AND Feed Joy

January 14th, 2018

My wise father is fond of responding to whatever happens in life that he cannot change with the expression, it is what it is. Clearly able to discern the difference between what he can and cannot change in life, he has chosen to live from joy and focus on being grateful for whatever is going well.

David Steindl-Rast, the Benedictine monk famous for his writings and lectures on gratitude, reminds us all that we may not be grateful for everything that happens in life. AND, at the very same time, there is always something for which we can choose to be grateful in every moment.

As I watch my Dad respond to what comes his way, I am particularly struck by his lack of expectations for how things will happen. His lack of attachment to how things unfold or show up allows him to find something that brings delight, a surprise, or some expected gift. He chooses to enjoy something in whatever comes and to feel complete from the love he shares with family and friends.

Buddhists teach that suffering is the price we pay for our attachments. Expectations about how life will happen and when things will happen are the two biggest categories of attachment we have. We learned these attachments as children and they have been reinforced throughout adulthood. If you do X, Y will happen. This is the general rule we learned for being a good person, working hard, sharing our resources, and the like. And the rules now live in our head and unconsciously drive our expectations, if we let them.

Our attachment to expectations robs us of the surprises that life may have in store. For example, if we are so driven to get to a certain place at a certain time, we may miss the opportunity to engage in a conversation with a child or elder who wants to talk. Engaging in that talk could light up our hearts and bring unexpected delight. Yet, we are often too busy with our schedules and expectations about what will happen, if we deviate.

The bottom line is that life happens. We do not control what happens. We do get to respond. If we choose to live our joy, then no matter what happens, we choose to monitor where we place our energy and either withdraw it if we feel our joy slipping away or do more of whatever connects us with joy.

AND a joyful life is one that lights the way to serving a more conscious planet, and infecting others with joy until they are able to connect with their own joy. People filled with joy become the jumper cables for the people feeling the life drained out of them by hardship and loss. AND when we all charge with joy, we enjoy life and widen the circles of others who do the same.

AND all it takes is to feed joy.

Comments are closed.