While Bliss is the ecstasy experienced from direct Communion with God (such as disembodied souls feel all of the time), Joy is the daily manifestation of Bliss within all that we can experience when we are embodied here on Earth. Joy happens when we see Divinity all around us and within us.
Bliss is a natural state of our souls and a core way of being when in Communion with God. The feeling of Bliss is so powerful that is separates us from the practical world. Joy, by contrast, is “accessible Bliss” that we can experience in everyday life without being in the la-la land of “full blown spiritual ecstasy.” We really shouldn’t drive or operate heavy machinery while under the influence of Bliss. When we experience Joy, we can still function; Joy is functional Bliss. Joy is happiness. Joy is fun. Joy is play.
Joy can happen in the waiting room of the dentist office. Joy can happen while waiting in the cashier’s line at the grocery store. Joy can happen while sitting in a traffic jam. Joy can happen any time we open ourselves up to Communion in the moment as we recognize Divinity within us and all around us.
Joy happens when we remind ourselves: I am alive! I am breathing! It is a miracle!
Joy happens when we say “Namaste.” “Namaste” is a Sanskrit term commonly defined as: “The Divinity within me sees and honors the Divinity within you.”
Joy happens when we express Gratitude to the Divine or to others. With Gratitude, we join with others and can experience Joy.
Joy happens when we are giving and flowing with Generosity. When we give, we join with others as well.
Joy happens when we Nurture others as we join with them in their growth and healing.
Joy happens in Nature as we recognize Beauty and join with Divine creation.
Joy happens when we express our Creativity, live our Truth and allow Love to flow. We experience Joy in all forms of Communion.
With can permeate with just enough Joy so that we do not cross the threshold into Bliss and we can still function in this earthly realm.
With this type of Joy, or “accessible Bliss,” we have fun, laugh and play. We are in a good mood. We are content. These are symptoms of Joy that we want to catch!
Joy can be our consistent mood when we constantly recognize Divinity. Joy is the choice to change our mood by recognizing Divinity. Joy is a decision.
“The most important decision you make is to be in a good mood.” –Voltaire
Being Happy, Happy Being
With the Joy element, we are happy “just to be.” We do not have to strive for happiness. We need no toys. We need no props. We need no diversions. We need no reasons. We just are, so we can just be happy.
I have heard that happiness is the moment that exists right before some part of us wants something more than what we have at any given moment. With the element of Joy within us, we can be happy and content all of the time, in each moment, while we still seek to better live our Truth.
The Joy of this minute doesn’t rely on the betterment of the next minute.
True happiness is not outside of ourselves. It lies within; it is within where our Bliss and Divinity lies, accessible at all times.
“It is an inside job,” as they say─ no external validation necessary.
“Be Happy for no Reason. Reasons can be taken away.” -Lao Tzu
Excessively seeking happiness outside of ourselves is a sign that there is an absence of happiness inside of ourselves. We have become cut off from our own Bliss, which is always present. When we are cut off in this way, a futile, never-ending cycle of striving for happiness occurs— and this striving can never truly be fulfilled.
Searching for happiness outside of ourselves is a common form of insanity. It can be an addictive pursuit. We can easily find many objects of desire as well as diversionary activities that provide us with a false and fleeting sense of Joy. As soon as we are finished with one source of supposed satisfaction and the allure of it begins to fade, we are drawn to seek out our next form of external validation or temporary pleasure. We are in constant need of a “quick fix.” Sex, drugs, gambling and partying can fit the bill to fill this need until the side effects of these pursuits produce more misery than temporary Joy. At that point, our high-speed, pleasure-seeking lifestyle will inevitably collapse.
Pursuing other meaningless diversions like excessive T.V., gossip, and excessive time spent on social media can serve the same purpose as partying. It is a temporary diversion from the lack of Joy we feel inside. Cut off from the Divinity within, the ego naturally steps up to the plate and attempts to fill the void. In addition to the blatantly external pursuits mentioned above, we may pursue other fleeting and temporary methods of mood enhancement through image control and ego-stroking. (Indeed, some of those mentioned above, social media in particular, enable us to engage in this unhealthy behavior more frequently than in the past, when more time was spend truly “alone” or only in the presence of a few people.) By creating an image of power and success in the face of others through overachievement and material acquisition, the ego achieves temporary states of “Joy.” By propping oneself up or putting others down, a temporary buzz of what feels like validation can occur.
These motivations are often unconscious. Nonetheless, the insanity plays out in a constant state of underlying unhappiness, despite any external validation. The insanity of the chase lies in the fact that the only solution is to end it. By recognizing one’s own validity by virtue of one’s Divine nature, one can free themselves from false Joy and step into real Joy.
“Pleasure is just a shadow of joy. When there is no joy in you, you become a pleasure-seeker.” -Sadhguru
Joy Is Our Default Setting
Some can easily argue against Joy. After all, there is so much suffering in the world. How can we be Joyful when others are in so much pain? How can we be Joyful when we may also be suffering?
Joy does not seek a monopoly over, or a denial of, other emotions. Joy makes way for the free expression and movement of other feelings as they arise. Joy simply asks that we not wallow in them or attach ourselves to misery, pain, sorrow or victimhood. Whether we know it or not, Joy is set up as our emotional “default setting,” our natural way of being. After we process other emotions and let them move up and out of us, Joy is naturally what bubbles to the top of our consciousness. Remember, the root word of emotion is motion.
There are signs that tell us that our Joy default setting may be “faulty.” For example, we might live in a place of “woe is me”— a place of whining, complaining, joylessness and misery. Every day is a pity party; rarely is the bright side seen. Daily living seems like a chore and a punishment when we are in this state.
