If we look beyond the excitement and exuberant version of joy that is widely promoted in our culture this time of year, there is another kind of joy we might discover – a quiet joy.
This kind of joy lives in the smaller, tucked-away corners of our moment-to-moment experience. It does not jump up or act loudly to capture our attention. Rather, it waits patiently and offers a gentle invitation. This kind of joy grows larger in our lives through generosity and compassion. It is an unselfish joy, or joy in the good fortune of others. Most importantly, it is a joy that is available to us in all seasons of our life.
Joy is not simply a miraculous occurrence, but something to be cultivated and developed. It may start out small as we notice joy waiting in the smaller corners of our lives, but with our careful attention it can grow into an ever-present touchstone as we navigate life.
Cultivating joy begins with generosity, fully witnessing or ‘seeing’ others, and expanding our awareness and practices of giving and letting go. Through this we may cultivate a heart that is open; a heart that moves out into the world. As we encourage this orientation of our heart, we naturally promote a mental state that is calm, free, fearless, and open to deep insight.
Take a moment to reflect on your understanding of joy and the role of joy in your life. Where is your attention? What truly makes you joyful? What is most important and meaningful? What is the orientation of your heart? How might you cultivate this quiet, yet steadfast joy through generosity and compassion?
This holiday season, we might choose to allow the pressured and perhaps less meaningful mainstream cultural messages to fall away and notice the quiet joy in our lives. With an open heart orientated toward generosity and compassion, we might be more mindful of the kind of footprint we are leaving upon the world in every moment and the kind of footprint we leave in our own hearts.
Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.
Visit us at lindquistpsych.com
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