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  • Writer's pictureElisa Juarez

Joy Training

March 2024

Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God. -Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

I decided it’s time to pull out my Anne Lamott books again, as her wisdom and humor helped me get through the past several years, including the pandemic. She cleaned the smudges off my glasses so I could see things more clearly. She uncovered some green shoots of hope. I thought she could help me today, as I sit down to write some thoughts on joy.

Joy is a word that I cherish and carry most days, and it seems to be more important than I ever realized. When I focus inward on joy, it reveals itself as a superpower. Anne Lamott says, “That we are designed for joy is exhilarating, within reach, now or perhaps later today, after a nap, as long as we do not mistake excitement for joy. Joy is good cheer…. Joy is always a surprise, and often a decision. Joy is portable. Joy is a habit, and these days, it can be a radical act (Almost Everything).

I no longer underestimate the power of a nap. I’ve had to work at building rest into my routine, and age has brought more wisdom and grace. Rest gives us the capacity for joy. It clears the clutter, calms the soul, and facilitates balance.

Some of us periodically need to repeat the joy training, to rehabilitate that part of us that naturally dims or gets injured by busyness, or just by too much bad news to bear. -Anne Lamott, Almost Everything

This is where I find myself. And what is the joy training? It’s knowing how to reconnect with our curiosity, our present moment awareness, and our higher selves. Anne says, “We are hard-wired with curiosity inside us, because life knew that this would keep us going even in bad sailing.” The waters are rough right now, and it can be very hard to stay steady. I’ve found that joy is like a rudder that can keep me on course, no matter the challenge. And if it helps me, then perhaps sharing it can help steady someone else who’s feeling shaky.

I got my joy training from my dad who lived from a place of joy. He always had a song on his heart and uplifted those around him. Music helped us both get through his Alzheimer’s journey. I turn to music when I am feeling vulnerable, weary, or discouraged. It brings comfort when I am grieving and calm when I am anxious. It gives joy to ordinary days.

Connection is another source of joy, and a key factor in getting through difficult times. We need each other, and a sense of acceptance and belonging brings security, comfort, and joy.

What brings you joy? It’s time we all gather our joy gear to lift humanity out of the mire. The downward pull of politics, violence, hateful rhetoric and negative news could drown us in a sea of darkness. We must set our sails to rise and weather this storm, together. Joy is our strength and our shield, our sail and our rudder. It is Love’s vibration.

Joy isn’t constant cheerfulness, but steady, relentless optimism in the face of cynicism and despair. It is hope and wonder and embracing life with all its messiness. Joy is a radical act. It is bold and brave and true to who we are.

Grace & Gladness,


Elisa J. Juarez

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