How joyful is your life? Quickly rate your life on a scale of 1 to 10 – 1 being no joy at all and 10 being every moment is filled with joy. Where are you? Could your number be higher?

Here is a truth we frequently forget – we are spiritual beings moving through this human experience and this worldly time is a gift to be enjoyed.

What is keeping us from experiencing more joy right now in this very moment? Yes, there are those times when we move through great losses – deaths of loved ones, the endings of relationships, physical challenges and so on – when our natural movement through the grieving process precludes experiencing great joy. Yet, most of the time the majority of us are not in the midst of one of these major life challenges but we still place a lid on our happiness. Why?

Although there can be many reasons, from my experience supporting others (as well as my own self-imposed limits) it appears there are two major interrelated reasons we postpone joy. The first is that we mentally defer it to sometime in the future. We know that we are going to experience joy, just not right now – which leads to the second reason – we believe some condition needs to be met before our joy can occur.

There is an evolutionary basis for our behavior. One of the natural tendencies we learned as we moved through the traditional worldview of life was to place controls on our desire for immediate gratification and to promise ourselves that developing self-control would lead to later rewards. Parents move their children through this natural developmental phase by promising them rewards for being good. Our traditional religions conditioned us towards waiting on “heavenly rewards”. This aspect of our “religious indoctrination” (as one of my wife’s spiritual teachers labels it) silently sits in our subjective consciousness whispering “not yet” as we seek a life of joy.

Then as we evolved beyond the traditional viewpoint into looking at life through a modern materialistic way, we saw the world and everything in it as “external things” that we could manipulate and possess. The earth was a grand toy box and we wanted all the toys. The treadmill of success was never satiated. We always wanted more and more. Obtaining one goal never quite provided lasting joy as we moved on to the next goal.

Yet even as we grow – individually in our own lives and collectively as a society – to higher levels of consciousness and more expansive worldviews – humanistic/cultural creative and integral – we may still carry within us shadow limitations imposed by earlier learning. We may say out loud that we want to experience joy now, but these old patterns of deferring joy to the future or attaching it to obtaining some goal may silently block us.

What’s your story?  Do you limit how much joy you can experience until you…

  • Have more money in your bank account?
  • Get a better job or launch your real career?
  • Have the perfect loving relationship?
  • Have more friends?
  • Finish school or get another degree?
  • Have a better home?
  • When the kids are grown?
  • Finish some project?
  • Get a new car?
  • … And so on…

Complete this sentence: “my life will be joyful when I … ”

The fact is, if you can complete that sentence, then you are unnecessarily waiting for your joy to occur!

Law of attraction 101 – where we focus our attention is what we get in our lives. Our intentions create our outcomes. If we continuously believe that our happiness is in the future, it will always be in the future and never in the present moment. If we continuously believe that our happiness is attached to external circumstances, then we will forever be chasing external circumstances and never realizing our happiness which is really “an inside job”–it really comes from within.

If you are limiting your joy, what can you do? Here are three simple steps –

Step one: develop an awareness of the present. Become aware of how and where you are limiting your happiness currently. How did you complete that sentence above?

Step two: set an intention for the new. Set a fresh intention to experience more joy right here, right now. Put “joy” on your “to do” list at the top and make joy a part of all of your other goals.

Step three: place attention on your present joy. Focus your mind towards all the things that are currently bringing you joy.

For many people, the third step is the hardest. We have a long-standing habit of focusing our attention on what we don’t like and thereby creating more of what we don’t like. We must break that habit by turning our attention away from what we don’t like and towards what we do like. By spending our mental coin on what brings us joy, we will grow more joy in our lives! (Again, LOA 101).

Spending some time each day reflecting upon what we appreciate in our lives as we currently experience is a useful practice. Many people like to keep a “gratitude journal” where they write down all the things they are grateful for and then add to it each day.

So what are you grateful for? Think about it. Create your list. And somewhere on that list make sure it has this item: “I am grateful for the gift of this life experience.”

Know this with me — My life is joyful right now!

See it, feel it, believe it and live it.

Love and blessings!

Mark Gilbert
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Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!

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Photo credit: atomicity / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)