Cultivating Joy

It’s not often I hear people say, “I want more joy.”  In these stressful and uncertain times, maybe more joy is just the medicine we need.  What would it be like if we experienced more joy?  How would we show up in the world if we felt more joy?  How would we move through challenges if in the background we felt a little joy?

I can’t say that over the past couple weeks that I needed more joy, or that it would be something I would chose to cultivate.  BUT, I have been practicing generosity, and I have seen crazy awesome shifts in my life from it.  Before I get into this, I have to say: I am a pro when it comes to working with the mind.  I can overcome almost any obstacle or find peace in almost any situation.  However, lately I have been really exploring the heart, which i am a little hesitant to.

As an exploration of the heart and generosity, I decided to volunteer as the Kitchen Manager for a 5 day silent meditation retreat with Common Ground Meditation Center.  It was new territory for me.  Most of my “giving” in the past has been work I’ve been paid to do.

Going in as Kitchen Manager, I was very anxious.  I was responsible for the meals getting heated up, the volunteers functioning as a cohesive team, and making sure that all the daily tasks were completed.  

There were so many things that could go wrong.  

One of the mantras that came to me and helped me to get over my fear of burning a meal, forgetting to purchase key ingredients, or running out of food is:

“It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being present.”

I could probably write a whole blog on that mantra itself, but here we go, on to generosity.

Being present with what came up being Kitchen Manager on retreat, things actually went very smoothly and there was a nice flow to the whole kitchen.

What I really want to get into is what arose from the experience.

What arose for me were undeniable waves of joy.  It’s hard to explain, but it just felt like I was standing under a waterfall of joy, and the waters of joy were pouring over me.

I’ve felt ripples and waves from this experience shift my life, as I have returned from the retreat (about a week ago).  I feel a lightness in my work.  I feel more connected to people.  I feel happier. Less fear. More confidence.  Gratitude.

Working with generosity in this has really shifted my life in a relatively short amount of time.  If you’re interested in exploring generosity and joy, here are some pointers to get you started:

-Do not give to get.  Even though receiving is likely a consequence of giving, do not give with the expectation to receive.

-Choose something that sparks your interest or at least something you feel neutral towards.  It’s not a good idea to start with something you hate doing or strongly dislike.

-As you are serving let it be a light experience and not “work” that needs to be done.

-Notice how you feel before, after, and during your act of service.

-Service opportunities are everywhere.  They don’t have to be a volunteer position.  It could be as simple as picking trash off the street.  Helping a friend move. Helping your parents make dinner.

-Don’t keep score.  Give freely.

Let me know in the comments what your generosity practices are.  Or if you’re new to exploring generosity (like me!), try it out and let me know how it goes.

With Love,