By Jennifer Griffiths | June 26, 2013
“Even in the midst of pain it is possible to live in that deep life-giving river of joy.” Jean Houston
Years ago I was studying abnormal psychology and decided I had everything in the textbook. Schizophrenia, psychosis, neurosis, perhaps even a simple personality… there was obviously no hope for me. I may as well just slit my own wrists. Then I walked into the canteen and spotted a photographic display – beautiful black and white images from a squatter camp near Cape Town.
The thing that shocked me the most about the images was not the squalor or poverty but the fact that everyone looked so happy. They had nothing. They were living in shacks made from bits of scrap material and plastic bags. Yet each face was joyful, even radiant. I walked away from that exhibition deeply humbled but also transformed. It cured me instantly of my own self imposed misery.
Often we are so focused on what’s not working in our lives that we forget all the good things we have. Or the magic of just being alive – full moon rising, birds song, a baby’s smile…
Thought I’d share with you something I’m exploring at the moment – a process by Jean Houston for bringing more joy into your life.
Jean says “The absence of joy is one of the reasons so many of us are sick.
Practicing joy minute by minute hour by hour day by day will help us discover how to transmute that cloud of pain that surrounds the Earth into mindful delight. We serve the Earth by practicing joy..”
The Eightfold path to Joy
Here are Jean Houston’s 8 steps:
“Each step is like walking on a lotus blossom. You walk from one beautiful petal to another.” JH
1 Joyful belief. Joy is the primary element in all creation. We’re hardwired for happiness.
2. Joyful awareness – look for it in everything, Expect it. Joy increases exponentially as it is recognized.
3. Joyful acknowledgment – feel and appreciate it through every pore, breath, bone.
4. Joyful dedication – align with our deepest purpose and values
5. Joyful remembrance – Harvest the good things we have done. Build a joy bank of good memories.
6. Joyful transformation. Mindfulness leads us to transmute pain. Take a 1minute vacation from suffering.
7. Joyful presence. Even in the midst of pain it is possible to live in that deep life-giving river of joy.
If someone you know is suffering, learn compassionate listening
8. Joyful service – Do whatever you are doing with joy. Even if it seems boring or unimportant. This shifts things for you rapidly.
Jean asks, “What can you do in your own life to be a social artist? How can you bring hope to others?”
or as poet Mary Oliver puts it, “What is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”