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Joyful Effort

Joyful effort is the fourth of the six perfections. The other five are: generosity, kindness, patience, meditation, and wisdom. When you reflect on these qualities in your meditation, and then bring them into your life, you begin to notice your life changing. Your heart opens, your world expands. You contact the natural warmth, goodness, and joy that is available in each moment.

Virya paramita —  is the fourth perfection of joyful effort. The heart essence of this practice is taking joy in helping others.

Once, a student asked his teacher, Ramana Maharshi: “How are we to treat others?”

Ramana Maharshi replied, “There are no others.”

In considering what it means to take joy in helping others, it is important to remember that you are included in “others.” You are not separate from others. When you care for yourself, you are benefitting others. When you care for others, you are benefitting yourself. The perfection of joyful effort through the practice of taking care of others is not about ignoring your own needs to put others first, but a rather a recognition that caring for others increases your own happiness and enjoyment of life. It is why you are here.

Here are five suggestions for how you can feel more joyful effort:

1. Remember your intention. Reflect on your larger reasons for why you do what you do.

2. Recognize and honor all the ways in which you naturally care for others, and rejoice in that goodness!

3. Practice gratitude and express appreciation for your life and the opportunities to care for and be cared for.

4. Let go of joyless striving. Let go of all “shoulds” and “supposed to’s”. Let go of doing things that you can’t do with joy (or find a way to increase your joy in doing them).

5. Smile– while meditating, while sitting at your computer (go ahead, try it now ;-), while walking down the street. While helping others. Notice how this simple gesture brings a quality of joyfulness to your experience.

The poet David Whyte reminds us that “Joy can be made by practiced, hard-won achievement as much as by an unlooked for, passing act of grace arriving out of nowhere.”

Join Kelly Lindsey for a live, online, interactive class to dive deeper into the Six Perfections! This series begins on January 29th on Mind Oasis. Learn more here.

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