Joy does not require anything of us. It may come as a gift of conscious acceptance of what is or is not given, or it may come as an unexpected breeze that blows through us–the sigh of an angel looking benignly down upon us wishing us well. Joy cannot be bought or sold, yet it can be spread and shared as well as flow through or be bestowed upon us.
The seeds of joy grow easily in a grateful heart. The practice of gratitude is one of the most if not the most important of all spiritual exercises. When we remember to be grateful for whatever good we have, it will increase. When we are grateful even for that which is difficult for us to endure, it becomes easier to tolerate. As I accept what is given with gratitude it can reveal its lesson and its purpose in my life.
Joy, like happiness, is a byproduct of our attitude toward life. It cannot be sought, yet it can be cultivated. Joy essentially seeds itself in our lives when we feel good about ourselves and what we are doing. It is watered by love and fertilized by sharing. When I have good news, I can call my friends and tell them. When I feel joyful, I can smile at the world. It does not matter and I need not care whether anyone smiles back.
If I smile at the world without expecting anything back, I actually increase my returns because what goes around eventually returns to me. My joyous gift is made even more powerful because I have not looked for a payback of any kind. An unconditional gift generates a joy that opens my heart to a kinder, more loving energy that in turn increases my happiness.
Thicht Nhat Hahn the well known Zen Buddhist teacher suggests we smile often. He recommends a gentle, simple turn up of the corners of the mouth, a bud of a smile as he calls it. I can do this whether I feel like it or not at the time and it can bring joy to the heart regardless of the circumstances.
Joy does not need any special circumstances in order to manifest. Joy can come even in the midst of sorrow as a simple lift of my heart and the recognition that life goes on and I will too. As I am able to welcome change and all the potential it brings for my personal growth and happiness, I can also let go of the clouds of doubt that could obscure that potential.
Gratitude is like sunshine, blessing all it shines upon. Then as I am grateful for my blessings, the seeds of my joy grow and flourish. As I consciously work to accept with gratitude whatever gifts each day brings, I can discover these gifts for what they truly are: the lovely colors of my life woven into a tapestry threaded through and through with joy.