We may actually feel afraid to release our attachment to this victim mindset because of the uncertainty that doing so will bring up for us. We may not be accepting of the changes inherent in life. If this happens, it means that we have work to do in regards to Non-attachment, Healing, releasing emotions, embracing uncertainty, accepting Change and recapturing the Wonder and Optimism of a child-like mind. We can use our Freewill to help us direct our mindset accordingly.
By facilitating Joy, we are choosing mystery over mastery. When we strive for mastery, we want answers to all the tough questions that haunt and hamper us. One question that individuals striving for mastery may ask is: “Why do bad things happen to good people and good things happen to those who are bad?”
With mystery, we accept the “greater plan.” We take the long-term perspective. We focus on our own behavior, yet we don’t condone the harmful behavior of others. We hold others, and ourselves, accountable without feeling hopeless. We don’t let situations or the behaviors of others steal our Joy. We know that Divinity reigns.
Common Obstacles to Joy
Below is a list of the most common obstacles to experiencing Joy. Have you participating in any of these thought patterns or actions? Many of these obstacles can be cleared away by a simple change of perception and by choosing Joy over fear:
- Deferring our Truth in order to be “Practical;”
- Searching for happiness outside of yourself;
- Listening to and believing other people’s opinions of how you “should” be;
- Being afraid to be yourself and displease others;
- Keeping up with the Joneses;
- Attempting to control all outcomes of your endeavors;
- Participating in addictive patterns such as alcohol and drug abuse, overeating, excessive media or co-dependence;
- Judging others;
- Holding grudges;
- Avoiding the Healing work that may remove limiting beliefs and avoiding processing residual emotions that may lead to Forgiveness and/or the release of shame; and
- Forgetting your Divine nature— thinking of yourself as a meaningless individual entity instead of a crucial piece of a much larger whole.
Common Joy Enhancers
On the other end of the spectrum, these are some things you can do and ways you can be in order to enhance your Joy every day. As you read through these items, consider how you can apply them to your life in a meaningful way:
- Living your Truth;
- Being yourself and standing in your Truth, even if it displeases others;
- Engaging in wholesome play that creates awe and childlike Wonder;
- Slowing down in life in general;
- Feeling and honoring your emotions as they occur;
- Music, dance, Creativity and self-expression;
- Learning how to “just be”;
- Self-care, exercise and movement of Body;
- Expressing intimacy, kissing, connecting and feeling your own sensuality;
- Giving, being grateful and Serving others;
- Being in Nature, enjoying Nature’s bounty and protecting Nature;
- Consorting with the Divinity within yourself and others and remembering your true essence;
- Laughing─ with no harm intended, laughing at yourself and at life. Laugh every day!
“Whenever you have the chance, laugh as much as you can. By this, all the rigid knots in your body will be loosened. But to laugh superficially is not enough; your whole being must be united with laughter, both inwardly and outwardly. Do you know how this is to expressed? You literally shake with merriment from head to foot; so that it is impossible to tell which part of your body is most affected. I want you to laugh with your whole countenance, with your whole heart and with all the breath in your life.” -Sri Anandamayi Ma
Joy is an Earthly expression of Bliss, our Divinity and living our Truth on a practical basis every day.
Joy is directly supported by Acceptance and Non-Attachment. These elements facilitate Joy by taking us out of resistance to what is, away from attachment to misery and into the Now.
Healing removes obstacles to Joy. As we Heal ourselves, we heal others and bring ourselves closer to Joy.
Love and Light serve to energize Joy. Love keeps Joy warm and Light keeps us Light-weight and fluffy, setting the table for Joy.
Freewill helps us to reset ourselves so that Joy is our natural “default setting.”
Being present in Nature automatically elicits Joy.
The Body can elicit Joy through movement, dance, a smile or laughter.
Wisdom sees Joy as a form of itself. Being Joyful is a wise way to live. Alternatively, when we are in Joy, our Intuitive Wisdom naturally rises to the top of our consciousness.
Gratitude, Generosity, Nurturance, Wonder, Service and Creativity help to cultivate Joy in our lives as well.
- Know and live your Truth (see element, page xx).
- Engage in creative pursuits, including listening to music, making music, dancing, drawing, painting, writing, poetry, acting, chanting, sculpting…the possibilities are endless! What is one fun thing you have always wanted to do? Go out and do it in order to bring more Joy to your life.
- Make a “feel good” playlist. They should be songs that make your soul dance within your Body (for example, old school funk music is my “feel good” music of choice).
- Go fly a kite. Literally.
- Play with small children, and follow their lead. If you don’t have kids, borrow some. Ask friends or relatives if you can watch their kids some time. More than likely, they won’t pass up the chance for a free babysitter.
- Select some method of Body movement to integrate into your life on an ongoing basis, i.e. dancing, yoga, tai chi, or ecstatic dancing.
- Select a place in Nature nearby your home that elicits Joy for you. Integrate time alone in this place as part of your weekly routine.
- Practice Mindfulness as a way of tracking when you are in Joy and when you are attached to misery in some way. Explore ways that you may be attached to misery or are identified with victimhood. Get professional help to let these patterns go if needed.
- Find Joy in community. Gather with others who find Joy in the same way you do.
I Know Who I Am; I Know My True Essence, Divine.
I Am Permeated with Joy; Joy is My Basic Nature.
I Invite Joy Into My Body; I Invite Joy Into My Life.
I Am Laid Back Fun. I Am Joy.
I Accept All That Is; Let My Heart Return to Joy.
I Choose Joy; I Choose Play; I Choose Love; Let My Soul Dance Inside My Body. (inspired by Dele Olanubi).