Deborah is a writer, healer, and teacher. Her goal is to help people live their best lives every day by sharing her joy and love of life.
You Have a Choice
We All Experience Pain
We have each had our share of pain. Physical pain, emotional pain, trauma, sickness. Everyone has pain, but not everyone suffers.
During the pandemic that began in 2020, many people experienced a variety of pain. The physical pain of sickness, the emotional pain of isolation, loss, anxiety and fear. The pain of losing a loved one. The pain of losing a job, a home, or a friend. The list goes on forever, of the many pains suffered throughout our lives.
How do some people get through painful experiences without losing their joy? This article help you discover three tools to experience joy, rather than suffering, in the face of pain.
You Must Choose Again
The first step to choosing joy and releasing suffering seems too simple to be effective.
You control how you feel. No one can steal your joy, unless you give them your power. Instead of allowing other's dictate how you feel, you can reclaim your personal power and choose joy.
But wait, you might think. You don't understand me. My partner, spouse, parent, teacher, boss (fill in the blank) makes my life completely miserable. He/she/they are always yelling at me, belittling me, punishing me (fill in the blank)
My----- is always-----to me, and I have no choice.
Stop right there. Let's turn this ship around. Stop focusing on the situation, the person or the pain that you are feeling and take a moment to do a mental inventory.
What are you grateful for? While you ponder that list, get outside and move around. Even during a pandemic, in most places, it is possible to get outside, get some fresh air and move your body. As you walk, look around you and notice the trees, the sky, the earth. Express your gratitude for the greatness of life surrounding you.
According to a 2020 article by the American Psychological Association, Nurtured By Nature, spending time in nature improves cognitive functioning, mood, mental health, and emotional well-being. Get outside and remind yourself that you are not a victim of your life.
Once you've gotten outside and moved your body, decide to choose again. Maybe you live at home and your parents are mean. Or maybe you live alone and suffer fear and anxiety. Maybe your job is stressful. Or maybe you don't even have a job right now. How in the world can you be joyful with all that stress in your life?
The truth is, lots of people have difficult parents, partners, bosses and friends. Lots of people have stressful jobs. And unemployment continues to grow. So how can you choose joy, when you live in a stressful world?
According to an article published by Harvard Medical School, Choosing Joy During Difficult Times, choosing joy comes down to two key factors: Your attitude and your actions.
The article describes your happiness quotient and improving it through several steps, including: acknowledging difficult feelings, reframing situations more positively, expressing gratitude, being kind and generous to others and cultivating a sense of humor.
When you change your attitude and actions, and remind yourself that you are not a victim of your life, but the creator of your reality, then you can choose joy once again.
Do Something Good Today
The second step to choosing joy and releasing suffering is to help someone else.
There are many excuses for not helping others. I don't have time. I don't know who to help. I don't know how to help. I have nothing to offer. The pandemic shut down all the volunteer opportunities. There is nothing available in my town.
You can do good, where you are, with what you have right now.
If nothing else, start by praying for everyone you know. A simple loving-kindness prayer goes like this: May "this person" feel peaceful happy and light. May they be safe and free from injury. May they be free from anger, affliction, fear and anxiety. Pray this prayer for every single person you know, for every person in your family even if you don't like them (especially if you don't like them), for every person in your town, your state and your country. Pray this prayer of loving kindness for every person on this planet. It is free. It is simple. It changes the vibration of the planet. It helps you feel joyful and release suffering. Start with yourself, then pray for every sentient being.
Taking it a step further, how about if you write a note to someone? Maybe start with your family and people you love. Maybe you could leave a random note of appreciation for the barista at the coffee shop you frequent. Maybe an anonymous note of gratitude for a co-worker. There are endless possibilities for notes to write, and you don't even have to mail it. Slip it under the door or leave it on a desk or counter.
There are countless ways to serve another human being, which cost nothing but time. Try smiling and holding the door for someone. You could shovel walks or rake leaves or mow lawns for an elderly neighbor or a single mom.
Volunteer at a senior center, day care, school, or hospital. There are lots of jobs you could do.
A 2012 study on volunteering and health impacts found a connection between volunteering and positive psychological effects, such as optimism, happiness and life satisfaction.
When you help others, you help yourself choose joy.
A Beautiful Reminder
This Present Moment
There is no Other Time
The third and final step to embracing joy and releasing suffering is to live in this present moment. There is no other time than now.
Stop what you're doing a close your eyes (after you finish reading the instructions!)
Place you feet firmly on the ground.
Take a deep breath, in through your nose for four counts, pause, exhale eight counts. Do it again. Repeat this relaxation breath until you feel grounded, peaceful and calm.
Remind yourself that in this moment, you are safe.
Now you are here. There is no other moment. In this moment you are free to choose joy. You don't have to wait to feel joy. You don't need to suffer. In this moment, turn your heart and mind to joy. Just for this moment. Don't worry about the next moment or the next one after that. Instead, allow a smile to softly come to your lips, say thank you, and choose joy. In this moment, that is enough.
As you go about your day, stay present. Don't allow fear to thrust you forward into the future. Don't let regret tug you back into the past. In this moment, no matter what is happening externally, choose joy.
Now is the time of your greatest joy.
Your Spirit is Unstoppable
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Deborah Demander