“We are joy. There’s nothing you need to do, to be joyful. Just allow it and be.”
I see these sorts of statements made in psuedo-spiritual self-help circles, and I think: Well, yes, sort of. Except–some people actually need to “do” something in order to get themselves out of their suffering, and in touch with their joy.
Some of us need to actually be real about whether or not we’re making poor choices that are adding up to a poor quality of life. 12-step groups ask their members to take a personal inventory, and then practice the integrity to make an amends.
In other words, we need to make joyful choices, in order to experience joyful living.
Joy doesn’t “happen to” you. It’s not out there, floating around in the ether, waiting to land. Nor is it something you can wring your hands to get, trying to be perfect and make all of the perfect choices.
Joy is cultivated.
Making Joyful Choices
“Being at one with what is doesn’t mean you no longer initiate change or become incapable of taking action,” writes Eckhart Tolle, in A New Earth, and later he describes the concept of “awakened doing.”
“Awakened doing is the alignment of your outer purpose–what you do–with your inner purpose–awakening and staying awake.” –Echkart Tolle
He describes how people in the state of “awakened doing” are, in fact, active. They’re making choices that cultivate joy. Those choices include bringing oneself back to presence or practicing/choosing acceptance of what-is. Not attaching to a result? Also helpful.
Overwork and over-commitment, numbing out with substances (including excessive caffeine, sugar, or wine), a constant litany of judgments that block you from seeing the good, making choices that keep you from being well-rested…all of these are the equivalent of pouring battery acid on the soil, creating conditions where it’s pretty much impossible for life to thrive.
How often do we make choices that make it nearly impossible for joy to thrive?
We connect to the joy within us when we make choices that are conducive to cultivating joy. Often, those choices have to do with releasing the things that get in the way of the joy.
Joy doesn’t happen “over there.”
Joy doesn’t arrive after you’re “fixed.”
Joy isn’t what you get after you’re “good enough.”
But it also isn’t something that you’re likely to experience if you aren’t willing to take responsibility for your experience.
We can love the ethos of statements such as “You are joy.”
We also need to reconcile our lives and our choices so that we’re fully open to experience it.