Practice: Joy

by Max Rohde,

Joy is what makes the little moments in our life worthwhile. We may play a game, we may laugh with friends, we may dance, or draw or swim; any of the things nature has allowed us to find pleasure in. We need this joy and it is a great source of strength for us.

In Buddhism joy is known as one of the four immeasurables along with compassion, love and equanimity. If we embrace these states of mind, we may become happier, wiser and bring more good to the world around us.

We have a natural ability to experience joy and to practice joy is less about mindfully seeking it and more about letting loose of the restraints modern life and adulthood place upon us.

We have many reasons not to experience joy. We are too tired, too stressed. We don't have enough time. We are too serious a person to play or be silly. Therefore the practice to embrace joy in our lives is twofold:

  1. We need to think about what are the underlying factors preventing us from experiencing joy and how we may overcome them.
  2. Whenever joy finds us naturally in our lives, we need to embrace it fully and not feel guilty or be distracted by other obligations in our lives.

While the other practices lend themselves to be practised regularly, the practice of joy is something which needs to be woven into our everyday lives. As such, to not loose track of our commitment to joy, it may be good to schedule regular 'joy reviews' where we assess how we are tracking in bringing joy into our lives.

Image credit: The Roses of Heliogabalus

Categories: buddhismpsychology