Sometimes we ask ourselves: how to find joy in the midst of the suffering that life often implies? There are some ways to experience moments of joy every day with little effort.
Cultivating joy is a more spiritual practice than our society has led us to believe (which used to criticize “joyous life” women). It is honoring a part of what is human that we have. However, to do so, a point of frivolity and lightness is necessary, we must be able to let go of Judeo-Christian morality and the standards of happiness that are far from the natural and that prioritize having in front of allowing oneself to be what one is, without more. Cultivating joy is playing with life like the child who lives in the present, focused on the here and now. It is celebrating the mere act of sharing generously.
THE 7 PILLARS OF JOY
But sometimes we ask ourselves: how to find inner joy in the midst of the suffering that living often implies? This is the question that Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama answer in The Book of Joy, reflecting on how to cultivate joy. According to them the pillars of joy are: perspective, humility, humor, acceptance, gratitude, forgiveness, compassion and thinking about others.
- 1. Perspective. The perspective brings us closer to joy by expanding our vision anchored in the “I” to connect with a “we” that goes beyond personalities.
- 2. Humility. Humility leads us to accept our vulnerability and limitations, and reminds us that we need each other. By becoming aware of this interdependence, we can celebrate union with those around us.
- 3. Humor. Humor helps us not to take things so seriously, to laugh at ourselves and to make ourselves equal by getting off the pedestal. It is very different from irony, which is usually full of aggressiveness and puts us above.
- 4. Acceptance. Acceptance leads us to say yes to life as it is, both in pain and in pleasure. And also, to develop sufficient and necessary flexibility to carry out changes inherent in life itself and that are necessary to be able to adapt to the reality in which we live.
- 5. Sorry. Forgiveness implies always choosing to react peacefully to attacks and not forgetting the humanity of each person. This does not imply that grievances are not answered clearly and firmly.
- 6. Gratitude. Gratitude helps us acknowledge the blessings we have received instead of focusing on the hurts and burdens we carry. By thanking everything received, we can share the gifts and goods obtained.
- 7. Compassion. Compassion literally means “to suffer with”, that is, when we care about the well-being of others, our joy is awakened. Both generosity and compassion are at the core of every human being and contribute to making life joyful and meaningful. Because to receive, you have to give.
3 WAYS TO PROMOTE JOY
It is said that there was a Sufi mystic who was always cheerful and laughing. His whole being was celebration. He was about to die, but he was still enjoying himself and laughing happily. A young man approached him to ask:
“How can you remain cheerful when you are about to die?”
“Very simple,” the old man replied. When I was 17, I was very unhappy. My teacher was 70 years old and he was sitting under a tree laughing for no apparent reason. He laughed out loud and I asked him what was wrong with him, if he had lost his mind. And he answered me: «There was a time when I was sad like you. Then I realized that I was the one who was choosing. Since then, every morning when I get up, the first thing I do is decide: what do you prefer: misery or joy? What do you choose today? And I always choose joy ».
- 1. Laugh
Humor movies, jokes, or a video of gags can heal you. Laughter has become science and therapy for its physical and mental benefits: it raises endorphins, reduces stress, blood pressure and pain, strengthens immunity, and relaxes muscles. Do you remember the joy you felt after an afternoon of laughter? If not, do this practice: sit quietly and create a laugh within you that spreads from the belly to the whole body. Let the laugh emerge from the silence and laugh for ten minutes straight. Then lie face down on the floor. Connect with the energy of the earth and lose yourself in this feeling.
- 2. Dance
It is a simple way to connect with joy and release tension. Music is decisive to achieve this, since it floods the body in any place and condition. Choose songs that get your hips moving – Brazilian music or African dance can make it easier. Try to let go of control and forget about taking steps, whether you do it right or wrong. Give yourself permission to jump and jump.
- 3. play
What activity awakens your joy: singing, playing the piano, basketball, cooking, pottery, drawing…? Spend at least one hour a week with the firm intention of connecting with this feeling of enjoyment, without looking for a performance or result.