I think joy is more than a choice; it’s the current flowing beneath everything. The choice is really whether to tap into joy and connect, or to remain disconnected (the former is usually a conscious choice, while the latter is usually an unconscious one). Here are four simple ways we can embody the spirit of joy in everyday life on earth, whether or not the choice to dwell there is readily accessible.
“Joy is the sound of love, the color of gratitude, and the song of hope.” — Mary Davis
As all emotions guide us into more conscious territory, if we follow them there, so too can the spirit of joy lead us to be truer expressions of all that’s good in the world, and possible for the world.
Not just an emotion, though: I’ve come to understand joy as something more than I can name (though I tried to describe it here). While I perceive happiness to be a particularly human experience, I see joy as containing a “higher” quality; for me, it’s a spiritual currency, in the world but not from it. It’s always floating around, in essence, and when we humans are able to tap into its reservoir, we understand what it feels like, even if there are no sufficient words to describe it.Joy is the internal compass that's ever guiding us back home. Click To Tweet
Happiness and joy are, more often than not, difficult to separate. As I know them, they like to coexist, playing off of each other. We may or may not be conscious enough to choose happy perspectives, but there’s always joy in consciousness. Joy is powerful like that. Again, it’s hard to explain, and it’s probably better not to try to explain away (I think I’ll just start confusing us all).
If you’ve had experiences of understanding the gentle power of joy—the spirit of joy, if you will—I hope you also recognize your power to have more of those experiences, on purpose. In any case, here are four cues to help you honor your human capacity to embody the spirit of joy, even on the toughest days.
4 Mindful Practices to Manifest the Spirit of Joy in Everyday Life on Earth
1. Instead of reaching for what feels impossible, reach for the closest higher feeling-thought.
We’re not always capable of reaching joy if we’re so out of touch with who we really are, in a spiritual sense. Though it’s not necessarily possible to leapfrog from grief to joy, we can always get to joy if we move “up the ladder” one rung at a time.
Sometimes, the simple encouragement to “just think positively” isn’t appropriate or sufficient help. It’s good news that we don’t need to jump from “not okay” to “okay” in one swift movement; we can journey there.
Joy is always there; we are the ones who need to get into the right “state” to allow it, to hear it, and to feel it. If a situation isn’t joyous, the invisible current of joy isn’t really what’s missing; part of us has been forgotten, so to speak, and it’s good news again that if we’ve forgotten, we can remember.The closer you get to joy, the closer to home you are. Click To Tweet
If joy feels unreachable, reach for something that feels slightly better than what you’re feeling right now. Worry feels better than grief, pessimism feels better than blame, and hopefulness feels better than disappointment. You will know what feels better when you sit with it.
Sit with what feels better until you can move up one more “rung.”
2. Prioritize healing in any form: stress-relief, self-care, creative expression, etc.
Make space in your life to just be, to relax, to be still, to unwind, and to fill yourself back. There’s beauty in simply being, and not doing. We need to relax, and that could mean something totally different for you than it does for me. Whatever speaks peace to you, make sure you communicate with it on a consistent basis.
We all need a reminder now and then to take a deep breath, unplug, recharge, and realign with our most natural expressions of joy—with what feels good to us, in plain words. Filling yourself back up might mean expressing yourself through some form of art, or taking time to soak in a bath. Forgiving yourself is a preference for healing over the need to stay in suffering.
Joy seems to come most easily in those moments when I allow myself to just be and experience being alive, without restraint, judgment, expectation, or distraction.Healing is proof that joy remains, even where tragedy has been. Click To Tweet
Healing is like the little flower that grows through the cracks in concrete. Make space in your life for the little flowers that make the cracks more bearable.
3. Understand yourself as the witness to what happens.
Here’s a passage from the book, How Can I Help? that offers a practical image to remind us that we needn’t identify with each thought just because it happens to occur:
Our thoughts are always happening… And they are all constantly calling for our attention: “Think of me.” “Notice me.” “Attend to me.” As each thought passes, either we attend to it or we don’t. While we can’t stop the thoughts themselves, we can stop our awareness from being snared by each one. If you are standing by a river and a leaf floats by, you have a choice of following the leaf with your eye or keeping your attention fixed in front of you. The leaf floats out of your line of vision. Another leaf enters… and floats by.
But as we stand on the bank of the river and the leaves float by, there is no confusion as to whether or not we are the leaves. Similarly, it turns out that there is a place in our minds from which we can watch our own mental images go by. We aren’t our thoughts any more than we are the leaves.
There’s a spacious quality to this awareness, and it leaves space for joy to enter behind the scenes, beneath the thoughts. There’s openness here, insight and inspiration. We are “in spirit;” it feels like melting into the spirit of joy. All is well here; what a relief that we’re not our thoughts.You're more closely related to the stillness beneath the mental noise; the joy behind the pain. Click To Tweet
4. Trade “seeking more” for sinking into this moment.
As Brené Brown notes, “Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk missing out when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.”
Take a genuine interest in the details of life as it’s being expressed right here and now. Do you realize that you don’t really “have a life,” but that you are life? Seek out fellow expressions of life in this moment, and just pay attention. Appreciation comes from paying attention, and joy comes from appreciation.Pay attention—so much so that appreciation comes naturally to you. Click To Tweet
Take an interest in all the subtle ways you can bring joy to the surface here, embracing the spirit of joy in this place, instead of waiting for it to embrace you at some special future date. Life doesn’t need to look like a miracle to be a miracle.
How you live right now is your most powerful point of attraction; what you do now always matters when it comes to manifesting the kind of experience you want. Contemplate what a miracle it is to be alive here and now, and life will begin to feel like a miracle. The more you do that, the more often life feels like a miracle.
Instead of seeking something else somewhere else, seek to manifest more joyful experiences here. This is the place to live, and Now is the time.
Please share your thoughts, practices that support your connection to joy, and any hopeful or inspiring stories with me in the comments.
Share this message, and inspire someone else to embody and energize the qualities of joy today, in any ways that they can.
If light is what you seek, it’s most helpful to first recognize the light that’s already in you.