When I say the word “joy,” I can feel my heart bursting open.
“Joy” has long been one of my favorite words. When I was a tennis coach back in the ‘80s, I wrote a book called “The Joy of Tennis.” In the ‘90s, I founded a nonprofit called The Joy of Sports Foundation.
Recently, my co-leader, Ana Holub, and I were inspired to choose “Living in Joy and Balance” as the theme for the Mount Shasta Spiritual Adventure Retreat this August.
So, what does it take to live in joy?
For starters, here are three simple keys
Being in the Present
When I show up and bring my attention into the NOW, I feel joy because joy is the essence of what I AM.
In each moment, I have a choice of feeling this joy or being distracted or confused by my mind.
Sometimes, it’s helpful to do some planning. But, most of the time we spend thinking about the future isn’t useful planning. It’s unproductive speculating or worrying. There’s certainly no joy in this.
Occasionally, it’s useful to review a past event to learn the lessons from it. But, the vast majority of thinking we do about the past is at best a waste of time and often serves to trigger judgment of ourselves or others.
Commit to spending more time in the present. It will take strong intention and lots of patience since our habits of being distracted are so strong.
Every time you notice that you’re out of the present, be grateful for the awareness and bring attention back to NOW
Gratefully Receive Everything as a Gift
I believe that everything comes from one benevolent Source and is for our highest good.
Sometimes, we are offered a gift which reflects the beauty of our true nature. When we watch a beautiful sunset, look into the eyes of a dear friend, or smell a fragrant flower, our hearts naturally open in gratitude and joy.
The challenge, of course, is to still be grateful in the face of apparently adverse events. Our first instinct is often to close down. But, if we remember that these things, also, come from the one loving Source, they offer us an opportunity to meet parts of ourselves which need healing.
When we cultivate the ability to receive everything as a gift, our hearts stay open no matter what happens and we live in joy.
Follow Your Heart
Our hearts are filled with wisdom and will guide us wisely as we navigate through life.
Developing the habit of listening to and following your inner guidance is a huge key to living in joy.
The mind is a very useful tool. When we’re making a choice of whether to buy 6 bananas for $2 or 9 for $3.50, the mind can do a great job figuring out which is the better deal.
Life choices tend to much more complex than this. We’re often dealing with unknown variables such as other people’s responses or unpredictable events. In these cases, the mind comes up short.
To a large extent, our thoughts come from conditioning and fear. When we make life choices from our minds, rather than our hearts, we are often unconsciously playing out our early childhood conditioning.
One of the most important choices we make is what career to pursue. If we make that choice from our minds, we’ll likely pick something that is sensible and safe, but perhaps not very fulfilling.
If we follow our heart’s wisdom, we’ll tune into what we are truly here to do and find joy in our work/service.