were warm to each other even through the most difficult of times. They were able to rejoice in all sorts of things.

There are plenty of good things in the world, all worth celebrating.  When you start looking for them the world is full of things to rejoice in. When I started looking for them I started to find them.

What can you celebrate right now?

Would you like support finding your own joyous moments?

Satya found that photo she was looking for and has just launched the course. An essay to help you discover joy, four daily practices so you can start making a difference in your own life right now, and 31 daily emails helping you to find joy.

This is part of our 31 Days series, and has bendy pricing. You choose what to pay. Register here: 31 days of Joy.

Photo:  Some rights reserved by © 2006-2013 Pink Sherbet Photography

Comments & replies

11 thoughts on “Find Joy!

  1. Cheyne Smyly

    The universe works in interesting ways. I have consciously made the decision to experience emotion other than irritation or anger, and started a 365 day project. Our habits of emotion are so entrenched we forget to live in the moment and really experience what happens in and around us. My 365 day project requires a mindful and conscious decision to share on my blog an event, photo, or phrase that evokes an emotion.

    Your email, has reassured me that this is a good thing. Thank you. 🙂

    1. Kaspa Post author

      Thank’s Cheyne. Glad you have been reassured, and best of luck your experiment. I’m sure you will learn something, whatever happens!

  2. roselle

    Kaspa, thank you for this brave posting. I want to say that I felt you engaged with joy, even if you didn’t seem to to yourself, that time I met you at the NEBsangha retreat in Chagford.

    Yes, joy is so important. I make it a practice to name at least 3 moments of joy for which I’m grateful each night before sleep (I call it my ‘attitude of gratitude’); normally I find the list goes on and on :-).

    Roselle x

  3. Kaspa Post author

    Hi Roselle, that’s a very lovely comment thank you. Something of the Buddha’s light* shining through despite the best efforts of my ego. And of course life is more complicated that you can present in a blog post, there is a straight-forward narrative in what I posted but life rarely progresses in straight, uncomplicated, lines. Was lovely to meet you in person then, and I hope our paths cross again in a non-virtual way.
    We have a practice in which we list the things we have received, and are grateful for. I have to say I don’t do it everyday anymore – but it is powerful – perhaps I should take it up again.
    Love K

    *(Insert whatever name you give to the light here)

    1. Kaspa Post author

      Hi Katie – for me there is a definite link. Writing small stones takes you into the world and out of your head, and gratitude practice is about really paying attention to what you receive – both really good ways of encouraging joy.

  4. Raine Geoghegan


    I seem to connect with joy a lot when I’m with my grandchildren, Tilly – Rose and George.
    Bubbles of joy inside me, inside them, in the ether. I also experience deep joy when I’m
    sitting in my garden, just being and listening to the birds. This making space feels important.
    Being in the moment and not rushing or thinking too much. Sometimes peace and joy go hand
    in hand.


    1. Kaspa Post author

      Yes – some things in our lives do bring more joy than others – people we love, spending time in nature, both of these are good sources of joy for me 🙂

  5. Freya Pickard

    Loved this post Kaspa – the bit about trusting people and letting my guard down really spoke to me. Just about to do a month Without Words so I’ll catch up with your other posts on my return…

  6. JulesPaige

    Joy is listening to my grandson (now three) sing and amaze adults with the delightful humor of the ‘Peanut’ Song:

    Just imagine a three year old singing:

    A peanut sat on a railroad track
    It’s heart was all a flutter
    Around the bend
    Came number ten
    Toot-toot…..Peanut butter!

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