Exercise for Embracing Joy

New Year’s time often involves resolutions — things that we set our minds to do. Some folks
treat it like a challenge, some folks have a basic idea, general and high-level, others are more
specific. Some people have a plan, a way of holding themselves accountable, others set a
course, yet allow their intentions to flow more freely. Many people expect their resolutions to
peter out, evaporate, and often they are forgotten.

Reverend Aikman and our Worship Team have invited in ideas from Hindu beliefs that I find
creative and exciting, and I would like to help you take them a step further, into your own lives
for this new year, in a way that I hope will allow you to live into a life you love, full of joy, for the
entire year.

Much like that blind monks who were asked to describe an elephant, we each will see different
things in this exercise, and so sharing can play an important part in examining our own lives: I
hope you will consider sharing some of the insights you find, both specific and general, as we
do a short version of this exercise.

Ganesh, as we learned, is the Hindu god with the head of an elephant — and we can see that
his head is powerful. He can push things out of the way, but he can also think. Elephants have
a long memory, and they have a unique feature: a trunk that is not just ornamental, but useful in
many, many ways. Elephants, in real life, have giant feet and a mass that can crush — but those
feet are soft, delicate, even, and may be hurt. They bear a lot of weight, and must be cared for.
Indeed, the image of an elephant brings many metaphors. Some of us would be served well
with a tougher skin.

I would like to ask you to use your elephant brain and memory to create a list today — one with
two columns. In column 1, we are going to explore Joy. Look back over this past year and even
before that: Can you pick out moments of Joy? What was happening? Who was there? What
was it like? Was is a certain time? Was there a certain place? Can you discern why there was
joy for you?

We will write for just a minute or two, and then I will explain column 2.

Thank you for taking this time to write about your joys. I hope that you have at least a beginning
as you consider your year, and I hope you will consider this a “living list” that you will add to as
you move forward.

Column 2 is useful because it will help you to develop “driving directions” — that is, help you to
get to that specific joy again. For each item in column 1, I hope you will look at what might be
needed to get to that place again. Consider any impediments or obstacles that you might
clear away, and who can help in your journey to this joy. The when might be elusive, it could be
a holiday or an understanding of how the time of day/night affects this joy, but I encourage you
not to use the when as a deadline or pressure, more as a signal to you that your rhythms with
relation to time of day, week, month or year. And don’t forget your unique and special talents,
your trunk, your unique talents that can clear your way as only you know how to do.

Take another minute and see if you can begin filling in column 2 for a few items in column 1.
Thanks for taking some time to find your way to your own joys. With an eye on the time, we will
encourage you to share your findings during the after-session today… I hope you will stay on for
a few minutes at the end.

This living exercise grows as you share your joys and hear the joys of others that might spur
your own memories. As you continue to write and think — embrace that this exercise is
exploratory and designed to broaden your experience with and of joy. The hope is to notice
more joy in your life, and to expand on the joys you experience daily. Like noticing certain
colors in your environment, you can train yourself to look for Joy.