Invitation from the box: Living joyfully

This is a piece that will introduce thoughts that come out from a box. The box is a metaphor for a place where we dump our unwanted and undesired thoughts, words and deeds, and taking a step back to look at it from outside the box; trying to make sense what those things are about.

This is a way to think about life and how we want to make it more meaningful. If there was little to no thinking about our own shortcomings and how it has impacted our lives, and those around us, we would be nothing more than just a lifeless being? Dead in effect!

Imagine a corpse? Motionless. Not contributing to life. Not doing anything? No life. A liability. A biohazard. A decomposing body can be considered a potential biohazard because the fluids released after death can sometimes carry bloodborne pathogens.

Therefore, being alive can mean that we have a responsibility to think about our own life, and we have a responsibility to maybe make it good so that we may bring joy to the people around us. That they may be positively impacted!

It seemed that the only reason we are alive is joy. We only came to being because two people came together out of joy. And at birth, we were received with joy. And it was the only reason we continued to live!

In today’s world, I believe it can be very difficult to appreciate this. However, we can begin to appreciate it if we started to emulate the behaviours of those who enabled us to be conceived, and those who received us at birth.

As a mental health practitioner, it also seemed to me that unless we deliberately make the efforts to live joyfully, our internal negative self is going to consume us. Science has informed us that on any given day, the human mind thinks about more negative thoughts than positive thoughts, all because of this chemical in our brain called cortisol. Our brain loves it!

It’s like an alarm system, where it will warn us about an imminent danger. It keeps us on our toes to fight or flight. It triggers with a snap, which means negative thoughts come more easily than positive thoughts. The truth of the matter also, it is helpful at times.

Anyway, that being the case. We want to find a way to deflect those negatives ahead of time, by deliberately cultivating an automatic reflex towards cortisol flow.

To do so, I propose a commitment to some daily expression of joy. Something concrete like using words of appreciation, cooking for someone, giving hugs, seeking forgiveness, giving the benefit of doubt, taking a walk, holding hands, etc.

The externalisation of such joy in thought and deed, whether we are predisposed to doing it or not at that moment in time, will gradually lead us to automatically responding to a cortisol flow with a snap as well! It becomes a conditioned behaviour; a habit!

It is like going on a vine walk on an adventure rope course. Participants must cross on the foot cable to the other side, and vines have varying lengths and spacing making each step a challenging adventure. Unless we let go of the vine behind us, we are not going to move forward to the next.

Similarly, unless we let go of our natural ways of perceiving everything in the negatives, and embrace the vines of joy, it would be challenging to experience the newness of what life is meant to be. Joy! The process of letting go and moving along is joy as well. It is growth!

If we deliberately and consistently express joy everyday of our lives. I venture a prediction that there will come a day even when it’s time for us to return back to nature, like how we came to being through nature, we leave behind the joy with all those who received us once again! What a circle of joy to behold!

Contributed by Nicholas Gabriel Lim

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