Archive for the ‘Joy’ Category

Duty to Delight

Saturday, February 16th, 2019

Dorothy Day loved to quote Ruskin, who urged us all to the “Duty to Delight.” It was an admonition, really, to be watchful for the hilarious and the heartwarming, the silly and the sublime. This way will not pass again, and so there is a duty to be mindful of that which delights and keeps joy at the center, distilled from all that happens to us in a day.

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 148

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 29, 2016

Fed by Life

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

How can we know all this, yet somehow experience joy? Because that’s how we’re designed — for awareness and curiosity. We are hardwired with curiosity inside us, because life knew that this would keep us going even in bad sailing. We see the newborn energy of the universe most flagrantly in the sea and in the entire Jell-O-y wiggle of a baby. The universe expresses itself most showily as children, and it moves through children of all ages — your nephew, baby Jesus, and Ruth Gordon in Harold and Maude, shimmying at eighty in a cocktail dress. Life feeds anyone who is open to taste its food, wonder, and glee — its immediacy. We see this toward the end of many people’s lives, when everything in their wasted bodies fights to stay alive, for a few more kisses or bites of ice cream, one more hour with you. Life is still flowing through them: life is them.

— Anne Lamott, Almost Everything, p. 63

Photo: My nieces at the Chinese Garden, Portland, Oregon, February 1, 2019

Rejoice Always

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

If you’re unhappy now, don’t fret or feel guilty about it. Guilt and worry only perpetuate misery. Instead, be happy. Change your mind about the outrageous impracticality of this advice. If the Bible says “Rejoice always,” there must be something to it.

But you object: “I can’t be happy, because I’m sick,” or “I can’t be happy because my husband left me,” or “I can’t be happy, because I’m sad.” Don’t you understand? Happiness is the very weapon you need to surmount all these conditions. Happiness doesn’t come to those who sit around waiting until life gets better. Happiness comes to those who grab hold of its proffered hand in order to rise up and conquer their struggles.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 130

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, February 22, 2015

Expanded Present

Sunday, January 20th, 2019

In mindfulness, we are talking about a sense of an expanded present. Our protestations, our clinging to the past, our efforts to control the future may arise, but they are strongly attenuated by remembering to simply be with what is. We drop through our reactions to a space of profound, grateful connection – that is love of life itself. Always keep in mind that in reality, what we might have in this moment with a friend, with a place, with a dance, with a poem is the one more time. Treasure it.

— Sharon Salzberg, Real Love, p. 290

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 17, 2019

Generating Joy

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

The third element of true love is the capacity to offer joy. When you know how to generate joy, it nourishes you and nourishes the other person. Your presence is an offering, like fresh air, or spring flowers, or the bright blue sky.

— Thich Nhat Hanh, How to Love, p. 20

Photo: Centreville, Virginia, April 10, 2010

Joy Across the Street

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

Yet why are we so slow to appreciate, why do we even studiously ignore the very things that bring us deep joy? No doubt it’s because the moment we awaken to joy we feel (rightly) responsible to give it expression, to allow more opportunities for its release. This can be unsettling to our cherished routines. If driving in the country makes me happy, I may need to do more of it. If I love the colors of nature, why not spend more time looking? Do I esteem joy so little that I won’t cross the street to get some?…

Joy need not be sought outside of the lives we already have. No, it is right under our noses, often in the most ordinary experiences. If we spent the next year simply enjoying who we are and what we have, we’d be much further ahead than by striving for more. What we need most, more than something dramatically new, is a quiet realization of what already is.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 116

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 14, 2019

Returning to the Center

Sunday, January 13th, 2019

The more you take things personally, the more you suffer. You observe it, hold it up to the light, release it, and move on. One can choose to let suffering be the elevator to a heightened place of humble loving. You adjust the knot on the red string around your wrist and find your center again.

Humility returns the center of gravity to the center. It addresses the ego clinging, which supplies oxygen to our suffering. It calls for a light grasp. For the opposite of clinging is not letting go but cherishing. This is the goal of the practice of humility. That having a “light grasp” on life prepares the way for cherishing what is right in front of us.

— Gregory Boyle, Barking to the Choir, p. 105-106

Photo:  South Riding, Virginia, January 13, 2019

The Gratitude Channel

Friday, January 11th, 2019

The world is full of things to appreciate and find beautiful. The challenge is to teach ourselves how to look. The forgiveness and gratitude channels remind us that even though we have been hurt, we do not have to focus our attention on that hurt. The love and beauty channels remind us that in each and every moment we have the choice to determine what we see, hear, and experience.

The one thing no one can take from us is where we place our attention. In other words, we alone control our remotes. If we have made a habit of tuning in to the grievance channel, remember that any habit can be broken.

— Fred Luskin, Forgive for Goodp. 113

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 9, 2019

Loving as God Does

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

Our frightened selves want only for the gathered to like us, to agree with us, or be intimidated by us. I suppose Jesus walks into a room and loves what he finds there. Delights in it, in fact. Maybe, He makes a beeline to the outcasts and chooses, in them, to go where love has not yet arrived. His ways aren’t our ways, but they sure could be.

We have grown accustomed to think that loving as God does is hard. We think it’s about moral strain and obligation. We presume it requires a spiritual muscularity of which we are not capable, a layering of burden on top of sacrifice, with a side order of guilt. (But it was love, after all, that made the cross salvific, not the sheer torture of it.)

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 155

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 8, 2019

Surprises

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019

Instead of gripping tightly to a fixed idea of how things are and how they should be, we can train our mind to hold those notions lightly and begin each day ready to explore. We do not need to face the world demanding that it prove us right. Instead, we can say to it: Surprise me. We can become excited by the possibility that if we keep our eyes open, we open our hearts to something new. To have the kind of openness that cultivates awe does not mean we have to be credulous and sentimental, but the ironic stance – to act unimpressed because we fear looking foolish – has us experiencing our own lives at a distance. If, instead, we open our hearts to real love, we allow ourselves to feel the wonder of life, which research says is vital to sustaining our connection to the world and to one another.

— Sharon Salzberg, Real Love, p. 283

Photo: January 24, 2004, Sembach, Germany