True inner joy is self – created. It does not depend on outer circumstances.
A river is flowing in and through you carrying the message of joy.
This divine joy is the sole purpose of life.
– Sri Chinmoy
There is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is fleeting and usually based on something in our external world. Maybe we have spent time with close friends or family and we feel uplifted in their company. Perhaps we have been surprised by a gift of a new car or a special vacation. These are situations that cause us to feel happiness momentarily but because our outer world changes, our feelings change also. Many of us have fallen into the trap of chasing happiness or contentedness only to find it is as elusive as a butterfly.
Joy is deeper than happiness and in the words of Deborah Adele in ‘The Yamas & Niyamas’, ‘Joy cannot be bought or accomplished, nor is it dependent on external things.’ How do we begin to explain it then? What do I mean by this ‘Journey to Joy’?
I believe that a life that follows certain ethical principles, that is focused on a Higher Purpose and committed to loving more, is a ‘Journey to Joy’. Joy is a deep inner presence that grows over time and is always present whether we feel happy or sad and regardless of what is happening in our lives. It is the result of consistently aligning our actions and beliefs with our Higher Selves and living from that place. It is a work in action and is never complete. It requires love, a sense of humor and a constant correction of our sails so that we are guided by the winds of grace.
Ethical Principles can be found in most religious traditions. The Yamas and Niyamas are found in the yogic philosophy and are broken down into restraints (yamas) and observances (niyamas) and are as follows:
To learn more about these, I highly recommend Deborah Adele’s book ‘The Yamas and Niyamas – Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice’.
So, this ‘Journey to Joy’ is not easy and ‘joy’ is not really an end-product or goal that we can reach overnight, but more an ever-deepening river of gratitude and contentedness. It is based on how we choose to live our lives and what we consider to be our priorities.
My blog is committed to helping you negotiate the pitfalls and to stay on the path. It will help you watch for signposts and strengthen your commitment. Check it out at www.elaineheroux.com.