Finding Joy in Hard Times

It is easy to find joy during times in our life when everything appears to be in place. We find joy in the lazy Sundays before the yard work for the season takes over. Finding joy is easy when we are sipping drinks on the beach enjoying a deserved vacation. The simple joy of being around young children who find pleasure in just being alive is packed with joy.

What about when life is hard?

How do we find joy during the painful seasons of life? When the daily grind overcomes every corner of our life. The chores are endless. Or our aging parents need constant care. Perhaps our lives are full of the demands of school age children and we have little self care time. The chronic pain that many live with makes finding joy nearly impossible.

Looking for moment of joy

After my last hip surgery, the complications have seemed to be endless. Infections, blood clots, multiple visits to the ER seem to have taken over my life. Constant doctor appointments and conversation about my pain is exhausting.

Until I chose joy.

There are always moments of joy. Waking up to the sound of a spring bird is joy. Watching as the trees begin to bloom is joy. Smelling the first cut grass of the season is joy. Carefully nurturing the garden seedlings is joy. Laying your hands in sourdough bread dough is joy. Tasting the fruits of your labor slathered in butter is joy.

We are going to be okay

Looking back at life, there are countless times when it is easy to see that indeed we did end up okay. When we are in the vortex of struggles it is nearly impossible to see it, but I do believe it is there.

We will be okay. I will be okay. You will be okay.

Gratitude = Joy

It’s not joy that makes us grateful, it’s gratitude that makes us joyful.

Brené Brown

Think about that. So often we misunderstand that if we had all the things and our life is packed with goodness, we would then be grateful.

Actually it is not that way.

I have read and even taken a course with Brené Brown and yet I still continue to learn and soak in more every time I hear her speak.

Last night I was watching a talk she gave to teachers and other leaders. She was describing what happens when we think that we cannot be happy with what we have and we are constantly seeking joy through external things. We have all heard “when I take that vacation” or “if I could have that ____”, then my life would be good. This is called scarcity thinking. Scarcity thinning is when we think what we have is not enough or what we have will be taken from us.

Huh.

Years ago I had that mindset. Thankfully through the work I’ve done I no longer have that reaching for something. If a moment sneaks up on me and I do start to feel that what I have isn’t enough, I just have to go to my office and grab one of EIGHTEEN years worth of gratitude journals to see that my life is really quite full.

For some a gratitude journal feels daunting. That’s okay. There are countless ways to cultivate a genuine gratitude practice. Here are some great ideas:

  • pause before eating to recognize all that took place to bring you that plate of food
  • step outside and look at the sky and just breathe for two to three minutes
  • look at a stranger through the eyes of peace
  • say thank you throughout the day as doors get opened, people say hello, words are exchanged
  • smile more
  • before you begin your busy day sit for five minutes and gaze around your space and not see the tasks undone, but see instead your roof, your furniture, your safety
  • exchange gratitudes of the day with your family or friends before eating

Research shows that with a genuine gratitude practice, we can shift from scarcity thinking to joy. Imagine your life shifting from disappointment to deep appreciation. Think about how your relationships and business could flourish with an attitude of enough.

More than enough.

Follow me for more goodness!

The Joy

I want to know if you can be with joy, 

mine or your own, 

if you can dance with wildness

and let ecstasy fill you to the tips of your

fingers and toes

without cautioning us

to be careful, 

to be realistic, 

to remember the limitation of being human.

This week on the mat (or in the chair) we will be looking at joy and the choice we have to feel the smallest and greatest moments of joy in life without cautioning us to be realistic or careful or limited. To actually FEEL the joy that is within and who we are.  To say yes to the moments in life that bring complete joy.

Are you paying attention to joy? Tell me about a moment of joy in your life.

The moments of joy that stop you and pull you from the daily tasks that have become mundane and automatic.  Those moments that fill you with ecstasy and consume your entire being.

“…..Moments of mystical union can tempt us to spend our lives searching for those peak experiences and leave us unable or willing to receive the same joy where it is offered in the simpler experiences…” (Oriah Mountain Dreamer)

Joy finds us in the moments of elation when we feel a connection; to another, to ourselves, to the world and to the greater Mystery of life.  When we touch that part of ourselves that brings us directly into the face of our purpose.

And yet, as humans we so often deny our joy.  Our lives have so accustomed to feeling pain in the form of disappointments, resentments and past hurts.  We have lost the connection to the inner joy that is who we are. And what is our divine birthright.

For me, I want to cultivate and grow a deeper sense of joy in my life.  If it comes in the beauty of the sunrise or the sensation of another person’s touch, I don’t want to miss a second of joy.  I want to savor the moments of joy and fully embrace the pleasures of being alive.

I also know for me one source of  deep joy is found in my work.  Somehow we have been taught that to have too much of sense of greatness we will not have the concept of humility.  I disagree.  I choose to not diminish my abilities and my gifts.  I refuse to shrink back again.  I refuse to play small.

Small and joy do not coincide.

Sometimes we find that we expect too little joy in life and we settle for less.  In doing this, our soul is stifled.  Our soul becomes submerged in the litany of excuses that make up reasons as to why we can’t, or shouldn’t.

But life is so incredibly short.  And ultimately joy is a choice.

So tell me about a joy in your life.  Maybe one that came unexpectedly. A moment that you did not know was coming. The joy that caught you by surprise.

This is the work of the soul.  To find those inner caverns of ourselves and be willing to seek how we fit into the world.  It is searching to find that which we are made for and to say yes to joy.