Image credit: http://everybodyhasabrain.com/the-five-remembrances/
Because of the simple fact that we are of the nature to grow old, have ill heath, and die – and because everyone and everything we cherish is of the nature to change – cultivating joy is imperative, if we have the desire to live a well-contented life. The consequences of cultivating joy is a life lived with intention, connection, and heart.
When the quality of joy is nourished and strengthened in the open field of our internal landscape, the ground on which we stand becomes a fertile place for other beneficial seeds to grow alongside of it. Seeds such as: patience, ease, understanding, compassion, empathy, kindness, gratitude, humility, and equanimity. When we water the seed of joy, these nearby companion seeds also get watered.
When our seed of joy is not well tended to, we are liable to go man overboard into the ocean of suffering when we find our self in the turbulent waters of: stress, upset, anger, jealousy, sorrow, a bad day, unpleasant encounters, or unfavorable conditions of any kind.
Indications – like a low-fuel light on the dash – that your seed of joy is under-nourished:
- On a regular basis, after engaging with the news, you feel overwhelmed, cynical, hopeless, deflated, and/or pissed off.
- You give more street cred to suffering than to joy, discounting those who you deem to be happy and doing well as being in denial of the “real” state of affairs.
- You feel affronted/mistreated by others in a variety of settings on a daily or regular basis.
- You continually sit in judgement of others, for a myriad of reasons; are constantly annoyed and disappointed by others; are caught in the comparison game, always measuring yourself up against others.
- Small things set you off on an inner or outer tirade of cynicism/frustration/impatience/anger/fight mode.
- You see the doom & gloom of situations most readily and have a negative spin on most people & places you encounter.
- You smile infrequently, if at all.
- You routinely feel exhausted and burnt out; depleted; spent.
We’re all familiar with the ways in which to care well for our physical health but what about our mental health? Mental health is just as important as our physical health. And cultivating joy is the best way I have found to nourish, bolster, and fertilize my mental health. Well balanced and well nurtured physical health + well balanced and well nurtured mental health = optimal well-being.
Fruits that develop from ongoingly and continually cultivating a strong seed of joy:
- Resilience. We’re better able to weather the turbulent seas of upset when they swell and not go man overboard into the ocean of suffering. We’re able to stay on the boat and navigate the waves.
- Energy. More joy = more energy. Joy is a fuel that can help propel us more sustainably in the direction we want to be going.
- Ease. As our seed of joy strengthens, so too does our ability to be at ease in a variety of settings, with a variety of different kinds of people.
- Patience. With more joy comes more patience, and a better ability to go with the flow.
- Optimism. Joy increases our capacity to be optimistic; to see and absorb the goodness, beauty, and wonders of life that exist around us in any given moment.
- Balance. Joy helps us to be well-grounded from moment to moment, even when the swells of upset kick up a ruckus.
- Understanding. Without a strong seed of joy, we have the tendency to judge others harshly and perpetuate feelings of disconnection. Joy allows us to cultivate the insight of interbeing and fosters understanding and connection.
- Kindness. As our joy grows so too does our ability and capacity for generating kindness. As we become more joyful, we become more kind and caring towards our self and others as a result.
We need the resource of joy to help us to hold and tend well to our own and the collective hardships that exist. Otherwise, it’s akin to trying to fill a bucket lined with cracks. It’s simply not going to work.
Joy is not trivial or trite or something to invest in “when we have the time.” Joy is not something nice to have “if we get around to it.” Joy is a crucial and vital quality to nourish and strengthen in our daily life, every day, if we have the desire to live a well-contented life.
There is no way to joy, joy is the way.
Practice well. Our world needs more joyful, well-contented people.