Joy: A Big Tent For Your Whole Self
Joy is a feeling, of course. It is also a way to shift out of fear-based living so that a healthier foundation can be created for living.
It can be hard to think of life as being about more than fear since we have so much of it. Our media offers plenty of doom and gloom, and makes every decision fraught with potential harms and blowback. So many people walk around on tiptoes trying to manage the challenges of our fear-based world.
It would make sense if everything was a matter of life and death, but is it?
This is the thing: fear causes us to constrict and contract to deal only with the risk or danger at hand. When it dominates, we set aside parts of ourselves that do not support dealing with the fear in question.
- We are afraid of criticism from family members, so we do not wear the pretty, fun dress we love.
- We deny that we would like to be more athletic because we come from a family of scholars.
- We deny any aspect of ourselves because we will not fit the expectations of others and will be rejected or shamed.
All Aspects Of Yourself Are There For A Reason
Everything about you serves an important life purpose.
So often, we are encouraged to stifle ourselves, not to be a bother, to be less than we are. It can be disheartening to hear these messages because they can be very rejecting, not just of uncomfortable aspects of ourselves but of the best in us as well. It can be hard to be comfortable in our own skin, let alone like or love ourselves when we receive these negative messages. We need a different perspective to handle this kind of messaging.
A joy practice can help us.
We Sacrifice Ourselves To Belong
When we sacrifice ourselves, it is often to belong, but it is also because we want to be on good terms with others around us. Cultures have defined what is acceptable and unacceptable for centuries. It is not all bad, but some norms are overly restrictive. Sometimes the norms are actually harmful. A good example is when you are expected to drink to be a part of some work or social group.
A joy practice and anchor of joy make it easier to handle these situations. You are here to participate in the creation of a joy-based world. Your commitment is to the larger human journey and evolution. You belong to the universe, the human race, and the purpose of creating joy. A larger understanding of your belonging helps you maintain your friendliness to yourself and others while honoring who you are and what you need.
A Joy Practice Provides A Big Tent For Your Inner World
We all feel the sting of rejection of parts of ourselves that are unwelcome, including that which is beautiful in us. So many people get disparaged for their gentleness and empathy, beautiful qualities. When you recognize your inner energies and emotions as contributors to your creating joy in the world, you can welcome them, listen to them and let them inform you. The spirit of friendship you develop toward yourself will be reflected in how you treat yourself and extend to the rest of the world.
We need more friendship in the world, and joy lets us start with ourselves. Everyone benefits.
Photo by Nikola Sivkov