A case for Joy
Joy – the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation
The definition of joy implies action. “The emotion of great delight (not just regular delight) CAUSED by something exceptionally good or satisfying.” At my age, I’ve heard many times over the advice that one must “choose” happiness. The classic example of this is The Diary of Ann Frank. If anyone had reason to be despondent, she would lead a large pack. Happiness, a component of joy, is a choice.
Happiness gets trampled daily if you’ve not noticed. Our politics. Our religions. Our media. Our gossip. The overwhelming collectivity of communication sometimes appears negative beyond repair. How does one choose happiness when they’re surrounded by all these externals of negativity? On top of the macro of negativity, what about the micro? For instance, what if someone is constantly bombarded by negative statements, attacks, and skullduggery? How does one rise above this?
By choice, it would appear. Life gets tiresome when all that’s in front of you looms as potential dismay, sadness, anger, betrayal, cruelty, and a host of other negative players. Many, if not most, people look to find happiness in the very people who will eventually destroy that joy. Wise folk have said for millennia to look inward for happiness and joy with the oft-unspoken advice that others will not do it for you in the long run. For those who get to this point, often the trek stands out as a painful, arduous arrival to a place we should have acknowledged long ago.
I’m still not at the point where I walk away like Kwai Chang Caine from television show Kung Fu. I can do this physically, but mentally and emotionally I fight the battle in my head and my heart. I recognize this robs me of peace. I recognize I must find a way to suffer the slings and arrows of people who know me and those who don’t. The pickle is in the doing. When people load their shit on you, making the choice of joy becomes Mt. Everest with few provisions. Most often, we’re so bombarded by the negativity that we don’t recognize we’re leagues away from joy before we even deal with someone nasty.
The only tool which comes to mind to battle this onslaught is “now.” The power of being in the moment. The power of slipping out of our daydream (or nightmare as the case may be) and into the moment of truth. The bare, unadorned moment. As Eckhart Tolle said, “The Power of Now.” To get to now, I’ve discovered I must step out of everything and focus on something. At this moment its the sunshine outside my window. Or is it the green leaves on the palm fronds? Or is it the blue sky backdrop? None of these matter except that they each offer a way out of the mind-numbing war which rages in my head and heart. The fears which rise up. The anger that can simmer low enough to be nearly undetectable and high enough to boil over given the right (or wrong) conditions.
“Now” can be the lampshade. Something inanimate. Something to draw attention from my inner turmoils and out to a place where I can replace in my mind something better. How often do I practice this? Not often enough I can say with absolute certainty. Just stepping out of turmoil does not bring me to joy. In fact, the act does not necessarily get me out of negativity. Residual thoughts keep knocking at my “now” door, looking for a way in to kill the momentum. I’ve found that negativity thrives on itself. When negativity meets something positive, engulf and devour like a rabid wolf ensues.
I must find a way to fill my “now” moment with something of positive value. Positive thoughts. Goals. Dreams. Aspirations. Yes, as I’m writing this, I’m allowing myself to entertain the thought of being holed up in a mountain cottage, fire in the fireplace, hot chocolate by my recliner, laptop in my lap with snow swirling outside my huge bay window in a dance of pure peace and joy. I feel two things going here. One is excitement. Excitement that I may actually one day do this. I also feel the dogged attacks of negativity screaming I am saddled by life and circumstance and that I’ll never have the time nor the finances to achieve such a thing.
This is where more of us lose it. I’m leading that pack, unfortunately. I’ve come to realize just getting to the dream will not allow me to maintain joy. An action is required. A plan. Actual movement in the direction of achieving the goal. Something to work for. Something to believe in. Something to help me maintain an inner peace and joy in my “now.”
Connecting the dots internally will now be my focus. I’ve got to learn to choose happiness, happiness within me. Happiness within my life. Happiness within my reach. All captured in the moment of “now.” Maintaining this will be the challenge. This is contrary to a life pattern of constantly fighting back negativity. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my crazy ex-wife, confronting negativity only drags me into the cesspool. Walking away, as Kwai Chang, truly becomes the only effective route.
The next step is to not only achieve now moments but to put into play and into thought and into practice that each task I accomplish each day brings me one step closer to my dreams and aspirations. When I look at completing a project as a “now moment(s)” action step to my dreams and aspirations, joy may become a component of my working day. I’ve got a lot of work to do.
Practice. Practice. Practice….
look at your hand
ask yourself why
why is he requesting I look at my hand
what were you thinking about before you looked
do you feel a distance from those thoughts
even if only a small distance
our heads stay stuffed with thoughts
thoughts triggered and placed by others
thoughts triggered and placed by ourselves
the monkey chatter in our heads drowns out most everything else
until we take action
until we give ourselves an option
escape from unreality
look at your hand
your hand is real
your thoughts, all 60,000 of them per day
all 42 thoughts per minute
almost one thought per second
call you back to their cacophony
a siren call we live with every day
look at your hand
seize the second
seize the minute
reign in your thoughts and focus
speed holds not your answer
consciousness beyond the noise of our minds
look at your hand
look out your window
look at your sky
feel who you are
feel who you aspire to be
make the choice of joy
make the choice to put action to “you”