Holding Hands with Joy and Sadness

Hello again!

How are you doing?

Really? How are you?

A question we get asked many times throughout the day and the response is often the same, not straying too far from good, fine, ok, great.

I’m not sure about you, but these days it is tricky to answer the question, “How are you?” with one word.

I know, I know…you’re not going to get into it with some random you meet in passing at the store. It’s a nicety we ask someone as we move on to the next part of the conversation or move on with our day.

I’ll cut to the chase.

I believe more than ever before, at least in my lifetime, we are being asked to embrace duality…light and dark…stillness and movement. We are being asked to let go of binary thinking. To realize that black or white thinking or way of life doesn’t really do the job for wholehearted living. The goodness is in the grey.

I’m rarely, if ever, 100% happy or 100% sad. Or 100% anything. Often happiness comes with some excitement or feelings of calm. Sadness can travel with anger, disappointment, grief. Grief can hold hands with joy. The myriad of emotions and experiences is what makes us dynamic, complex, and ever-changing creatures.

It goes without saying that these are not ordinary times and the ordinary will likely not be coming back anytime soon, if ever. We are dealing with so much on the world scale, taking in so much in a time of unprecedented speed and technology that our nervous systems are firing on all cylinders, our hearts often strained, and our bodies and minds easily exhausted.

AND at the same time, with the world and earth in pain, there is still so much room for joy, happiness, fun, and love. Love, in my opinion, is how we will start to get ourselves out of this. Love is what will create a new way. Love is what heals.

Most weeks I feel a full array of feelings.
I find pockets of joy with my family and by connecting to those I love….
Dance parties in the living room.
Time in nature with no phones.
That first sip of fresh coffee in the morning.
The last few moments of the sunset.

These are small moments but in my ripe ‘ole age of 34, these small moments have become the bigs ones. These moments are not to make light of some truly heavy and hard things happening in the world but it’s in an effort to make space at the table for the good stuff.

So when you have the energy and space to do so, invite the difficult and heavy to the table like you do the light and joyful. Embracing duality is a practice of seeing that everything is part of the whole. By holding space for all emotions, all situations, all the highs and lows, we pave the way to acceptance, not from a passive and inactive place but with recognition of what can be done. We can move forward from a place of love, creating more joy along the way if we so choose.

Let it be a practice. Let it become a ritual.

Here some things that have allowed joy to be more accessible in my everyday life:

  • take a few moments in the morning to focus on the feeling of joy, gratitude, positivity, etc, and I imagine myself moving through my day from this place.
  • share the highlight of the day with my family.
  • name or write down 3 things I am grateful for that day.
  • do things slowly, not rushing and noticing how it feels to be doing that thing….for example, when in nature, notice details about your surroundings, the sensations of the sun or breeze hitting your face
  • share joy…do something for someone…offer a compliment, bake or cook for a friend. Offer up the feeling you wish you cultivate for yourself.

So, my friend, where will you find joy today?

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