Archive for the ‘joy’ Tag

Observing urges

To continue this rumination on joy, I must clarify a little.  There’s a vast difference between happiness and joy, for instance.  I think we can manufacture little sources of momentary happiness for ourselves, but joy is an encounter of entirely different dimensions.  Joy is a wellspring which, once located, eternally feeds us.

We traditionally use religion as the vehicle towards our joy, but these old standbys have crumbled in the past few decades, their mores and promises have proven unhelpful in our time.  Many Americans have substituted financial success for joy, and abandoned the search for anything more meaningful.  Certainly, the demise of organized religion is the biggest difference between us and our ancestors.  Without it, we must individually re-invent our joy.

The first step in the journey is calming the mind, releasing your clutch on everyday tensions.  You must allow the possibility that you are not in control, and open wide to the instructions from the universe, which can be subtle, whispered hints.  You must cultivate your sensitivity so that you can hear the directives.

Note that this is not about some new religion; the instructions from the universe are instructions from your inner self, and the ‘being still’ that I recommend has to do with transcending the petty details of society and conditioning so that we may glimpse a larger reality.

So the technique I want to share today comes from the theater, from an exercise we used to do in rehearsing improv.  It’s called ‘urging.’  Four or five of the group stand within a marked-out ‘stage.’  There is one directive:  move only when you must, move according to your deep urges.  The spectators watch as the ‘actors’ begin to explore their urges.  Some move frenetically, others do not move at all.  The door to authenticity begins to give. 

You can do this in any quiet moment, if such moments exist in your life.  Be still, and then observe your urges.  Let whatever you discover inform you; it is sacred information.

Serious business

‘Round these parts, Christian churches of every stripe still sport roadside signs with changeable lettering, offering challenges to passers-by that are often corny but now and then actually inspiring.  The one I spied yesterday gave me a handle on thinking about doing business in these questionable times.

“The serious business of heaven,” it said, “is joy.”

This remarkable statement points to several things.  For one thing, grounded as we are in material greed, we seldom think of serious business and joy as having any relation at all.  These human experiences exist poles apart in our accustomed perspective.  For another, the statement suggests that heaven is involved in a continuing purpose, and not simply out there gloating.  And most importantly, the idea opens up to us the possibility that, like heaven, we can make joy our own serious business.

Possibly, this is the change we are beginning to realize.  Maybe the economic deflation can help us to reorient our purposes.  What if, as you go through your work day, you take the creation and realization of joy as your sole inspiration?  What if we learn to measure success by the quality of our emotions?  What if the richest person is the one who spreads the most joy?

Of course, changing to a new standard is a complex thing.  We’ve been so oppressed by the almighty dollar that most of us seldom experience natural joy.  We may be hard pressed to define it.  We may mistakenly think that material abundance equals joy, because we’ve never ventured beyond our lust and cravings.  To move to a standard of joy is to undertake a vision quest, to commit to nothing less than perfection.

So the question becomes, how can I find my joy?  Where do I look, and how do I recognize it?  How do I pay the bills if my focus is on joy and not on money?  These are certainly practical considerations, and I intend to study them here over the next few weeks.  My writings are often heavily philosophical, and it’s likely that readers seek more specificity.  I know I do.  The bigger picture always comes clear to me far before the details emerge; but plans mean nothing unless they’re implemented.  So I invite you to tag along with me as we ferret out the means by which we can re-invent the meaning of commerce in our turbulent world.

Practicing delight

One of the symptoms of depression is an inability to enjoy things that previously used to delight you.  The healthy, natural way is to be susceptible to the charms of at least some things in life.  Something most people don’t consider, however, is that the capacity for delight – like intelligence – can be cultivated and enlarged.

As we reach adolescence and then adulthood, I believe each of us should exercise our ability to be delighted.  The seriousness of growing up and joining the business world would seem contrary to this directive, and indeed, for the most part, we do not encourage such lighthearted development.  And what we end up with is a paranoid, oppressed, and underproductive workforce. 

How is delight cultivated?  Practice, of course.  Such daily activities as focusing on the tiny things that please you, allowing yourself to dwell on any encounter you may have with beauty, taking the time to thoroughly appreciate a good meal, a thoughtful gesture, a clever solution; all these kinds of practices will increase your capacity for enjoyment.

We can dwell in bliss if we set our energies to it!