Claiming our JOY

In the last Insight, I wrote about Claiming our Strengths.  We are now going to look at Claiming our Joy.  If you have taken the opportunity to introspect, recognize and accept your strengths and gifts, you are already well on your way to Claiming your Joy.        

In a recent chat with some friends, we were talking about what does one need to feel happy and content with their lives.  What is the one thing without which we cannot live joyfully?  Some said health, others mentioned abundance, some spoke of love.  

The truth is, we need all of these.  You need good health to enjoy what life has to offer to Your full potential.  You need abundance to enjoy what life has to offer to Its full potential. And you need a Loved One to share the joy of life with - One who brings the greatest joy to you through their companionship - in whose presence you are inspired to be your best and transcend all your limitations - whether that person be from a romantic relationship, your child, a family member or a friendship. 

So we need all 3 - health, abundance, love.  We are constantly trying to juggle our lives to achieve all these 3 in a balance that makes us most happy - simultaneously or in phases.  Some of us aspire towards more personal goals and achievements - like winning a marathon, helping the community in some form (e.g. through charity or helping the less privileged), creating something new - and find our fulfillment in this.

So where does happiness and peace really come from? If the source is the same for all, why doesn't every individual find an equal measure of satisfaction from the same external source? Why does chocolate ice cream give me more satisfaction while strawberry ice cream gives more satisfaction to another?  Why is winning a marathon meaningless to one while it is the height of achievement to another, and owning a skyscraper couldn't mean any less to a villager of simple needs living amidst the pristine beauty of the Himalayan mountains?  

Obviously then joy has little to do with the external, once we take health, abundance and love into account.  And even these 3 are sought after in different measure by different people. One thing common to all however, is Desire.  Our Desires vary according to our external circumstances and internal aspirations, and for each person that composition is unique.  And it is something that arises within, not without.  You cannot tell a person what they can desire and what they can't - though most of the world's marketing and advertising oriented media attempts to influence exactly that.  As long as what the person desires and acts upon is not contrary to the well being and liberty of those around them (which is why we have laws in place), they can desire absolutely anything they choose, and act upon it.  

Desire is nothing but thought fulfilled through action.  From the inception of a thought until its culmination in action - is desire.  Desire in itself is neutral.  It is the Intent behind that desire that can lead to evolution or fall.  By evolution or fall, I mean it can either lead us to grow and fulfill our potential, or lead us on a path that creates more sorrow in our lives.

Every time we desire some thing, and decide to achieve (an ideal), experience (pleasure) or possess (an object) it, we feel agitated and propelled to act until we do so.  And when we do, there is that momentary sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.  It is only momentary - until the next desire pops up its head and consumes our attention.  And so it goes on.  

If our attempts at fulfilling our desire meets with success, we feel temporary joy and then we move on to fulfill our next desire.  If our attempts encounter obstacles, we tend to feel anger.  And if we do succeed in accomplishing our desire, many of us fear losing what we have achieved.  

So if the fulfillment that comes from a desire when it is accomplished is temporary, how do I find permanent fulfillment?  Is it possible to feel fulfilled permanently, without depending on external outcomes?  The answer is a 100% YES, absolutely.

If the joy of achievement comes from within, then that joy must have already existed within in the first place ! It is because I decided my joy depends on an external outcome, and attached to it, that I gave away my power to the outcome to determine how I feel about myself.  Every one of us wants to be happy.  We feel we can only be Whole and feel adequate once we achieve this, that and the other.  We seek to feel loved and gain approval of the world we live in, based on standards set by the society we live in - friends, family, media - so we can fit in and feel accepted.  

What if I set my own standard on what it takes to be happy?  And live without comparison or competition. People fear as soon as you remove the word "competition" from the equation, it leads to people sitting on their behinds being couch potatoes, and creates great inefficiency in society.  But does it?  What if I choose to live in co-operation instead of competition, set my own standard on what I need to make me happy, and trust that I am inspired enough to achieve my full potential and so is every person around me - and we can all do it together? Something to ponder... 

Coming back to the source of Joy, if I choose not to attach my happiness to the outcome of anything I undertake, and choose to feel happy anyway irrespective of the outcome, taking things and happenings in my stride - then I have chosen my true State of Being at all times.  The fountain of Bliss lies within me.  I can set goals, walk the path to achieving them and succeed in doing so, if I am happy before I even begin.  To be happy means to be in a space of quiet calm and peace, free of agitation, serene and centered in the core of my being.  

To illustrate the efficiency of being independently joyful, let's take an example.  If I encounter a challenge in life, and feel my sense of self worth depends on the outcome of how I face this challenge, I will likely be driven by the desire to succeed and prove myself to myself and others.  With this attitude, if I succeed, it will probably boost my ego.  If I fail, I will likely feel less about myself and feel afraid to try again.  My mind will be driven by the fear of being seen as less.    

On the other hand, if I feel relaxed and at ease with myself when I face the challenge, I am more likely to succeed because my mind won't be driven by fear.  If I succeed, I will feel happy, but probably won't let it get to my head because I never attached my value to it in the first place.  If I don't succeed, I will take it in my stride and try again without fear or shame of failing again, seeing it as bringing me one step closer to my goal.  I Empower Myself.

From a child's perspective, he/she will feel more secure knowing his/her parents love him/her no matter what, irrespective of his/her accomplishments.  That doesn't mean discipline is unnecessary and moral values need not be cultivated.  It just means appreciation and encouragement go a long way more than criticism and comparison.  This inspires the child to be in his/her joy when undertaking any activity.  

Claiming Our Joy in short, means to be free of any judgement of how I "should" be, and embracing how I would like to Be - while being firmly established in my Joy within which is my true State of Being.    

The Fountain of Bliss lies Within Me.