The photo is thanks to Robert Collins on Unsplash
I am always on the look out to spot more joy and to give more joy. Take last night, I dropped by the virtual Joy Summit and watched for a second time the wonderful documentary on the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s abiding friendship called Mission Joy. You may want to have a break from the news cycle and give yourself the gift of watching this film filled with joy, laughter, love, meaning and friendship between two great spiritual leaders who have both suffered hardship. Yet, laughter, tenderness and playfulness electrify the air between and around them. You cannot be in their presence (virtual or in person) without suddenly finding yourself beaming from ear to ear and grateful that they were born.
“Discovering more joy does not, I’m sorry to say, save us from the inevitability of hardship and heartbreak. In fact, we may cry more easily, but we will laugh more easily, too. Perhaps we are just more alive. Yet as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather than embitters. We have hardship without becoming hard. We have heartbreak without being broken.”
― Dalai Lama XIV, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World
Unlike happiness, small joys are something we can find every day, if we take the time to look. Last week I stepped out on the sidewalk and saw the full moon and it was even in a different part of the sky when I woke up. I missed the lunar eclipse but the joy of seeing the moon and sharing it with others across the continent and on the street was delightful.
The moon is there but unless we look, we forego the wonder that nature has on display every day.
One of the benefits of studying Japanese Psychology is its emphasis on cultivating our skills in paying attention. It helps me to notice all the small joys in my ordinary moments. In fact, the practice of “paying attention,” is in itself a joy because it reminds me every day, in the midst of obstacles and confusion, to look and see what else there is to notice beyond the default of the obvious.
In troubled times, it is easy to believe that life is bleak, and there are undeniable bleak moments for us all. Yet, there is also the truth that kindness is rampant, and beauty is everywhere, whether we notice or not. The practice of noticing, using a wide-angle lens, gives us a chance to expand our view. And with that, we rejuvenate, experience gratitude, and possibly consider what we can do to lend a hand.
Each brand-new day brings surprises. Some we like. Some we don’t. But, we can cultivate the skill of using our attention to always see small joys. Obstacles are easy to see. But the beautiful moon, the kind words, the smell of coffee, the car that starts, the bed we slept in, or the chance to make fresh tracks in new-fallen snow (well, that might just be tomorrow) – those are opportunities we need to look for.
If you are suffering and can find no joy the proven antidote according to the Dalai Lama is to help others. “Our visit to this planet is short, so we should use our time meaningfully, which we can do by helping others wherever possible.”
“When you are kind to someone else, you end up being joyful, but why? Because we realize that we are made for goodness, “Archbishop Desmond Tutu
I hope you too find many joyful moments, Warmly, Trudy