Kind promise: I will live joyfully without reason.

 Painting snipHavi Brooks, whose work at The Fluent Self blog I admire, recently suggested a discernment tool. When considering whether to do something, ask: does it spark joy?

She credits Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up with the question. While I am, these days, not at all about tidying up, I am in favor of living life with Havi’s playful and mysterious attitude.

For the last week, I have been breathing myself back to the mission statement: choose joy; beam love; breathe peace. I love it.

People are not always supportive of choosing joy and I understand that. Positivity can be annoying if you are contemplating the state of the world. We are in a mess, with violence and injustice all around us. If you are grieving, it’s uncomfortable to be next to joy. And yet…

That is real life, isn’t it? I am remembering sitting my six-month-old baby on her dying grandmother’s hospital bed, watching Marge’s face as she took in the beauty and miracle of this new life and the towering sadness that she would not be there to watch it grow. I understood more tenderly my mother’s description of my own early months when my three month old self brought joy to the deathbed of my own grandmother.

It is part of the human miracle: to be able to hold joy and sorrow in our hearts simultaneously.

If I am sorting possessions or choosing between activities, I can ask “does it spark joy?” and discard it if it doesn’t. I can notice what sparks joy for me and say, “yes – more of that!”

When it comes to experiencing life, I want to open to all of it: the pain and the laughter, the grief and the joy. It seems part of emotional and spiritual health to notice, express and release all moods and emotions.

I am not choosing joy instead of sorrow; I am choosing joy amidst sorrow.