Life should be many things for all of us, but it should seldom be boring. A life full of learning and sharing is never boring.
Life is its own reward. Having life itself, life being such a miraculous achievement, is like winning the grand prize. Being alive, just being alive, makes us winners. The rest is up to us. Finding the joy in life is worth everything.
Joy… Maybe the letters stand for “Just Open Yourself.” Joy does not come with a movie career, a sports contract, a glamorous penthouse or a Mediterranean yacht. Joy comes when we practice the ability to think in new directions. It comes when we stretch our experiences. It comes when involved ourselves with new ideas and new people. Joy comes when we generate a happy, expectant attitude. Most of all, joy comes when we practice feeling joyful.
Today is filled with opportunities for success, adventure, and wonder. If you knew this would be your last day of life, how precious it would become in your eyes. How full of wonder and beauty it would appear. How dearly you would think of the ones you would be leaving. How much joy you would find in that last day! You would want to enjoy every last second of your life to the fullest. But today is not your last day, after all. With luck you’ll have many of these wonderful, joyful days.
Laughter and Joy
Humor is a special kind of joy. Humor often results from a peculiar and unexpected insight, a cleverness that takes us by surprise. Along with humor comes laughter, the physical release of the tension involved with the joke, the incongruous juxtaposition of two ideas, the unexpected pratfall. When you are surprised by the things around you, they seem funny.
Laughter gives us a mental release from stress and boost our mood. Laughter is very good medicine, since it is as easy pill to swallow and has no harmful side effects. Laughter releases the endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers and gives a sense of well-being. It improves our health, as surely as a good diet, exercise and not smoking. Laughing connects us with other people, it gives us perspective about life, it replaces worry with pleasure, it changes our mood and increases energy. It just feels good. Finding the humor in every situation is one way to build Joy.
Do you still have a toy box? At one time you probably had a toy box full of good things, things to build, things to pretend, things to hug, things to solve, things to draw, things to read. What are your grown-up toys? What toys would give you joy today? What makes you happiest? It might be painting, or collecting, or running trains or throwing balls. It might be writing stories, or hosting tea parties, or riding bicycles. The things we did as children, the activities that made us happiest, will bring us joy again today. We haven’t changed so much as all that. Make room for lots of playtime in your grown-up world.
Music and Dance
Rhythm is natural to us, whether it is the beat of the heart, or the cycles of the seasons. Add music to your day, so that the tempo and rhythm can bring joy to you. Let your favorite music wash over you, lifting you into its emotion. If you feel like dancing, let yourself dance. Dance to the beat of your own drummer. If you feel like singing, let yourself sing. Sing and dance spontaneously and you’ll welcome joy into your day. You always have a song inside of you waiting to be given breath. Let it out into the daylight.
“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of the buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” These were the last words of the Blackfoot warrior named Crowfoot, a man who surely knew how to find joy.
There was a piano player in a bar, a good pianist with a loyal following. One night a customer asked him to sing a song, but the piano player replied, “I don’t sing.” The customer insisted, loud and long, until the bartender called out, “Hey, buddy! The customers are asking you to sing! If you want to get paid, sing a song.”
So the piano player, who had never sung in public, started singing. He sang “Mona Lisa” that night in the bar. His name was Nat King Cole. Except for a quirk of fate, his talent would have been lost to the world. Instead, he went on to become one of the most famous entertainers of all time.
You have many abilities that you don’t give yourself credit for. Expressing yourself in music, dance, writing, or other activities, opens your life to joy. You’re better than you think.
A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace… -Abraham Maslow, psychologist
Love and Joy Travel Together
Bring love into your life. If you are still searching for the right one, still sleeping single in a double bed, broaden your horizons and open your eyes to new possibilities. When you meet new people, forget about judging and evaluating them according to your “must-have”, “must-be” standards. Bend the critical rules you play by, and instead of avoiding people who don’t measure up at first glance, look deeper into their eyes, listen harder to what they say and take them into your life as new friends. Practice being a good friend. Show sincere interest, affection and a willing attitude. Then spend time widening your circle of friends. Love is not something you order out of a catalog. It comes when you least expect it. So slow your life down a little, spend time with friends, and let love catch up with you. With love comes more joy, new and fresh and unbelievably satisfying.
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