Making happiness and laughter a priority is important, no matter who you are. Often we get so caught up in other things that we put joy on the back burner. Some people have been taught that taking time for play and recreation is a waste of time or irresponsible. The truth is that without the presence of enjoyment, for the sake of it, we do not experience the entirety of life. It is easy to neglect this aspect of life. Trust me, I know.
Parents get caught up in the responsibility and trials of parenthood, people get stuck in career advancement mode, relationship issues get in the way. It’s easy to see why making joy is important in those situations. Having a joyful parent is healthier for kids, taking recreation time makes focus and creativity come easier which is conducive to professional advancement, and it goes without saying that joy is like oxygen for relationships. Yes, everyone needs joy in there lives in order to thrive. With that being said, there are a few specific areas which I would like to address when it comes to the importance of joy.
First, I’d like to address the tendency to be overly serious in people who lead highly spiritual lives. Yes, seriousness has its place…no matter whose life we’re talking about…and definitely in spiritual matters. Some spiritual people become so involved in their pursuits of spiritual knowledge and practice that their sense of humor almost disappears. When this becomes a way of life, it is a sad thing to see, at least in my opinion. I do not think that many would disagree that a large component of spirituality is love. I mention this because when we think of a person who is feeling love within their being, what visual comes to mind? At least a small smile, right?
While we do live in challenging times, and it is good to study and be aware…it is just as important to cultivate joy. First, the world that we live in is in need of more love and happiness. Second, a heart which is filled with joy is better equipped to be of assistance to others, which is the ultimate goal of many who are highly spiritual. While I enjoy a deep, meaningful conversation as much (probably more) than the next person…my soul needs and craves interactions which are light and uplifting. Everyone’s soul has that need…even if they don’t know it. When spirituality starts to turn into constant anxiety and/or austerity, that’s an indication that something has become imbalanced. I’ve found myself turning a little too serious a time or two, so believe me…I really do understand. Not to mention that I grew up in a religion which was well known in the past for making predictions as to when the “current ways of the world” would come to an end. Guess what? It didn’t happen on any of the occasions that they said it would. What did happen was that all of the people who were exposed to these predictions all the time existed in fear and misery. This is why, while I know that major changes are happening…I will not buy into any predictions. Predictions take away our ability to live in the moment…which is where true joy is found anyway!
The second situation in which it is all too easy for joy to become forgotten is in chronic illness. When a person is in consistent levels of pain, fatigue, and other symptoms joy can be a little more difficult to find. This is another situation which I have a great deal of understanding of. Over the years, I’ve learned that even during times that there is not much that I can do other than rest, finding little things which bring me pleasure matters. Watching a silly TV show, reading a light magazine or book, listening to upbeat music, enjoying some fresh air through an open window…anything which takes the focus off of the physical feelings….can be so helpful.
What I’ve found is that what we focus on perpetuates more of the same. It isn’t that I’m saying that feeling bad is anyone’s fault, and that anyone can be healthy if they just imagine properly. That is malarkey! When I hear talk which implies that everything negative in a person’s life is essentially because they aren’t thinking correctly, it makes me crazy. I do know that emotions and thoughts are very closely related to physical well being. At the same time, I know that sometimes good and positive people have chronic illnesses and that they have utilized everything to change their situation, including positive thought. I’m all for doing everything we can and especially thinking positively. Where my issue lies, is when people are made to feel guilty for not being able to think themselves better. Talk about a vicious cycle.
Yes, remain optimistic and believe in miracles…they are real! We cannot try to put miracles and healing on a schedule though…if they’re going to occur, they happen when they happen, so don’t give up. Just don’t blame yourself for not feeling better right now. Instead, find those little things which bring you joy right where you are…as often as you can. Find things that you can do, no matter where you are…even if you’re in bed or on the couch for a few days or so. Many chronic illnesses have times of flare ups and remissions. Learning how to ride those waves can take time. Be gentle with yourself as you find the ways that work for you.
Find those little moments anywhere you can…they really matter…they really make a difference.