“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”
It seems all too common to me that we forget to turn toward joy. We tend to focus on what’s wrong, how bad we’re feeling, and the things that other people aren’t doing to meet our expectations—and we forget to turn toward joy.
For some reason, it’s easy to take joy for granted. It’s always here. If you look for it, you will always find a distinctive peace or aliveness at the heart of every moment.
But we miss it.
How We Miss Joy
We’re busy worrying about everything under the sun that we can’t control anyway. And we’re stuck in our heads, thinking about our own troubles, and spending way too much energy trying to solve problems that can’t be solved by thinking about them.
I recently had a heartfelt conversation with someone who told me with great heaviness that she had been suffering a good part of her life. She knows sadness…it’s been a constant companion.
We talked about ways to address the painful feelings and how to be compassionate when things become rocky.
Then it dawned on me—what about joy? The difficulties had become a magnet for her attention and had congealed into a disappointing life story. But there must be joy somewhere.
Then I learned about the joy she experiences seeing her children grow up and the charge she feels when her garden is flourishing.
And we looked at even the times of sadness to see if something else was present. Shedding the story of what happened and the history of neglect, we discovered a freshness right here that isn’t touched by any of that.
It’s in the vibrancy of the breath and the deep sense of being at peace that’s here once the mind stops diverting your attention. It’s the knowing that no matter what events are happening, there’s presence and stillness and an unfathomable sense of acceptance.
How to Turn Toward Joy
I have spent thousands of moments studying my experience. And I’ve found that, without exception, it’s always possible to turn toward joy. I don’t necessarily find it in the situations that occur. It’s not in my memories, because if I experience joy from a memory, I’m experiencing it right now. And I definitely don’t find it in my thoughts.
So where to turn to find joy?
- First relax your attention away from any thoughts—and I mean all of them—and focus on the breath as it moves in and out. Already you’ll notice a peaceful shift.
- Then relax away from the breath and expand into presence.
There’s a sweetness here that you might not have ever noticed before.
You’re not lost in any stories. You’re not concerned with how you look or worried about things you have to do. Although you may feel energy in your body, it doesn’t hold any significance.
Now you’re primed for joy, the joy that bubbles up naturally, the soft smile of just being. The mind-blowing amazement that anything exists that makes you dissolve into gratitude.
And while you’re at it, don’t just turn toward joy. Turn toward peace…happiness…expansion…tenderness…and appreciation.
The Sacred Choice
You can certainly feed your personal suffering and embellish on the worrisome thoughts that grab your attention. Maybe that is what you are most familiar with.
But you have a choice. And that choice is to turn toward joy. Right now in this moment and every moment.
What do you choose?
Any comments? What happens when you turn toward joy? I’d love to hear…
PS: Please check out downloadable Guided Meditations for Wholeness, Clarity, and Freedom. All 3 volumes are now at a low introductory price for a few more days. I think you’ll find them really helpful!