It’s not always easy to feel joy in life, especially when we’re bombarded with discouraging news and wrenching images of human suffering. Yet holding on to happiness in spite of everything is a challenge which confronts everyone. As Paramhansa Yogananda wrote: “Life is a struggle for joy all along the way. May I fight to win the battle on the very spot where I now am.”
In this same regard, Swami Kriyananda said, “Joy is the solution, not the reward.” In other words, joy is a dynamic choice we can make every day, not a passive response we feel only when favorable circumstances warmly greet us.
Here are ten portals you can choose every day that will expand your joy. Select a few of them, or as many as you like, but do some of them every day. You’ll be surprised how your joy level begins to rise.
Door #1: Do Something You Love. Decide for yourself what it is—walk, paint, call an old friend, knit, read a good book, pet your cat—but make sure it’s something that you’re doing for the joy of it, not from a sense of obligation. Joy Password: I Enjoy.
Door #2: Challenge Yourself. Find something that you thought you couldn’t do, and then put out the energy to accomplish it. Begin with little things—don’t start with running a marathon, if you’ve never done it before. Think rather of things that are doable but above your present level of skill or experience, then persevere until you’ve done it. Joy Password: I Can.
Door #3: Do a Task You’ve Been Avoiding. How much energy and peace is wasted in all the niggling, little things that we keep putting off! Clean out your desk drawers, give away all those books you’re done with, or answer those complicated emails you keep in the “Hope They Disappear” folder. Joy Password: I Will.
Door #4: Read or Listen to Something Inspiring. The gifts of the great spiritual teachers are abundant, but we pass them over in the midst of our busy lives. If you take only five minutes each day to immerse yourself in the wisdom from enlightened souls, you’ll be laying a foundation of joy that nothing can destroy. Joy Password: I Attune.
Door #5: Tell Someone They’re Appreciated. Yogananda once said to a group of his disciples, “If you only knew how beautiful you are. I see you all as beings of light.” This is how God sees each of His children—as their divine potential. By serving as a channel to express His love and appreciation for others, we draw closer to His bliss. Joy Password: I Care.
Door #6: Be Grateful for Something in Your Life. Don’t be grateful just for the good things. Think appreciatively about each setback and test, and realize how much you gained from the experience. So whether it’s a loving friend or an undermining competitor, simply think, “Thank You, God.” Joy Password: I Give Thanks.
Door #7: Make Someone Smile or Laugh. As your joy increases, be sure to share it with others—with friends, strangers, and even those who are difficult for you. Let your joy be like an unseen effervescence in the water of life that you offer to everyone. Joy Password: I Share.
Door #8: Gaze at Something Beautiful in Nature. Find something in the natural world—a flower, a pinecone, a leaf of a houseplant, the rings of a tree stump. Gaze at it until you see its beauty. Then close your eyes, and try to feel the divine thought that created it. Finally, open your eyes and look at it anew with appreciation for the joy our Creator has put into everything. Joy Password: I See.
Door #9: Do an Anonymous Act of Kindness. Be a secret agent for help and support to others. Service is even sweeter when it’s offered without any thought of personal recognition. Joy Password: I Serve.
Door #10: Meditate with Joy. Don’t wait for joy to come to you. Bring it into your meditation, until you remember that it is who and what you really are. Yoganandaji wrote, “From joy I came, for joy I live, in sacred joy I melt.” Joy Password: I Am.
May all the portals of joy open for you,