• Sandy Reynolds

Reclaiming Advent Week 3: JOY

Updated: Dec 13, 2019

Have you ever noticed how often you see the word 'JOY' at this time of year? It pops up on ornaments, in songs, in advertisements and, of course, on wrapping paper. That last one might be a little misleading. Joy can't be bought. But good news - it can be cultivated. Most of what I talk about on Reframe Your Life this week has been heavily influenced by The Book of Joy. The book was written by Douglas Abrams based on a week he spent with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It’s a delightful book that brings together two of our world’s great spiritual leaders to talk about joy. It would be a great gift for anyone on your Christmas list. I won't give you the full recap of the podcast here. I will tell you that joy is deeper than happiness. It is unrelated to our circumstances. And you need to change your mindset if you want it in your life. In The Book of Joy, the authors share The 8 Pillars of Joy. These are spiritual practices to develop to help you become more joyful in your life. They are:

1. Perspective – Look at your situation from several different perspectives. What would it look like in a week, in five years, in ten years? What does it look like to someone who loves you? What other way could you look at the situation?

2. Humility – We are all connected. Remember that you are one of many on this planet. We share a common bond in our humanity. Life is not just about you.

3. Humor - Don’t take yourself so seriously. Laugh at yourself and your situation. Laughter is a great stress reliever.

4. Acceptance – You need to accept reality. And sometimes you need to do a reality check. It’s part of the reframe your life model. What do you need to accept in your life? Is there something you feel shame about? Is there something you are avoiding facing?

5. Forgiveness – Forgiveness doesn’t mean accepting wrong doing. It is separating the actor and action. People are accountable for what they have done to us. Unforgiveness can be a barrier to joy. Forgiving allows you to move forward. Is there someone you need to forgive?

6. Gratitude – Make it a part of your daily routine to practice gratitude.You could do it when you wake up, before you eat or before you go to sleep. Find time to list all the things you have to be grateful for in you life.

7. Compassion – In the book A Fearless Heart: How the courage to be compassionate can transform our lives, Jinpa writes, "Compassion is a sense of concern that arises when we are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to see that suffering relieved. Compassion is what connects the feeling of empathy to acts of kindness, generosity, and other expressions of altruistic tendencies.” Who can you help today?

8. Generosity – In Buddhist teachings there are three kinds of generosity: material giving, giving freedom from fear (which can involve protection, counselling, or solace) and spiritual giving, (which can involve sharing wisdom, moral and ethical teachings and helping people to be more self-sufficient and happier.) You can have nothing material to offer someone but you can still be generous. The bottom line? Joy comes from looking outside yourself. It's recognizing that you are part of a bigger story, being grateful for all you receive, being compassionate and generous, laughing at your own flaws and failings, and accepting the reality of your life. This weekend light a candle and consider which of these eight pillars you want to focus on in your life. Pick one to start. It will change your life more than any gift under your tree.

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