Updated: 7 days ago
In the disruptive world we live in, it can sometimes feel like finding joy is like searching for a needle in a haystack.
What if I told you that you could be looking in all the wrong places? Would you believe me?
If you feel lost, attempting to find the joy, in this disruption that is the world today. Take heart. You are not alone. We have all been taught to seek joy externally to us. To seek it in other people and in things. Only to discover that even once you have all the people, and all the things, joy still illudes you somehow.
There is a better way, and it is within you!
Yes, that’s right, joy does not begin externally to you. It begins within your heart, forged from a beautiful feeling that is innate in us all. Whether you’ve experienced difficult times or good times externally, your faithful friend Joy always exists within your heart. She is waiting for you to turn inward and feel her smiling out at you.
We can all look back to our childhood and remember some moments of joy, even if we endured difficulty as a child. These moments are held deep within our heart’s memory. Think of a time when you experienced great joy in your life. While you are thinking of that memory, put your hand on your heart, and feel that joy.
The human body is miraculous. Each time you remember the joy you felt, the exact same feeling you felt in that moment returns to your body. It is like it is trapped in a tiny bubble within your heart. Each time you enact it, the bubble floats up like blowing bubbles as a child. So your moments of joy never leave you.
If you are a parent, think back to a joyful moment that you had with your children. The very same joy bubble will rise within you, creating a full sensory experience. That is because your body is reproducing the exact same chemical response. Our complexity and capability never cease to amaze me. We did not chase these moments, we simply experienced them with present moment awareness.
Through my own personal development journey, I learned to understand what exclusively chasing joy externally felt like. I pinned it on others, like the longest game of pin the tail on the donkey, only to be disappointed time and time again.
These experiences brought me deep pain, so I then went on, like many do and built stories of worthiness, regret and suffering around the experiences, like giant snowballs. So much so that I locked my heart away, in an effort I thought, to protect myself from the comedown of joy’s friends, who seemed to follow closely behind. You might know them, they are called disappointment, regret, worthiness and suffering, all coming along for the ride when we seek joy externally.
Have you felt this way? You might be saying, why do we do this to ourselves?
We do this because of our ancestral conditioning, through long lines of parenting. That doesn’t mean our parents did not mean well. Of course, they did, just like you likely do if you are a parent. In reality, we have simply on the way, lost our ability to build the foundation of joy, from within ourselves as individuals
The good news is that it doesn’t need to be this way at all. When you use mindfulness to build a solid foundation of joy from within, the lack of, or retraction of external joy does not collapse your tower altogether. Here you begin to discover that you have the strength to hold strong, through your own foundation of inner joy. It is yours and yours alone, and with practice, it can become a formidable force from within. So much so, that you become unshakable even in the strongest of storms that hit us.
In yogic terms, it is often referred to as, sitting in your suffering until it becomes your blessing. When you have built a strong foundation of inner joy, and you learn to sit in the storm, your internal joy cannot be moved by others. Your heart beautifully remains open, but it is strong from within. You no longer rely on the joy that others bring to fill your cup so to speak. The joy others bring into your life begins to overflow your cup, and when it disappears for one reason or another, your cup is still full by the internal well that you have connected to within.
A perfect example is to reflect on the current climate of the world today. The world is turbulent. At the moment it can feel like there is no joy left. COVID, then war, and natural disasters seem to be coming back to back. When your internal joy cup is empty, because you haven’t learned to build a solid foundation of joy within, you will be easily disrupted time and time again.
Use the current disruptive times as an opportunity to turn inward. Fill your own cup, to develop your solid foundation of joy within. You can do this in many ways mindfully, like beginning with a gratitude practice aimed directly at yourself.
As you start to stabilise your foundation, you will begin to see the disruption in the external world differently. You will feel less pulled by the barrage of joyless things in the news, feeling drawn back to your foundation of joy.
Having a solid internal foundation of joy is powerful in the disruptive world we live in. Because you are no longer focused on drawing all your joy from the outside world, you become more discerning, gradually seeing the complexity for what it is, rather than being pulled into every drama that comes your way.
When you feel joy within, a beautiful gentle burning feeling within you warms your heart, like the sun on a beautiful spring day. Then, the joy that others bring you merely amplifies that joy. In a way, it is kind of like the philosophy of, if you want something, first give it to yourself. Joy will come to you, like a mirror of your own joy, and life starts to look a whole lot better.
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Build the foundation of joy, radiate it outward and mindfully embrace joy back in your life, one step at a time.