“We can become either enabled or embittered. The difference lies in whether we are able to find meaning in our suffering.”
~ Archbishop Desmond Tutu
I highly recommend The Book Of Joy (Douglas Abrams), which expertly details the reunion of the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The amicable & loving conversations between the Christian archbishop and the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader parses out many topics in an entertaining way.
One of the most enlightening was the concept of joy. Counter-intuitively, joy does not come to you from having a life of ease. In fact, they find that those without difficulties actually complain more because they don’t have the perspective of what another life might be like. It’s the like the idea that if we didn’t have darkness, we wouldn’t have a concept of light.
As Author Abrams recognized, after listening to the incredible stories of hardship of these two men, “Joy it seemed, was a strange alchemy of mind over matter.” Ultimately, through adversity, we appreciate goodness more. To do this, our challenges need to be viewed as opportunity. Even if we can find just a thread of meaning or redemption in the situation, it will lead us in the direction of joy.
Sure, joy is a worthy goal – but how do we attain it in our daily round? Perhaps it’s as simple as the choice of creating the habit of shifting perspective. I find it takes many small decisions throughout the day. When a meeting gets rescheduled; when we don’t get the parking spot we wanted; when someone doesn’t behave as we feel they should… It takes conscious and persistent attention. Even just acceptance that this is the way it is would be a good starting point. (Soon, it will become a habit and not require so much attention) When done this way, most often, we can see that things have worked out to our advantage.
And remember, the Law of Attraction states that what we focus on, we receive more. I can always use just a little more joy, how about you?