An ancient story depicting what happens after death, tells of two questions that will be asked each of us. The first is: Did you find joy? The second: Did you bring joy to others?
In a time when depression and discontent seem to be a growing epidemic, these are potent questions. Healthline reports that in the United States, the number of patients diagnosed with depression is increasing at the rate of approximately 20% a year – staggering numbers for a country that has so many resources available to it.
Max Strom, a champion author and speaker on joy and happiness, has much for all of us to consider. One of his comments in particular made me pause. He states, “Joy is the ultimate discipline.” How interesting to consider joy as a discipline, not something to be purchased or achieved. And what would joy as a practice of discipline look like in each of our lives?
Discipline is something we prioritize, we carve space for, and we attend to. We claim it as important and deserving of our attention, and we choose it at the expense of other things. Swami Rama reminds us that “to live is a grace from Providence, but to live happily is of your own making.”
The yoga masters tell us that joy is our innate state; it is the essence of who we are. This means that the discipline of joy is to remember and touch the very core of ourselves and the simple moment to moment gifts of being. It is to continually discern and expose any false pretenders claiming to bring a happiness that is ultimately barren. And perhaps most importantly, joy is something we boldly trust even as it seemingly disappears when hardship and challenge presents itself.