Cultivating Sympathetic Joy
My life, like yours, is messy, complicated, fun, not-so-fun, full of consequences and blessings of choices I've made. It's easy to get disillusioned by watching friends' lives on social media and think that what they have going on is better. In life I get so much more by working toward being content and not wishing for things but instead making the best out of what I have in the season of life presented to me.
God knows, when I was a new mother, I remember the days where I wondered, will I ever leave the house at all or at least leave the house with a clean shirt on? And, now, I think, where have my babies gone that they want to take driving lessons and don't want to hold my hand any longer?
All things pass...good and bad. Seasons shift from summer to winter from newborns to aging parents.
I don't have a full proof recipe on how to cultivate this kind of joy. If it were a magic pill, I would sell it to you. For me, envy is like a blemish at times, popping up on occasion in the most unflattering and noticeable of places.
Mudita begins with the heart. I had to ask myself: what do I need? What brings me joy? And what do my kids need and can I balance those 2 things?
With time, it has gotten easier to be at ease with myself. And, as I've gotten older, I am beginning to behold the woman I am becoming. Learning to embrace my wrinkles, gray hair (OK, not yet), a slowing metabolism and how I feel blemished to perfect imperfection. Acceptance and joy comes more readily when I am consistent with mindful practices like Yoga and meditation. I'm less agitated by life's bumps and trails. Mostly.
But really, it's about perspective. I'm journalling this in a country that the vastness between the rich and poor is so big that it's simply not possible for me to reconcile it. In fact, some guilt over my own good fortune started to creep in while I've been here.
Our happiness factor doesn't increase with the more we have. In fact, studies show, it decreases. I had to ask myself, what if I let go of how I thought things should be and simply just decide to make a difference by being a better version of myself? That's all I can do. Strive to live every moment contented. Just this moment. Right now.
I can respect and even be delighted with our differences of providence.
As Ram Das says, aren't we are all just traveling the same path home?