On Absorbing Joy

Hello everyone,

How are you feeling? I just wanted to let you know that I’m thinking of you and sending you all warmth and peace.

Today, I’m sitting down to write about something that’s really important and hard to remember as we’re navigating these days of uncertainty and anxiety.

For the sake of our own resilience, we need to strengthen our capacity to accept and absorb joy.

Sharon Salzberg

It’s been getting harder and harder to find our capacity for absorbing joy, hasn’t it?

We’re in the midst of a pandemic and there’s no end in sight. People are losing their lives and livelihoods. Then, there’s the election on Tuesday and emotions are heightened.

The holidays are upon us but how do we even celebrate when so many of our traditions and gatherings require adjustment because of the pandemic?

Yet, for our own sake and for the sake of our loved ones, we need to find the strength to walk back to ourselves and get in touch with who we are and what we stand for. We need to be creative and resolute. We need to remember how to absorb joy in the midst of uncertainty and fear.

What gives you joy?

It can be …
  • Engaging your senses, like preparing a nutritious meal, taking a bath, or lighting your favorite candle and sitting down for some quiet time with your favorite book.
  • Looking through your photos and letting the happy memories come to you.
  • Spending time in nature, taking a walk along a river or a path in the woods, and preparing your garden for the winter.
  • Marveling at the colors, scents, and sounds of the changing season, and absorbing the messages that nature offers at every glimpse.
  • Having a good conversation with your loved ones or a good friend.
  • Listening to music or the sound of the rain against your window, reading a book or a favorite poem.

No matter what, this is a good time to allow ourselves to absorb some joy. It’s a good time to remember that nothing really lasts forever and all we have is this present moment, flawed as it may feel at times.

Joy and laughter and good will can see us through the rough times.

Times are difficult globally; awakening is no longer a luxury or an ideal. It’s becoming critical. We don’t need to add more depression, more discouragement, or more anger to what’s already here. It’s becoming essential that we learn how to relate sanely with difficult times. The earth seems to be beseeching us to connect with joy and discover our innermost essence. This is the best way that we can benefits others.

Pema Chodron from “When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times”

Yesterday, I started my day by heading out to the garden. It had snowed the day before so when I woke up and looked out the window, I saw that everything was covered in frost. I had to go outside and look up close and say thank you to the garden that has given me so much joy for so long. It looked beautiful. Everything was glistening in the morning light.

During the day, I reached out to an old friend to see how she’s doing. Catching up with her warmed my heart. I called my cousin in Greece because I hadn’t talked to her in a long time. Another friend from Greece called me to see how I’m doing. Afterwards, I took the time to appreciate the beauty of these connections.

Later in the afternoon, Neal, Elinor and I decided to go for a walk in the woods and through the wetlands. It was cold and there was a light dust of snow on certain parts.

I stopped to listen to the reeds whispering as they swayed in the afternoon breeze. I noticed the patches of ice that had began to form. The trees are almost bare now. The light was magical.

Back at home we shared a hot meal I had prepared earlier and then sat down to watch a movie together. It was lovely.

It was a good day! Yes, I engaged in conversations about our current reality and how we cope. I read the news and I had my moments. But, there was also love, warmth, and beauty.

So, tell me, what gives you joy?

4 Comments

  • Kathleen

    I love this post! And the lovely photos! With so much out of our control, it sometimes seems one of the only choices we still have is to turn to joy instead of hopelessness or anger. As I’ve been recovering from breaking my hip these past few weeks, I’ve been overwhelmed with moments of gratitude and joy (and Yota, you are a big part of that!). Pena Chodren is so right that our innermost essence is joy. As I was watching the Dalai Lama give a talk the other day, I was struck by how joyful he was. Gently joking and poking fun at himself, emanating love as he talked about very serious issues. Thanks so much for reminding us about the immense power we have inside.

    • Yota Schneider

      Thank you, Kathleen! It means a lot. <3

      It's easy to feel heavy and hopeless given your injury and everything that's going on and I'm so happy to see how well you're doing with your recovery.

      I need these reminder as much as anyone. When I ride the roller coaster of emotions, it's always the little things that keep me going.

      Here's to sharing our moments of joy! <3

  • Linda Samuels

    We are both thinking about joy and resilience now. As I read about your day, it made me think about our similarities and appreciation for joy-filled moments. You lean into the joy around you- your garden, gratitude, family, being in nature, cooking, watching movies, taking photos, reflecting, meditating, writing, and being warm and cozy at home. In a very challenging time, these moments of joy help to balance life tumult. I love your list of “joy” suggestions. Just yesterday I had a long talk with my wonderful Aunt Bert. She lives in France so I don’t get to see her very often. But we try to talk pretty frequently. We cover everything from serious to silly. But ultimately, we always end up giggling. I am so grateful for her and that she’s in my life. She is one of the only family members remaining from her generation.

    • Yota Schneider

      Hi Linda,

      Yes, it’s always affirming when we are in sync. It means we’re heading in the right direction. 🙂
      Connections and joyful moments help us ground ourselves and develop resilience when things get out of hand.
      Thank you for sharing about Aunt Bert. You’re lucky to have her in your life.

      Thank you for being here, as always. <3

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