Big Deal Joy and Big Deal Unhappiness

Pema Chodron | Comfortable With Uncertainty

Being able to lighten up is the key to feeling at home with your body, mind, and emotions, to feeling worthy to live on this planet. For example, you can hear the slogan ‘Always maintain only a joyful mind’ and start beating yourself over the head for never being joyful. That kind of witness is a bit heavy.

This earnestness, this seriousness about everything on our lives-including practice-this goal-oriented, we’re going-to-do-it-or-else attitude, is the world’s greatest killjoy. There’s no sense of appreciation because we’re so solemn about everything. In contrast, a joyful mind is very ordinary and relaxed. So lighten up. Don’t make such a big deal.

When your aspiration is to lighten up, you begin to have a sense of humor. Your serious state of mind keeps getting popped. In addition to a sense of humor, a basic support for a joyful mind is curiosity, paying attention, taking an interest in the world around you. Happiness is not required, but being curious without a heavy judgmental attitude helps. If you are judgemental, you can even be curious about that.

Curiosity encourages cheering up. So does simply remembering to do something different. We are so locked into this sense of burden — Big Deal Joy and Big Deal Unhappiness — that it’s sometimes helpful just to change the pattern. Anything out of the ordinary will help. You can go to the window and look at the sky, you can splash cold water on your face, you can sing in the shower, you can go jogging — anything that’s against your usual pattern. That’s how things start to lighten up.

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