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John W. Travis, M.D. & Regina Sara Ryan
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Experiencing Joy

You experience joy when you realize some gain: anything from finding a dime on the sidewalk, to receiving a compliment, to understanding that people love you. Joy is a state of in-tune-ment, a feeling of expansiveness, a deep appreciation of the beauty all around. While some see it as a treasure to be searched for and then carefully guarded, it is simply the natural state of living with your eyes fully open - the gift and grace of being human. If this is true, you may wonder why you don't feel it more often.

Joy can be sabotaged when we mistrust having too much of a good thing. You have probably observed this scenario happening among young children: laughter and excitement build to a critical level, the energy gets intense, somebody hits or pushes somebody else, and the next thing you know, one of the crowd is crying, or the whole group is fighting. Adults are familiar with this pattern and often caution children: Calm down now," "Don't get too excited," "Somebody is going to get hurt." And sure enough, someone does.

It is easy to continue this way of thinking in our adult lives. We often find ourselves expecting the worst so we won't be disappointed. Someplace deep inside, many of us are afraid to open up to joy because we are afraid of losing it. Sooner or later, we think, it's got to end. The result of this closing down can be emotional dullness, a gray world, a guarded heart, and a lonely existence even in the midst of abundance.

Much poetry has been written about the joy to be found everywhere - in looking at a flower, breathing sea air, touching a leaf. Yet many of us miss these moments, and the possibility of joy, because we are too busy, too tired, too "mature," or too bored. One of the magical benefits of setting our sights on wellness is an opening to this richness - a heightened sense of joy in all aspects of our lives.

Whatever road we take to You, Joy.
However one is received, Honor.

With whatever eye one beholds You, Beauty.
In whatever language Your Name spoken, Joy.

—Shaikh Abu-Saeed Abil-Kheir

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