Look at this guy, this big and intelligent creature. Can you see anything beyond his pure joy, his obvious pleasure, his complete surrender to the moment?
Wow, that’s what I want to feel all the time. But is that realistic?
I think it’s possible to feel real joy when we are looking at life through the eyes of a child. Children live in the present moment. Their emotions run through them faster than you can blink. They hold on to no story. One minute they are laughing, playing and delighting in the adventure. The next they are crying, sad because someone took the ball away. But just as fast their curious minds find something new to focus on. Something that will lead them once more to joy.
Children don’t live in the story of their lives.
They live in the experience of the moment. And that is how we too can find our joy, no matter what is going on in our lives. While I was losing my house, going bankrupt, and questioning my marriage, I would spend time with a baby who thinks of me as grandma. I called him my JOYboy, because that’s what I felt in his presence.
I watched him explore his world with bright-eyed curiosity and imagined how it would feel to look through new eyes at my surroundings. I sensed his courage as he attempted to walk, falling over and over again, determined to make it across the room. And I wondered what that would feel like, to want something so much just for the pleasure of it, that neither fear nor frustration could stop me. I saw how he learned about his own capabilities staring at his articulating fingers while grasping a toy. And I realized there was a time when I too was learning about myself and what I could do without judgement. I learned so much from this child who as yet had no words to describe his experience. My time with him was contemplative and wondrous. Everything was new, alive, vital, and sweet in those moments with him and I appreciated the opportunity to put my thoughts, my worries, my pain, on hold while I reconnected to the simple pleasure of joy!
Joy is not necessarily a firecracker moment, filled with excitement and adrenaline.
It is an opening of the heart to the sweetness life offers us in the simplest of things. It’s in your lover’s gentle words, your child’s warm embrace, your friends smiling eyes, and your dog’s loyal lick. It’s in the dawn of a new day, the smell of an open fire, the song of the birds, and the spray of the ocean. Really it’s everywhere if you would just suspend your story, step away from things you can not do anything about in this moment, and allow yourself to look, listen, and feel your connection to all that is.
Yes, there are times of great stress, great pain, great despair.
And all you may want to do is climb under the covers and never get out of bed again. I know that feeling. But I also know that to the degree that I allow those negative feelings, I have the same capacity to feel that degree of joy. And I look for it. I remember times when I have had it. And sometimes I find that my joy is so great, I can’t help but weep at the magnitude of that feeling.
So don’t be afraid of the ‘bad’ times. Let yourself feel all of it with abandon.
Knowing that you will feel joy with an even greater sense of wonder and delight, because you have the capacity for all of it. And in those times that it’s hard to connect with joy, look for your own JOYboy. You might find it in a child’s loving gaze, in the arms of your beloved, on the trail in the woods, in a song on the radio, or in the magnificent sunset that signals a time for rest. It’s there. It’s waiting for your attention, your focus, your acknowledgement. It’s powerful and sweet. Open and inviting. It’s your true nature if you will allow it. Just look at that picture of the elephant once more. See his smile. Feel his delight. That’s right, you got it, that’s JOY.
As always, live easy and be kind to yourself