“How do you feel when you wake up in the morning and you look outside the window and it’s raining again? How do you feel?”
That is the subject of today’s 10-minute episode.
Okay, Will, is this a change of pace? Or what is this topic about? No, joy is part of what makes life worthwhile, part of what makes good times more fun. It makes the bad times far more tolerable, and prompts the type of clear thinking needed to get past the hard times. Joy is far more than merely, well, joyful, it is required for a good life. Required to fulfill the Revolution 2.0 principles and philosophy. And like sunscreen, it is best applied liberally and reapplied often.
Several years ago when I was preparing, training, for my first 525-mile, 8-day bicycle ride down the Coast of California as part of a group raising money for the Arthritis Foundation. I was riding in a group that included an experienced multiple-day bicycle event rider. We were talking while pedaling, and I expressed my nervousness about my upcoming 525-mile ride. He said to me, “Will, you are strong enough as a rider to make it all 8 days. The question is your butt and your mind.” “What?” I replied, “My butt and my mind?” “Yes, multiple days back-to-back on a bicycle seat can be hard to handle if you are not used to it.” Then he made a point by way of a joke saying, “The best way to train your bottom for something like that is to sit sideways on a split rail fence for about a week.” Then he got to his main point with a question. “Let’s say it is day 5 of 8, you are on a long uphill, the wind is in your face and it is beginning to rain. What are you going to say to yourself?” He let it hang in the air like a rhetorical question, and I got it. Was I going to stick my tongue out and enjoy the rain, or was I going to start feeling sorry for myself? Was I going to be thankful for the training I had done, my very competent bicycle, and the satisfying breakfast that was still partly with me, or was I going to let my mind go downhill while I pedaled uphill?
Here was my riding companion’s point: Complaining is a decision. Joy is a decision. Which choice would I make?
We all face decisions like this; how will we react when it is raining again? Or when our party or candidate loses? Or our favorite sports team? Does it take some sort of triumph, or at least very good news for us to be joyful? Or do we need alcohol or other drugs to conjure up joy?
Answer: The seeds of joy are everywhere. Like the wild flowers that do not appear in dry seasons, but appear in joyful (there’s that word) profusion when there is enough water that season, joy is latent, always there, waiting for us to water it with the decision to be joyful. Unlike wildflowers, we do not need a season of preparation to find joy; a momentary decision will do it. Here are some of the many advantages of being filled with joy:
We saw my riding friend, long distance cycling mentor’s advice; here’s mine. Everything; being bored, happy, angry, joyful–are all choices. Are we making the right ones?
Will, I am not buying that all of these moods are choices. C’mon, when you lose a friend or your dog dies, you are going to be sad–period. And if you get treated unfairly by, for example, law enforcement or your insurance company, you have a right to be mad. Yes?
Answer. Yes. Absolutely. But for how long, and what do you get out of it? Sadness is a legitimate emotion, and can be helpful. Righteous anger clearly has its place. Stay with your sadness as long as it is healthy and healing. Let’s use our righteous anger to push ourselves toward realizing justice. But stop when either becomes what you seek, rather than what you need. Sadness overdone can lead to dysfunctional depression. Anger, initially righteous or not, can lead to semi-permanent rage. Get over those initially helpful emotions before they turn on us. To do that, first, get to neutral, then find joy. Joy is not a permanent state. No emotion is. Or should be. But like showers, the effect of joy has a short half-life, and joy needs to be brought up and applied and reapplied in our lives. Not always. But frequently. The key here is to know that joy available to be brought into our lives. By us. And at just about anytime.
As with principles like gratitude and having a moral compass, joy is a fundamental part of what we believe in here at Revolution 2.0™. The seemingly more practical beliefs we share, including personal responsibility and being our brother’s keepers, all rest on the foundation that includes joy, gratitude and having a moral compass.
And joy is contagious. Be a carrier.
Speaking of sharing joy, I’d like to share this joyful video with you. (This ties back to the opening quote.) With apologies to the potato chip commercial, I’ll bet you can’t watch it only once
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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.