As another birthday approaches I have been thinking a lot about how fragile life is and just how short a time we have on this earth. We do not know which day would be our last. One morning in September, a friend of mine, kissed his family goodbye and left for work. He did not know that it was his last day to live. He was shot and killed while performing the duties of his job. I keep thinking, did he do the things that brought him joy? What are the things he left unsaid or undone? What are the dreams, aspirations or goals he had, that he told himself he would have time for later? What are the activities that brought him joy, that he failed to explore, or that he abandoned or placed on hold for some reason or the other?
I have also been thinking about my own life’s struggles and journey; about the years I spent existing in survival mode. I have been thinking about the tears I cried and the times I spent being depressed and unhappy. These thoughts make me want to forget the past and even the problems of the present and just LIVE!
Admittedly, there have been many times when I felt like I am simply existing. Times when life felt dull and routine. But I don’t ever want to experience that again. I want to Live. I want to live boldly and passionately. I want to live joyously and without apology. I want to live freely and without limits. I owe it to myself, and to those around me. I want to live, doing the things that bring me joy.
What Exactly is Joy?
Personally, I think the discussion of what is joy, is one that cannot be exhausted. Many things can contribute to joy. Also, I think it can mean different things to different persons.
A Global Joy Summit was held during November 13th to 16th. Attendees had the opportunity to be inspired by the wisdom of both the Dalai Lama and the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu. By the way, they have a book together titled, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, of which I plan on getting a copy.
The summit explored ways to deal with challenges of life such as stress, anxiety, grief, depression, despair and isolation, as well as practical tools to cultivate well-being, connection, love, compassion, and joy. One may think that joy is the absence of suffering. But maybe it is not. It is evident that suffering and pain is inevitable; it is all around us. It is our perspective about the suffering that helps to open up the door to joy.
Based on the wisdom of these two spiritual leaders, happiness is a fleeting emotion, whereas joy is a lasting state of existence. A quote from their book says, “We create most of our suffering, so it should be logical that we also have the ability to create more joy. It simply depends on the attitudes, the perspectives, and the reactions we bring to situations and to our relationships with other people. When it comes to personal happiness there is a lot that we as individuals can do.”
One Way to Create More Joy
On the cusp of another birthday, as I reflect on the past year, I have one suggestion for experiencing more joy; one that has worked well for me this year. It is, to do those things that bring you joy. Stressing on the doing, here; since stagnation is a breeding ground for unhappiness. Do them passionately and unapologetically. Do the things that uplift you, that stimulate your mind, that make you feel alive, that contribute to your overall well-being; the things that make your heart swell.
During 2022, I discovered two activities that bring me joy. I will discuss just one of them here. One of my goals for 2022 was to hike at least twice per month. I have always been fueled by fun and adventure, but for most of my life I was unable to explore that part of myself. This year, hiking has allowed me to do so. To date I have completed 23 hikes. Once a current injury does not persist, I hope to complete 2 more hikes before the end of the year. I say this now, but not too long ago, I thought of giving up hiking for good. Writing the words, make me see how absurd the whole thought was.
You may also like last year’s birthday post: Two Powerful Life Lessons I Learned this Past Year
Pour Joy into your Cup
Why would I give up something that brings me joy? And where would that leave me physically, mentally and emotionally? How would such a decision affect those closest to me?
I am sure you have heard the expression, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” When we take care of ourselves, when we nourish our souls, then we become better equipped to pour into those around us. By giving up something that brings me joy, I will only become miserable and unhappy, thus causing my cup to become empty. Not only does hiking give me joy and pours into my cup, but one of the greatest benefits I have experienced is the improvement in my mental well-being.
You can also read: The Five Most Important Life Lessons I Learned by Age 45
Wrapping Things Up…
My friend, and so many others have already left this world. But you and I are still here. What are the things that bring you joy? What are the things that fill up your cup? What is that thing that you have been wanting to do? What are the things that you have abandoned or postponed? I encourage you to pursue those things. Do the things you have been wanting to do! Pursue them passionately and watch your life as well as your personal and mental well-being improve. Watch your joy lever go up.
I want to make the very best of whatever remaining time I am granted in this life. I want to live harmoniously with others, especially those that matter the most. I want to maintain my boundaries and my peace. I want to do the things that bring me joy. I want to truly live and not just exist. I want my cup to overflow, and I want to pour into others from my overflow. What about you?
Thank you for visiting my blog. I welcome your comments. Enjoyed the post? Then don’t keep it to yourself, share it with a friend.
Until next time ~Namaste🙏