Spiritual Practices Joy
Joy endures in the face of suffering and times of struggle and is foundational to a spiritual fitness that will withstand difficulties and loss.

By: Spirit - Faith Traditions - 11/15/2018

When the terms religion, faith, and spirituality are used in conversations, all too often they conjure ideas of seriousness and ritual. You might not immediately associate mirth and merriment with spiritual fitness, but joy is at the very heart of it. Why joy? Because joy endures in the face of suffering and times of struggle and is foundational to a spiritual fitness that will withstand all difficulties and loss.

What is joy? It can be much more than happiness, humor, and laughter. It can be a deep and resolute conviction to hold on to your beliefs and the happiness this brings you. It can be the ability to recognize and experience things such as friendship, laughter, and happiness and recall them during times of struggle and war. Preparing for or engaging in war leaves little room for joy and laughter. For families and friends of Service Members, finding joy and laughter in the midst of supporting your Operator or Enabler can be just as difficult. Joy is what will help you stay focused on mission, family, and living a healthy and fulfilled life.

If you examine joy through the analogy of orienteering, joy is magnetic north. The compass is you—your well-being, ethics, decisions—and life is the terrain. There are times when the terrain is smooth, and magnetic north is obvious. You experience times of joy—laughing with friends at a party; enjoying the holidays with family; taking a solo backpacking trip after a long, hard deployment. All of these things can bring happiness and laughter and create good memories.

The Practice Of Joy

Then there are times when life is difficult. You have mountains to cross and must navigate over them. The decisions you make are your compass, but your compass is only helpful if it can pinpoint magnetic north. You might be facing a difficult situation at work. You might be divorcing your spouse. Or you might be looking at financial difficulties from a family member's medical expenses. During these times it's easy to lose sight of joy, especially if you don't remember to orient yourself toward it. Therefore joy is a practice.

You must strive to always experience it or remember it during times of struggle. So how do you practice joy? Some practices are found in religious rituals. Perhaps it is found through the ritual of wrapping the Sikh turban. Or it can be found by participating in Ramadan and breaking the fast with loved ones.

Practicing joy can be done outside of religious rituals too. It might be recharging your spirit through sports or volunteering in your community. Pursuing hobbies outside of work is another way to spiritually practice of joy.

Through such joyful practice you can find yourself grounded and rooted in a supportive community during times of trouble. Seek out what brings you joy, and use it to navigate whatever life brings you.

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