Joy is as thorny and sharp as any of the dark emotions. To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn't come with guarantees--these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain.
When we lose our tolerance for discomfort, we lose joy. In fact, addiction research shows us that an intensely positive experience is as likely to cause a relapse from numbing with drugs or alcohol as an intensely painful experience.
We cannot make a list of all the "bad" emotions and say,
"I'm going to numb these" and then make a list of all the positive emotions and say,
"I am going to fully engage in these."
You can image the vicious cycle this creates. I do not experience much joy so I have no reservoir to draw from when hard things happen. They feel more painful, so I numb. I numb so I do not experience joy. And so on.
The sharp edges can be in life, one learns that recognizing and and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude, and grace. The uncomfortable and scary leaning requires both spirit and resilience.
Feelings of hopelessness, fear, blame, pain, discomfort vulnerability, and disconnection sabotage resilience. The only experience that seems broad and fierce enough to combat a list like that is the belief that we are all in this together and that something greater than us has the capacity to bring love and compassion into our lives.
Whether we are overcoming adversity, surviving trauma, or dealing with stress and anxiety, having a sense of purpose, meaning, and perspective in our lives allows us to develop understanding and move forward.
Without purpose, meaning, and perspective, it is easy to lose hope, numb our emotions, or become overwhelmed by our circumstances. We feel reduced, less capable, and lost in the face of struggle.
The heart of spirituality is connection.
When we believe in that inextricable connection, we do not feel alone.
Brene Brown ~ The Gifts of Imperfection