What exactly is joy?
Is joy an unexpected, momentary experience?
Or, can joy be cultivated and become an ongoing way of being?
Questions about joy have been floating around my mind since I received an Akashic Recording Reading from Heather Gray.
In case, you’re not familiar with the Akashic Records, Heather describes them as
“…a soul-level dimension of consciousness that contains a vibrational record of every individual’s soul and its journey.”
So when you access the records, via an intuitive, you can gain insight, direction, and healing tailor-made for you.
I’ve enjoyed intuitive readings periodically for a good part of my adult life. The information I receive in this manner invariably clarifies, affirms, and encourages my own soul urgings. And sometimes that’s exactly what I need to actualize the next step on my life path.
During the reading, I asked Heather multiple questions, including “How I can best use the later years of my life?” She (and the records) surprised me by responding with the suggestion of enjoyment rather than a specific preoccupation. My “task” according to the records is to enjoy these years. That means to relax and play, show up with love and light, let go of the “shoulds,” and avoid pushing to make things happen.
I’ve never considered joy the barometer for the quality of my life. Hard work served as my measure. But staying busy – really busy – stressed me to the max and turned out to be a clever way to neglect my deepest wounds. Fortunately, my body forced me to stop by creating an illness.
I think many, if not most modern people, function like I did. They’re focused on success or external expectations and leave little room for genuine joy in their life aside from the occasional happy surprise or sense pleasure. For example, how often do you stop to consider:
- What does joy mean to you?
- Are you enjoying your life?
- How can you add more joy to your life?
What Does Joy Mean?
Joy! Enjoyment! What do they mean? People like me – the nose to the grindstone types – need a dictionary definition to get us moving in the right direction.
The word enjoyment, according to my Scrivener dictionary, means to take pleasure in something. Just reading this list of synonyms lightens my heart:
“Pleasure, fun, entertainment, amusement, diversion, recreation, relaxation; delight, happiness, merriment, joy, gaiety, jollity; satisfaction, gratification, liking, relish, gusto; humorous delectation.”
The word joy means a feeling of pleasure or happiness.
So joy, henceforth, will be my measure and the deciding factor for engaging in an activity. Or will it?
This brings me to the question at hand:
- Do I select situations that bring me joy and reject ones that do not, or do I bring joy into whatever circumstance I’m in?
In the first scenario, you depend on other people and external circumstances to bring you joy, which means an unreliable experience, often out of your control. In the second approach, you work with your own mind to cultivate a bubbling stream of joy within, one that’s accessible to you most of the time.
I say, “most of the time,” because life contains a mix of emotions. Indeed, the Taoist sage Chuang Tzu coined the term 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows to represent the countless shifting emotions experienced over a lifetime. Although most of us long for a fairytale life, do you know anyone who’s really living one? It’s unrealistic to expect you can sustain a single, static emotional state all the time.
Nevertheless, I believe:
Joy can be the primary color in your emotional kaleidoscope if you choose it again and again.
That’s what I’m practicing joy.
My Simple Formula for Joy
This is the simple formula I’ve created to help me bring out the joy. Maybe it will help you too!
1. Remember Joy
It’s interesting that the definition of enjoyment is to “take” pleasure. The “take” indicates to me that you have to actively engage and consciously tap into joy. This means intentionally remembering joy several times each day, or you’ll fall into your old joyless habits.
Here are some ways to remember joy during your day.
- I start first thing in the morning. As soon as I wake up, I look at my mind and try to tap into the energy of joy. You can use an event like this – waking up, taking a shower, eating a meal, tea time – as a trigger to remember joy.
- You can use a timer on your phone to beep and remind you to remember joy. Then take pleasure in that very moment.
- Pin joyful slogans in visible places around your house and at work to help you remember to awaken joy. As soon as you see the reminder, activate joy. Breathe in the moment, enjoy the sights, and tune into the pleasant sounds around you.
2. Stay in the Moment
Discontent lies in the past and worry resides in the future. Practice awareness of the current moment instead. Connect with your true self, the part of you that’s simply aware, beyond likes and dislikes. Feel satisfied to just be and see the amusement in all the unnecessary fuss the mind wants to create.
3. Drop Pettiness
Pettiness might be the fastest way to put a dent in joy. It’s that voice in your head that always wants to criticize the smallest, unimportant detail. It’s the one prone to irritation when someone doesn’t behavior according to your strict expectations.
Don’t get worked up over the trivial. Choose joy instead.
4. Open the Heart
An open heart rejoices when others succeed. An open heart feels joy when someone has a new dress, pretty hair-do, or a special friend in tow. An open heart gets high on seeing others laugh, play, and indulge in fun.
Don’t close in on yourself. Open your eyes, enjoy the goodness around you, and rejoice in the triumphs – big or small – of others.
5. The Way Life Is
Life is impermanent, uncertain, and sometimes seems unfair. Fighting against what unfolds, however, only makes life more unbearable.
“Be like an old wise man, watching children play.” – Dudjom Rinpoche
Children often take their play very seriously, but a wise old man knows it’s all a game. When you accept life as it is, but lighten up on seeing it as so solid and real, you’re able to experience a spaciousness of mind that tends to be naturally blissful. This understanding also gives you more perspective when you meet sorrows in life.
Of course, it makes sense to let go of unhappy situations when you can like a unfulfilling job. But, that’s not always possible. Therefore, wouldn’t it be better to emphasize internally sourced joy? Wouldn’t it be better to be able to find joy even when the externals are not perfect? Then you won’t be dependent on externals and can let joy sparkle from within.
I’m probably the worst person to write about joy since I’m just a beginner with it. I know there are many other ways to stimulate joy. This is just my plan. Wish me luck with it!
Where do you stand with joy? Is it a central force in your life?
Thank you for reading, I know your time is precious! If you found this article helpful, please take a moment to share it with others. Thank you! May you be well, happy, and safe – always. With love, Sandra