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 We stay withdrawn in order to avoid being rejected, but the very nature of our withdrawal puts people off spending time with us… the strategy to avoid rejection results in even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.