Strange how some days, things just open us up. We could be walking down the street and suddenly find ourselves struck by the play of light on the side of a building. Or stopped by the scent of coffee, freshly ground. Our energy just stops in those moments and our hearts open a crack. We become available to the joy of life.
Other days, not so much. These are the days when we scroll social media, or find our way to the fridge to try to feel better. We know strategies like this don't work, but what to do? Where do we find joy when we don't feel joyful?
In a newsletter years ago I made a list of some things can can soften the heart. Here are a few of them:
- Stroking a dog, cat or loved one.
- Appreciating a delicious food.
- Lighting a candle for a departed friend.
- Letting music or art fill us.
- Remembering a kindness.
Notice how these are all actions. This is important:
- I'm not taking a picture of the dog, I am stroking her.
- I'm not evaluating the music. I'm listening to it.
- Appreciating a delicious food is, literally, enjoying it. En-joy-ing.
- Remembering a kindness isn't mental exercise. Like the word itself says, we are re-membering it.
We are taking it into the body, incorporating it and letting the energies infuse us. The heart may be sad when lighting the candle, but the softening and allowing opens us to a deeper underlying joy.
The "stopped" part of this is important too. While walking in the forest my mind was going a mile a minute. Knowing I was working on this story, I thought "Ok. A real world example." So I stopped. "How do I soften when the mind is just running on and on and on? And on?" I took a breath and relaxed. I listened. Not to specific sounds. I just listened to allow the sounds into my very cells and nerves and body processes.
In stopping, I let down my guard. I relaxed. My heart softened.
The way to live more joy is to, well, to live more joy. I might be all stressed out by something, but if you plunked a puppy into my lap, my world would right itself.