Pride and Joy
It’s been said that everything in life comes down to two opposing forces – fear and love. Literally every action we take is based in fear, or it’s based in love. But however dominant a role fear and love play, we are often unaware of their subtle influence as they mostly dwell in the subconscious. Culturally, we are taught to repress fear and replace it with bravery and courage. However, courage isn’t the absence of fear, but rather the ability to find an elevated state of consciousness by recognizing and addressing it. This work is about the capacity to move from the ego state towards a selfless one. The progression starts with sitting with the duality of both fear and love being present in our lives.
Facing fear is easier said than done. Fear by its inherent nature is scary and unpleasant. I don’t know of too many people that intentionally seek uncomfortable circumstances. Many will do almost anything to avoid the pain of anxiety, worry, and discomfort. Instead of facing fear, we seek amusement, focus on external goals, and escape in short-term reprieve. In a state of distraction, ego and pride hold sway suggesting you deserve better than the stresses of fear. But ultimately, there is only one way through fear - meeting it head on.
The culminating effect of looking that tiger straight in the eye and expressing your authenticity can be summated with one word - JOY. As most know, the word joy simply means a source or feeling of great happiness. Synonyms of the word joy include blessedness, bliss, and beatitude. It’s easy to recognize joy. The exuberance of a child who scores the winning goal, the truthfulness of a musician playing a passionate song, the emotion of a competitor crossing the finish line after a long race, or the devotion of a volunteer filled with love and gratitude in making their community a better place.
The shared experience of joy is also one of the biggest predictors of successful relationships. Human beings stick with things that bring them genuine satisfaction, delight, and happiness. They leave people and situations that do not. Joy is the foundation of love, faith, and purpose in work. Joy is realized in the expression of awareness and hope. Joy is found the willingness to work through adversity.
But while it’s easily defined and recognized, joy is not always easy to come by. In a misguided attempt to find joy, many get lost in ‘doing, finding, and getting’ while lacking real purpose. In doing so, we become addicted to the wrong things – narcissism, prosperity, and short-term gain. We mistakenly think joy is a quality of external circumstance versus a quality nurtured from an internal state. We falsely seek joy, thinking we’ll discover it with a sense of fun, entertainment, or pleasure. But joy is not the same thing as ‘fun.’ Fun to you might be a weekend in Vegas. Fun to you might be shopping at the mall. But true joy is usually quite the opposite of pleasant distraction.
There are two critical elements of joy – sacrifice and authenticity. The expression of joy occurs in the realization that life is a gift. Actualizing this awareness manifests when we in turn discover our gifts and honor our responsibility to share them with the world. Demonstrating our gifts means living the ‘S’ words with grace:
Surrender – The willingness sit with uncertainty, fear, and doubt.
Sacrifice – Getting about the work of facing fear.
Service – The task of selfless work in expressing authenticity in and around a sense of purpose.
2016 was a tumultuous year for many. But change and uncertainty also brings the opportunity for sacrifice and authenticity. Instead of a resolution in the form of a typical short-term goal, my hope is that 2017 can bring us all joy instead. Whether your goal next year is to lose weight, work less, or accomplish more, ultimately our collective task is to uncover, refine, and perfect our inherent gifts that bear the fruits of joy. Through such sacrifice and in expressing your gifts is one of life's greatest satisfactions - unbridled, unrestrained, and unhampered joy.