Mind-Body Health

How to Access Joy During Challenging Times

How to Access Joy During Challenging Times
Would you believe me if I told you there is an endless wellspring of joy that lives within you, and tapping into it doesn’t have to be complicated? Even amid a pandemic, it’s there in your heart, just waiting for you!

You might be experiencing feelings like hopelessness, despair, fear, anxiety, anger, grief, loneliness, and more right now. And you’re not alone. We are all in a moment of trauma right now. Those feelings are real. There’s no denying that.

But here’s the good news: the troubles plaguing the world do not have to infect your mind or bring sickness to your heart. Joy is the antidote! Each moment of joy you experience is like a spark, bringing light to your darkness and illuminating the way to transformation.

Get Out of Your Head

You may have unintentionally built walls between your mind and your Buddha nature—the part of you that is always at ease, the awakened heart. You may stay locked up in your conditioned mind and keep your heart out of the equation as a means of self-protection. But newsflash honey, you are not protecting anything!

Whether you like it or not, your heart isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s the thing that’s going to save you. So, to access your joy, first, you must pave a path from your mind to your heart.

It can be so easy to waste so much time distracting yourself from your emotions with television, alcohol, drugs, gossip, social media, and more. It mires you in mental clutter that distorts your ability to discern between your transient feelings and your essential nature. You can get consumed with the emotion of the moment because you’ve lost your perspective. You can get caught up in your head.

But the good news is you can take control and shift your mindset, allowing you the clarity to be with your feelings and without being consumed by them. Once you shift your perspective, you can move into your heart with ease.

Move Into Your Heart

The historical Buddha observed that your essence, your awakened heart, is the compass that guides you to the four essential directions of love, compassion, wisdom, and joy. By connecting to your heart, you can access these qualities and let them guide you, even in moments of incredible challenge.

When you access your heart, your perspective shifts to see challenges as an opportunity to learn, grow, and expand. You stop being the victim of your circumstances and, instead, find ways to allow your circumstances to contribute to your spiritual awakening. Tapping into your heart helps you rise above your circumstances, bring joy into everyday moments, and share your awakening with the world!

You can get connected to your heart through spiritual practices that challenge you to release limiting beliefs, break negative thought patterns and unhealthy habits, and start engaging with your vulnerability, compassion, forgiveness, and potential.

Here are five simple activities that support joy in daily life.

1. Dance

Dancing allows you to let the music flow through you, move your body intuitively, feel your pulse race and your breath coursing through you. It can be such a tremendous release and can help you drop into your heart and uncover joy.

2. Meditation

Whether you spend 5 or 50 minutes in meditation, it’s an act of self-love that pays off in dividends. You’ll declutter your mind, connect to your heart, and enjoy tremendous benefits that enhance your resilience during hard times—tapping into your wellspring of joy.

3. Journal

Journaling is another efficient, elegant way to change your relationship to the noise in your mind and become more self-aware of the harmful thought patterns that may be holding you back. Journaling about what you are grateful for can help you engage with joy.

4. Service

Whenever you feel really disconnected, try doing something for someone else to get back in touch with your heart. Acts of service can be tiny or huge, free or expensive. Try to offer them without expectation of anything in return except for the feelings it generates within you.

5. Connection

The human experience is incredibly powerful. You can find joy in even the smallest interactions with others. When you give people your full attention, actively listen to them, and provide support and inspiration, you are connecting to your heart (and theirs too!).

This pandemic experience is most likely challenging you to transform your life, and by extension, the world around you. Use your endless well of joy to create the world you want. How do you want your life and the world around you to look a week from now, next month, next year?

The Benefits of Joy in Action

Once you begin living in your heart, you’ll enjoy immediate shifts in the way you feel and relate to yourself and the world.

  • You’ll notice the noise in your mind has quieted a little, and your relationship with the mental chatter has changed, making it easier to focus and remain present in the moment.
  • You’ll find yourself longing for your meditation practice as a true expression of joy in action and cherish the sense of belonging you find in your heart.
  • You'll start to trust in the transient nature of emotions, experiencing them like a cloud or storm passing overhead, while your heart stays as vast as the sky and as bright as the sun.
  • When you feel called to move your body during your favorite song, you won’t worry about what anyone is thinking because your heart will be overflowing with joy.
  • You’ll find yourself turning toward healthier ways to spend your time, and leaving unwholesome habits in the past because making healthier choices fills you with joy.
  • You’ll notice little ways to be of service to others because it spreads joy, which is just as contagious as COVID-19.
  • You’ll become an example for others, inspiring them to live from their hearts as well. The more you share your joy, the more joy you’ll experience because sharing joy is its own reward and creates a virtuous cycle inside you.
  • You’ll find innovative ways to stay tapped into your joy so that it will become second nature—helping you continue growing as a person and expanding your heart.
With so much uncertainty in the world, and a new choice every day, why not choose joy?

While you wait for things to fall into place, try to refuse to be a victim of your circumstances. Shift your perspective and change the way you see these challenging times, and open your heart to recognize the opportunity in front of you. The opportunity to live in, and spread joy, every day.

Make the radical choice to change your mind, live in your heart, and be a beacon of joy, and your world will become a more beautiful place than you can imagine!

Nourish yourself with the ultimate well-being experience at the Chopra Health Retreat at CIVANA.