Joy

Do you think there is a difference between happiness and joy? Or do they seem like the same thing to you?

I admit that in the past I was confused about the difference between the two terms, or I used them interchangeably, until one conversation occurred with a friend of mine. He shared that, for him, joy was a much deeper feeling. It gave me pause and inspired me to reconsider my views.

While I love both feelings and enjoy their power, I believe one is far more important to me than the other.

Happiness seems to come from the outside, while joy comes from the inside. Happiness is triggered by all sorts of things I encounter in the world, while joy feels like an overflowing of love from my heart.

There are things and events which create and produce both feelings. Personally, I find happiness is short lived when compared with joy. Sometimes happiness feels like a present I’ve dreamed about but once I have it, its power fades, and I’m looking for the next thing to make me happy.

When joy arrives, its power remains with me, and I feel its love radiate through me. Although my life moves on, the memories of the joy linger and will easily return, if I bring them to mind.

So, what about you? Do moments of joy visit you and stay with you? Would you like there to be more moments of joy in your life?

If I answered my own question, my response would be, ‘yes, absolutely I want as many moments of joy as possible.’

You can probably guess my next question.

What would bring about more moments of joy?

Part of me is always pragmatic, searching for an approach that supports me and brings into my life that which I most treasure. In this case that would be to create and experience more and more moments of joy.

I sat back one day and let a calmness wash over me. I opened my heart and encouraged myself to allow my love to overflow. I did this because I know that joy responds to this call. It lives within me but wants to be unleashed into my world.

I believe that joy lives inside each of us, ever present no matter what our outward experience of life is. And perhaps it wants to spark and ignite into existence when we are down and need it the most. But we have to allow this. We have to open the pipeline, and the wider the better. We are the ones in charge of clearing the way.

I wanted to know if there was something specific I could do to enhance joy’s presence in my life. As soon as I asked the question, the answer appeared…give yourself the gift of illumination…and create a memory list of moments of joy.

I thought…what a phenomenal idea. And what started out as a simple list, expanded into thoughts of a joy journal or a joy scrapbook.

Something inside me caught fire.

One recollection ran into the next and then cascaded, filling page after page. It was as if I had opened a treasure chest of joy. What a sensational feeling.

One of the best parts of this experience is that I can share it with you. I am absolutely convinced that we all have the power to overflow joy into our lives and into the lives of those who surround us. We are connected to each other, both here and beyond and joy is one of our most intimate languages.

I hope you call forth the joy that lives in your heart and let it overflow into your life.

When Kindness Comes From Joy

Have you ever wondered where kindness comes from? Is it innately inside each one of us or does something need to happen before it appears?

It feels to me that we operate with different definitions and ideas about kindness.

I say this because I recently heard someone suggest that ‘we should be kinder than necessary’. While I appreciate the idea that kindness is important, two things about this statement challenge me.

The first is the use of the word ‘should’. Personally, I’ve gone to great lengths to eliminate this word from my vocabulary, because it is a ‘shaming’ word, meant to enforce one person’s opinion on another.

I wonder if you react the same way that I do when ‘should’ is used. I am immediately suspicious of the motivation of the one using it. Why do they think I ‘should’?

The second concern I have about this statement is the word ‘necessary’. I have a difficult time reconciling the use of the words kindness and necessary in the same sentence. The implication being that there is some sort of requirement or obligation involved with kindness. That isn’t how I conceive of kindness.

I went looking for references to kindness and found one that seemed to mesh with my understanding. It suggested that it is any selfless act of caring or compassion and can easily be recognized in both our own or others large and small actions.

I wondered how often kindness flows to me and through me. I paused for a few minutes to see what would come.

If you sat back right now for a moment or two, what do you think would come to you?

Two events jumped to the head of the line for me. In each instance they were infused with joy, not only for the receiver, but also for the giver. And it seemed to me that joy was the real source for the acts of kindness. I recognized a deliberateness to the actions, a meaningful opening to spirit and a flowing from abundance, as if kindness was an endless source.

I’d like to share mine with you in the hopes that you see some of your own and let them wrap you up in a feeling of joy.

