Are you chasing happiness or relaxing into joy?

If you’re like me, you just want to be happy. You want circumstances around you and the people you interact with to please you. For most of us, our happiness depends on external conditions. I’m happy when it’s a sunny day or my daughter calls to chat.

Happiness has its opposites, too…usually when things happen that I don’t want and over which I have very little control. Like the COVID lockdown. Frozen magnolia blossoms from last week’s 29°. A friend’s betrayal. A frightening diagnosis.

You have your list, too, I’m sure. Unhappiness comes in degrees and visits us all. 

But then, there’s joy. That’s not quite the same as happiness.

Joy tends to be less about what’s happening TO me and more of an internal state that IS me, interacting with the world around me. 

The good news is that I can cultivate joy. 

The bad news is that I tend to forget to cultivate joy.

Too often I’m so busy doing life and it’s dramas that there’s no space to receive the delight that’s also there, freely offered for my joy. I’m just too oblivious to notice.

Joy has a chance to catch me when I’m awake to my senses and surroundings. 

~ A hawk perched on my fencepost. 

~ Pear blossoms bursting white on a gray day.

~ Spring announced by the first peepers’ love calls from the wetland behind my house.

Opportunities for joy come in a thousand variations, mostly small and easily missed. But receiving joy demands something of me. I must be willing to catch the moment. To be distracted from my agenda. To open my senses for what’s waiting. We’re not trained for this.

Joy likes to surprise me. It’s not something I can plan. But it is my choice to receive it.

Joy reminds me that I’ve been gifted a life on a miraculously exquisite planet, here for my delight. 

I just need to make space and create an intention to en-JOY it.

This is where I do have control, if I choose to. But that’s a truth I can easily forget in my busy, too-full life. 

Life is hard enough. Simple joys make life easier. And maybe that’s enough. 

But here’s why I think the practice of receiving joy is so essential right, especially in such a troubled world. 

When we engage practices to receive joy more consistently, we begin to notice subtle shifts in how we interpret circumstances that seem antithetical to our happiness. Ancient teachings, right?

We can’t change what happens to us, but we can change how we receive it and what we make it mean.

When we invite Joy to inhabit our lives, we change from the inside out. And the balance we’ve longed for begins to shift. 

It’s just remembering that’s hard.

I invite you to open to receiving Joy. Being easy with yourself. Just noticing what’s there to surprise you out of your stress and into what’s been waiting to make your day easier.

With so much love,

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