Durable joy–a state of contentment not dependent on external circumstances–is an ingredient in robust health. Lack of joy is an essential root condition of sickness. In order to abide in a joyful mind, it’s necessary to recognize where our existence is joyless. So how do we work on leveling-up from such unhappy states?
Living in right order is a foundation of joy. Right order results in a pleasant, unagitated mind not disturbed by frustration, confusion, nor stress. A pleasant, unagitated mind results in neuro-endocrine-immune signals associated with physical well-being. Like a fire that warms those who stand near it, when we abide in such a way we contribute to others’ happiness.
Disorder decreases joy. It is a source of frustration, confusion, agitation, stress. A frustrated, agitated mind results in neuro-endocrine-immune signals associated with physical dis-ease. Like a fire that warms those who stand near it, when we abide in such a way we contribute to others’ unhappiness.
Therefore, one level of work that emerges–if we are committed to leveling-up from a place of non-joy to greater joy–is restoring order where there is currently disorder. Just like if you want to abide in a clean house, you’ve got to recognize where it’s messy.
Just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, our lives are in order to the extent they are in disorder. So what can disorder look like?
>> The obvious kind of external disorder, where anyone with even a semi-functional eyeball can look and say “damn bro, this space is a mess…someone needs to put this shit straight”. This can refer to a home space, a work space, or the physical body.
>> Mental disorder, where the mind is cluttered, disorganized, scattered in many directions. Contributors to this state include information overload, failure to examine the contents of the mind through introspective reflection, unacknowledged inner conflicts, and laziness/lack of discipline.
>> Relationship disorder, where the interpersonal dynamic is tainted by anger, resentment, guilt, &/or general unhappiness. It leads to putting up walls whether overtly or subtly. But where we put walls up, there is fear and hatred; where there is fear and hatred, there is agitation; where there is agitation, there is disorder; where there is disorder, there is lack of joy; where there is lack of joy, there is the root condition of suffering and disease. Contributors to this state include holding self/other to rigid expectations, unforgiven wounds, and unhealthy self-centeredness.
Some points to ponder / action items:
Can you clearly identify where there is disorder, unfinished business in your life? It’s worth committing time and energy to exploring this question–examining your home space, work space, mind space, and relationships.
Do you deeply yearn to abide in durable joy, in good health, in rectifying disorder where it currently exists in you? This deep yearning is one factor that makes the necessary long-term commitment possible.
Is there a self-level that would rather avoid this important work of self-examination?
Where, in what ways are your relationships–even and especially those of long-standing–cold, tense, unloving?
Old habits are difficult, but not impossible, to break. To generate the motivation to putting disorder in order–recollect regularly: if I continue with my affairs in disorder, I’m going to continue suffering in mind and body; if I restore order to disorder, I will suffer less and live in greater joy.
“Knowing what to do and not doing it is the same as not knowing what to do.” —Robin Sharma
There is a false order that comes from pretending there is no disorder, that comes from neglecting or tuning out the resultant agitation. Like the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse that killed over 1,100 people, such a false order is bound to bring disaster.
Meditate daily–even for a few minutes. It’s an essential habit to keeping the mind in right order. This blog post features an entry-level practice.
Remember to discern form and substance. Something can look like it is in order but it is really in disorder, and vice versa.
There is a type of order that is fluid, flexible, forgiving and the type of order that is tight, rigid, forced.
Rigid, overly strict order is not really order. Beneath the veneer of order is disorder in the form of mental-emotional agitation, a selfish concern about maintaining things “my way”. It’s essentially a control issue.
Surrendering tight, rigid control and abiding comfortably in the unknown like a child who trusts her loving parent are prerequisites to cultivating loving relationships consonant with right order. How do we know we are abiding in right order? The pure heart tells us so.
We can keep disorder in neat boxes that look like order, but our deep conscience knows the truth of the matter.
Dependent joy–the kind that needs others to do things “my way”–is not really joy. Such a false contentment hinges on others doing what you want them to do. It is temporary, fleeting, and keeps the suffering wheel of pride and anger ever a-turn.