The first one happened a few weeks ago while I was at a workshop at Kripalu Retreat Center in Lenox, Massachusetts. After classes were over for the day our group decided to get together in the evening for a kind of impromptu ‘talent show’. One of my friends, whom I’d met six years earlier at the same workshop, stood up and mesmerized the group with her divine performance poetry reading. We sat spellbound. I could not believe the incredible growth in my friend and went over to her; hugged her and told her I was so proud of her. Some might view this as an act of kindness, but she and I knew it was more than that because it came from a deep well of joy we share.

A few days later I received an email from her with an attached video of her reading a poem she wrote just for me. I was touched to my very core and a kindness born of joy was returned to me.

The second event happened a few days ago, while my wife and I were on a day trip together. We stopped at a restaurant my parents loved to visit and sat down at an empty table. Our waitress came over and engaged us in a conversation and asked if she could get us something to drink. When she returned, she inquired if we were ready to order. She took my wife’s order and turned to me. I said I’d like to start with a piece of their coconut cream pie (knowing that they sometimes run out of it). She told me she liked the way I ordered the best first and from there we had an extremely pleasant exchange throughout the meal.

After our meal was over and she came to our table with our bill, I told her that I was awarding her my ‘best waitstaff of the year award’. She absolutely beamed with pleasure and told me I’d made her whole day…maybe her whole week, as she went to help the next customer.

I took the paper ring that encircled my napkin and silverware and made it into a small award certificate for her and gave her a tip that matched our bill total. I handed everything to her, and my wife and I started walking out. She ran after us and called out to me, that she was going to keep the certificate forever and that I’d made her whole year!

There was such joy in her voice, and I knew that my simple act of kindness came from joy and reached out to create more joy.

Each of these things are important to me because they represent a connection to our divine source, where joy and love exist in abundance.

Not Guilty

I suspect there might be numerous claims as to the culture or entity that has the most ‘guilt’ associated with it. Do you have an opinion about this? Perhaps your very own cultural upbringing would be your answer.

When I think about it, guilt is one of the most potent and destructive forces in the world. I have yet to come across anyone who does not know its powerful and invasive affects.

As a curious person I wonder about guilts origin. Where exactly did it come from? Does it serve a purpose in our lives? Do we get to decide, to actually choose whether to participate in feeling guilty or not?

No doubt we each have our own version of our guilt stories.

Lately I’ve been wondering how to give my ‘guilt story’ up, so I decided to go on my own self-guided ‘guilt trip’. Rather than taking the normal journey at someone else’s prompting, I chose to allow whatever feelings of guilt to come show themselves to me.

I asked for only one thing during this process…clarity.

Okay, so off I go.

But wait, where are my answers going to come from? Of course, for me, it will be Lia, that part of god that speaks to me in an ethereal feminine voice of love.

Question 1.

Where did all my guilt come from?

A rather simple answer came my way as Lia spoke, “All guilt comes from the world around you and is absorbed within you the moment you accept it as true for you.”

Well, maybe not so simple after all, because it is really easy to accept what others tell you as your own truth.

Question 2.

What purpose does guilt serve?

And after a moment, Lia’s sweet voice responds saying, “Others desire to have their wishes followed, so they choose to employ guilt to make you decide to accept them and their ways. They work diligently to control your actions and decisions and provide penalties and punishments for any noncompliance on your part.”

Wow, that’s some clarity alright! I needed a follow-up question, so asked, “Lia, I see how utterly correct you are and am wondering how what you’ve told me in the past can be true in this case. You’ve said that ‘all’ things serve me. It feels so awful to suffer the pangs of guilt, so I’m wondering how guilt can serve me?”

I am instantly rewarded with an answer that makes sense to me, because Lia told me this, “You assume that all things must be seen or felt to be ‘positive’ in order to serve you. This is not the case, with guilt or with any other thing. Both ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ experiences serve you because they both point the way forward.”

Well, I surely want to move forward, but still wondered about her words.

Of course, she knew this. She always knows and since her love for me is whole and complete, she answered the question that was in my mind before it reached my lips.

She went on by telling me what I needed to know, “Beloved, guilt is your choice. No one can make you feel what you do not choose. No one. So, use what is offered to you to define your direction. The words ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ are concepts, but more than that, they are guideposts. They offer you choices and what you end up choosing creates your life experiences. If you desire to live a joy-filled life, release any guilt offered you and know that it is and always will be your choices that defines your life.”

I needed to sit back and reflect for a minute and let her words sink into me. When they did, I understood that by releasing any guilt and embracing that which offers me love and connection, I can choose to live the joy-filled life I desire.