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Discover Your Joy Quotient

April 17, 2014

Is it possible to rate our own happiness? Can one measure joy? I was "thumbing through" an e-zine when I came across a test for joy. Of course I took the quiz. It measured several different areas of life, and I was delighted to find out that I really am as happy as I think I am. It's not as if I needed reassurance, but it's always nice to have.

I find myself praying a lot these days for people who are overwhelmed by life's challenges, or by unresolved grief, multiple losses, and harbour fear of the future based on horrors of the past. On top of that they usually feel guilty for feeling bad. It would be an oversimplification to say that a person chooses unhappiness. Rather, it may be a habitual abiding and sometimes drowning in a familiar sea of suffering. As Dr. Phil McGraw would say, "How's that working for you?"

I asked my husband, Dan his thoughts about this. How would one be able to overcome a truly terrible series of losses and accumulated grief or anger? He answered as a psychologist and a spiritual scholar, and to me, his wisdom rang true. "Inertia will keep suffering going forever. What it calls for is a spiritual rebirth, a new beginning. From this point forward a new path -- new purpose, new path, new practices. You can't ever truly heal the past, but you can begin anew." He added in typical Dan fashion, "spelled g-n-u."

So, let's begin with assessing our own Joy quotient in the significant areas of life, rating each area from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest Joy score. This is my own adaptation of the quiz I took:

Relationships: How happy, trustworthy and joyful are your intimate relationships and your friendships? Do you have a circle of close friends or family that love you and support you? If you are lonely, how do you reach out for love? If a relationship is dysfunctional, how enmeshed are you with it? How detached? How well are you balancing care for others with self-care?

Finances: How free are you from debt or worries about indebtedness? Do you have a plan in place to earn sufficient money to care for yourself as you age? Do you feel secure in this area? Are you content with what you have?

Work: Do you love what you do? Is your work both meaningful and financially rewarding? If you are stuck in a job you don't like, do you have the courage to seek another way to earn a livelihood?

Service: Are you spending time giving to others? Contributing to your community? Are you overdoing the volunteering and needing to set new boundaries around how much or what you do?

Health: How resilient is your health? Are you satisfied with the way you eat, exercise, rest and recreate?

Spirituality: Do you have spiritual practices, such as prayer, meditation, journaling, attending services that feed your soul? How is your relationship with a Higher Power? Do you tend it as you do your most precious relationships with others?

Time: Do you feel your life is balanced between work, play, socializing, and solitude? Are you keeping what feels like a pace of grace or do you feel rushed and pressured?

If you scored yourself 4 or 5 on most areas, you can count yourself blessed to have a high level of Joy in your life. If less, than consider actions you can take to change that within the coming year. Here are some ways to optimize your joy:

  1. Forgive and move on. Don't keep reliving old hurts. They drain energy from the present.
  2. Purify your life. Stop identifying with your pain or thinking of yourself as a victim. Consciously Detach and let go of suffering. Disentangle from hurtful relationships.
  3. Compartmentalize grief. Spend only a small part of your precious energy emptying your cup of tears or anger. Focus on activities that bring you Joy.
  4. Practice Gratitude every day, noticing whatever is beautiful or meaningful inside you and around you. Express Appreciation often. Use affirmations based on your true worth.
  5. Find the Courage to become unstuck. Dare to call on Hope by plotting a new course based on a soulful Purpose.
  6. With Discernment and Creativity, forge a new plan for living by your purpose. Then pursue it with Patience, Hope and Faith.

Shoghi Effendi Rabbani of the Baha'i Faith in speaking of prayer says "Act as if it had all been answered. Then act with tireless, ceaseless energy. And as you act, you, yourself, will become a magnet, which will attract more power to your being, until you become an unobstructed channel for the Divine power to flow through you." I believe that the burdens of pain and suffering we carry out of habit can be an obstruction to our own joy. May we all open ourselves to the possibility that as Helen Keller says, "Life is either a grand adventure or nothing at all."


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Linda Kavelin-Popov

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