The Benefits of Joy

Jessica Wilcox Smith

Jessica Wilcox Smith, Illustrator

“It may help someone to point out
Where he is heading,
But the point is lost
Unless he is also helped
To change his direction.
The unhealed healer cannot do this for him,
Since he cannot do it for himself.
The only meaningful contribution
The healer can make
Is to present an example of one whose direction
Has been changed for him,
And who no longer believes
In nightmares of any kind.” ~ Course in Miracles

Someone sent out a link this morning to a website about a woman and her mission. I rarely look at links but early this morning, having already found the quote I wanted to use for this blog and waiting for inspiration on what to write here, I found myself on the site. The woman’s name is Shelley Yates. Shelley tells the story of how both she and her son “died” in a car accident, spending more than 15 minutes under water; how both are now alive. The story and her mission are interesting but what struck me most was the way she was told to save her son and what she was asked to do as a commitment.

After her son was pronounced brain dead and the doctors recommended that he be taken off all life support Shelly was guided to ask people to come share their energy and their greatest joys with her comotase, brain dead son; to let him know that this world is a place of optimism, hope and joy; share with him what grounded them in this world and what made them happy in this space. They played music that he loved and shared joy for 3 solid days. At the end of 72 hours her son awakened, sat up and knew who he was. By the next day the child was asked to leave the Intensive Care Unit because he wasn’t sick enough, within a few weeks he was back to normal.

Later Shelley was asked to make a commitment. She was asked to do 3 things. First, do no harm and start with yourself, second, do everything you do with honesty and integrity, and third, find your human joy. Whatever it is that brings you joy, find it and be grateful. That in doing this she would become a catalyst for healing the earth.

I find it fascinating that more and more science is telling us how good joy is for the body, psychologists are telling us how good it is for the mind, and spiritual messages talk about joy and how good it is for us and the earth. I find myself in a sense of wonder when I think that maybe it is even one of the purposes we came to this earth for…

When I read this and relate it to the quote above I realize that the best gift we can give each other is our joy. So often we think we have to give things, or take care of people, or do things for them. Often we do these things with resentment or the air of a martyr because somewhere deep inside us we know that these things often serve neither the giver or the receiver. Think of the joy you get watching a child have fun, a friend enjoy the moment, someone who has a zest for their work or just for life. Have you ever felt your joy ricochet off another? You catch someone’s eye while you’re in your joy, you catch their smile, their wink, their high five. Someone once said “A joy that’s shared is a joy that’s doubled.” Joy can change things.

Spend some time today thinking about what gives you joy; doing what brings you joy; feeling joy, sharing joy, delighting in joy. Look at what it would take to put more joy in your life. It’s not necessarily the big things; it may be the scenic route to work, a favorite story you read as you snuggle with a child, a chair by a window that’s perfect for watching the sun rise or set. It may be massaging a friend’s shoulders or having them do yours, having a flower on your kitchen table, stopping to watch a butterfly. It may just be thinking of happy times or experiences. Whatever it is begin now. It will make a difference to you, to others, to the world.

How would your life be different if you believed your purpose in this life was joy?

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