On Joy and Sorrow

be happy now Dec 13, 2020


On Joy and Sorrow

December 13, 2020


Last month we delved deep into the "Heartset of Gratitude." I trust and know from your emails, we are all working on expanding our heartset of gratitude in ways that fit our journey. I believe as our gratitude grows, it gives rise to joy. I dearly want to close this last Blog of 2020 on the upbeat theme of Joy. 

However, there is a dissonance that must also be acknowledged. The year 2020 -- a year defined by the COVID-19 Pandemic, a Stress Epidemic, and Emotional Contagion -- is a year filled with challenges, hardship, loss and sorrow. The loss of loved ones, of free time, of hugs, of financial security, and on and on, is very real. It can be frightening. It is certainly humbling. I see and feel the pain.  

I asked myself how does one reconcile Joy and Sorrow? I turned to Kahlil Gibran's masterpiece, The Prophet, for wisdom. What follows is an excerpt from the chapter, "On Joy and Sorrow:"

   "Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
    And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. 
   How else can it be?
   The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
   Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
   And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
   When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
   When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
   Some of you say, 'Joy is greater than sorrow,' and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater.'
   But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
   Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed." 

There are so many lines in this chapter from The Prophet that speak to my heart and soul. Which lines resonate with you?

As the lead for this Bog, I chose:

"The deeper that sorrow carves into your being,
      the more joy you can contain."

Yes, I agree. Joy and Sorrow are inseparable. As we reflect on the many challenges and tragedies of 2020, may we also look to the future with hope and know that our joy will be greater still in the months and years ahead. 

Pause for a minute -- let us each ask ourselves the question: "What person, pet, place or thing has brought me indescribable joy in the past?" Can you feel the experience in your body? What do you see, smell, hear, taste and touch with this memory? Use all the 5 senses. And then add your 6th sense to know what this memory is saying to you about your joys and your sorrows.   

For example, there is a joyful moment I treasure.  One evening on the deck of the Hay House “I Can Do It!” cruise in February of 2011, after 8 hours in classes, I was walking the top deck. The sun was setting, the sky was brilliant with oranges and yellows, and the Caribbean breeze was soft and warm. People were in small groups strolling or sitting and talking. I had a glass of crisp chardonnay and was alone with my thoughts. I breathed deeply, -- and it came to me, “I deserve all joy!” It was a transformative experience, a feeling of pure Joy, a moment of grace. In that moment, I felt worthy -- worthy of all my good fortune and blessings in my life. This mantra, "I deserve all Joy," is deeply spiritual to me. I truly believe we are all children of God, or if you prefer, your Higher Power or the Universe. I believe each and every one of us deserve all joy -- and it a feeling that must be experienced to be believed. 

I was transforming my self-talk from ‘How can I be so lucky?’ to ‘I deserve all joy!’ It was early on in the start of my journey to accept myself, to love myself just as I am. In that moment, I felt worthy. 

For years, I forgot this personal and powerful affirmation. Then in 2018 when I created my  Gratitude Journal, I started to close each journal entry with this mantra. I also asked an associate to create a visual for me which is now framed and on the bookcase beside my meditation and journaling space.   

Whenever I say this affirmation, I smile and feel the joy and love of being me. Try it on for size and say  "I deserve all joy" to yourself. I hope you smile, too. 

So, let's come back to your reflection -- what is your joyful memory, in the past and in 2020?  I hope these thoughts from David Whyte's chapter on "Joy" in Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words give you inspiration:

"Joy is a meeting place, of deep intentionality and of self forgetting, the bodily alchemy of what lies inside us in communion with what formally seemed outside, but is now neither, but become a living frontier, a voice speaking between us and the world: dance, laughter, affection, skin touching, singing in the car, music in the kitchen, the quiet irreplaceable and companionable presence of a daughter; the sheer intoxicating beauty of the world inhabited as an edge between what we previously thought was us and what we thought was other than us. 

Joy can be made by practiced, hard-won achievement as much as by an unlooked for, passing act of grace arrived out of nowhere; joy is a measure of our relationship to death and our living with death, joy is the act of giving ourselves away before we need to or are asked to, joy is practiced generosity." 

I gently request that you write your joys on a piece of paper or in your journal. Please share your joys with family and friends. I would love to hear from you about your joys. 

One of my greatest joys in 2020 is that a small group of us banded together and, in a collaborative effort with several nonprofits, launched Imagination Library in our county. We now have over 500 children from 0-5 years old registered and receiving an age-appropriate book in the mail every month! I start to cry tears of joy every time I think of the all the children going to their mail box and receiving a book with their name on it. 

There is an energy -- a vibration -- to Joy. In this life we cannot escape sorrows. And at the at the same time, the great wisdom traditions instruct us that our purpose and essential nature is Joy. How do we tap into our Soul, our Source, to feel and live Joy? That is for each person to discover and is unique to our journey.

However, there is a process, or steps in the process, that is there for all of us. The first step is to tap into a memory -- an experience where we felt Joy. The next step is to live joy and then to radiate joy and share our happiness with loved ones, our community, and with all Beings. When we do this, we cross the boundary from what we feel inside to what we express to the world we create. Maybe we are smiling, or touching a partner's arm, a child's face, hugging a friend, laughing, singing, dancing, praying, or simply being in the silence and presence with a loved one. Where do you tap into your feeling of Joy and how do you express your Joy? 

A resource I recommend if you want to go deeper is the  Oprah & Deepak  21-Day Meditation "Expanding Your Happiness: Spark the Bliss Within and Experience True, Lasting Joy." Note especially Lessons # 1, #  8 and # 15. 

Another resource is my book, Be Happy NOW!: From Wall Street Ambition and the Illusion of Success, My Path to Happiness. I share my story, the personal challenges I have faced and the gradually awakening of awareness -- of consciousness, if you will. These are stories of letting go of my need to control, releasing my anger, learning how to forgive others and myself, and tapping into unconditional love for others and myself. The process outlined in Be Happy Now! was designed by my coauthor, David S. Prudhomme

We all have stories to share. I treasure all the stories you share with me. We are all learning -- and finding our way. Namaste.  

Once again, I am leaving you with more questions than answers – and that is because, quite simply – only you can discover your answers!

Please find some measure of comfort that you are not alone on this journey. We are all asking these questions. With the support of family, friends and coaches -- and faith --  I trust we are looking to the light of 2021 and new discoveries. I certainly am. 

In closing, I offer this lovingkindness meditation on Joy.  As Jack Kornfield, the author of this meditation, instructs us, once we feel the sense of intentional joy we are giving to this person, gradually open the meditation and our heart to include people we don't know, to difficult people -- "until you expend sympathetic joy to all beings everywhere, young and old, near and far."  This meditation is an excerpt from The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace, by Jack Kornfield, page 135.  

May you be joyful.
   May your happiness increase.
   May you not be separated from great happiness. 
   May your good fortune and the causes for your
oy and happiness increase. 

Till next time, stay well.  

May you be happy now and always


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