You might be thinking, “how much joy is there in this world, right now?”
We’re watching Russia slaughter Ukrainians and must balance our nation’s response with our own self-preservation. We’re still managing life in a pandemic. A cable station pretends to be news and takes pride in inflaming and inciting a gullible audience. Moronic politicians have insulted and excoriated a judge so qualified for the position she’s up for she makes the last two appointees look like garage mechanics.
How can we possibly hold joy in a world like this?
Because it is entirely possible to hold two divergent emotions at the same time.
And if we don’t develop the ability to find moments of joy, even in the darkest times, our sadness will be soul-crushing.
I’m thinking about a friend who is terminally ill. She suffers incredible pain. She knows she is dying. And she feels deeply for the state of the world.
And yet, she still finds joy in her life.
I think about another friend who has been in constant discomfort for quite a long time. Joy is elusive.
While their situations are somewhat similar, I’m not sure what makes their attitudes and abilities so different.
Thinking also of the beautiful mamas I know who have lost their children. It’s hard to imagine anything worse. And yet, in time, they learn to find bits of joy in the other parts of their lives. A loving partner. A playful puppy. A soothing kitty. Meaningful work.
Life isn’t a rose garden, much as we wish it were, and we’re challenged to find our way through it.
I can only imagine how dispiriting it is to be unable access the joy in your life.
But. Finding the joy in our world while acknowledging the other side of things is a skill that we can develop.
Decades ago after a deep loss, my therapist at the time suggested I find some meaningful volunteer work. Her point was that by focusing on others, I might find perspective on my own situation. It worked.
Even as I go about the things that bring me happiness in my very fortunate life, I make sure our family is doing what they can for those in need. Big picture and little picture. My husband enthusiastically joins me in this effort. I’m not going to be shy about this. We do a lot with the blessings we have and we love doing it. We never forget what’s going on outside our little world and we feel a responsibility to help.
At the same time, we take every opportunity to enjoy ourselves, even more so after my husband’s recent cardiac scare (and procedure) a couple months ago.
Dual focus. It’s possible.
Sure, there are moments when, in the midst of deep enjoyment, the awful state of the world or a loved one comes to mind.
In those moments I ask myself what I’ve done that week to make a difference and if I haven’t?
I do something. However small. Instantly.
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