A great book about finding joy through pain would be The Book of Joy, in which Douglas Abrams wrote about a week he spent interviewing the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The book was packed full of wisdom so valuable that I would read a few pages, set it down, journal, process, and proceed. The book chronicled two men who experienced a great deal of pain and suffering but found their joy in spite of, or because of the pain.
If you aren’t familiar with their stories, the Dalai Lama has been in exile, away from his country, his friends, and his family for more than 50 years. Archbishop Desmond Tutu experienced soul crushing violence and oppression as a result of racism and apartheid. Yet, they both found the tools to allow them to live a life full of laughter and joy. As I read, I just kept thinking that if these two men could come out of such horrendous conditions and experiences, with the ability to see the light and be the light, we all have within us the ability to grow as well. So, I will impart some of the lessons that I learned as I read.
If we live in a place where hurricanes are likely to occur, we don’t wait until the hurricane season is upon us to begin planning for our protection. Similarly, we know that life can be hard and we know that we will experience sadness, grief, and anger at times. So, we shouldn’t wait until we are deep in these emotions to begin planning for how to stay calm and find joy. We need to be preventative by learning to cultivate our minds through practice. By doing this, it is easier and we are more efficient in finding a state of calm or rationality when life gets hard.
There are multiple sayings in the Tibetan language about adversities turning into opportunity by shining light on happiness. For people who have experienced suffering, they are able to experience joy in an incredibly significant way. This sounds great, right? But, if you are suffering or you have suffered, the question is how do you actually see the joy on the other side of adversity?
To do this, it takes practice.
You practice experiencing joy by savoring the day to day moments that life presents; having a spiritual practice- prayer, meditation, yoga, connecting with nature; talking to yourself as though you are your own best friend; move your body. Little by little, by allowing yourself to feel joy in the mundane daily moments, you teach yourself to experience joy more regularly and in bigger ways.
Life can feel hard at times. Finding humor in life is important and can help us to deal with the unpredictability and challenges, and can deflate or defuse tense situations. Humor combined with humility can allow us to take ourselves less seriously and find the light in situations that we otherwise wouldn’t find funny. When you can laugh at yourself, you are also less malicious to other people.
“Humor really is the saving grace.”- Archbishop Desmond Tutu
My challenge to you this week is to find humor in life. For any challenging situation, consider how it would look from another angle and let yourself giggle a little.
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