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This is the second in a two part series on pain, joy, and how we can have less of one and more of the other.
Anytime there’s an injury, a heartbreak, a failure in your job, in your health, etc, what do we do? We start asking:
Why did this happen to me?
This, I think, is an existential human problem, one that strikes almost everyone at some point or another. Through spiritual practice you might be able to minimize the “Why me?’ moments so that you only feel them with big things, like, a serious disease or a giant tax bill, and not say, when you’re stuck in traffic on the interstate.
Secondly we start to ask:
How could this have happened?
We do this because our lizard brains know that if we don’t notice how this bad thing happened, it might happen again. It all goes back to the bad berries, you know?
What kind of berries were those? Where did I find them? Why did I think they were safe to eat?
And we apply this to everything: What kind of person was that boss or ex? How did I meet them? Why did I think it was a good choice to work for them/date them? What happened to make everything fall apart?
What can I do differently next time to make sure it doesn’t happen again?
And yet JOY seems like an anathema. Like, how did that happen??
We tend to think that joy is random. Impostor syndrome, anyone?
This week, consider that we may have more control over bringing joy into our lives than we give ourselves credit for. Even if you don’t think that’s factually true, do a thought experiment this week where you pretend it is.
When joy happens, notice where you are, who you’re with and what you’re doing. Can these circumstances be recreated?
Your homework this week is to actively go out of your way to cultivate some small moments of joy.
It doesn’t have to be elaborate. My personal example is that I know if brings me joy to be outside in the morning, so I can cultivate joy by sitting on the front stoop to drink my cup of tea rather than lounging on the couch with my phone.
Imagine if we applied the same level of scrutiny and over-analyzing that we bring to our painful moments to our joyful experiences.
How much happier might you be?
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