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Developing Joy vs. Cultivating Anxiety

Incorporating a daily practice of a simple visualization will help you develop and experience sympathetic joy.

Recently a good friend said to me, “I just feel like everything is happening for the people around me and I am waiting for things to happen for me.”  Do you ever feel that way?  I often remind people that there is joy to be had for others, that there are things happening for us even though they may not seem as “meaningful”, and well small wins are still wins. 

Social comparison can cultivate anxiety and depression.

Social comparison is so easy for us to do these days and can cause a great deal of anxiety. Seeing the perfection of people, exploiting material and physical expectations, and exposure to the stories people want to share can be detrimental to our mental health if we all it to be. With more and more ways to be connected, we are more and more disconnected, depressed, and anxious about our place in this world. 

The World Health Organization has shared that 1 out of 13 people are plagued with anxiety and the most common type of anxiety in the world is social.  This makes me so sad because the connection to others is one of the easiest ways for us to combat depression and anxiety.  In a world where there are so many ways to be connected, we are more and more disconnected and isolated than ever before.

Social media isn’t going away anytime soon.  The amount of information we are exposed to, day in and day out, will not get smaller, it will increase.  Disconnection will continue if we don’t engage with people outside of the internet. Comparison, judgement, and envy will thrive in this environment if we don’t do something to shift our thinking and change how we interact with social media and perceive other people’s successes.

Develop joy from comparison.

Have you heard of sympathetic joy This is a feeling of happiness for ALL other beings, to include your enemies, competition, and people you don’t know.  There is a simple practice that can be done every day for just a few minutes that will really help open you up to feeling constant joy for others and even yourself.

Set aside a few uninterrupted minutes a day to imagine something joyful happening for:

  • yourself
  • someone you love
  • someone you know but not well
  • someone you dislike strongly
  • someone that has harmed you

When I say imagine, I mean visualize.  A true visualization has some key elements to make them more effective.  First, you must picture and describe with detail what you or the other person looks like, feels like, and is experiencing.  Details will allow the visualization to be more real and tangible.  Additionally, emotional intensity is key to creating a connection to the visualization. It is not easy to imagine something joyful happening to your worst enemy or someone who has caused you harm.  

What happens when you take the power back?

If you develop a practice of learning sympathetic joy, you may develop a sense of gratitude for all of the wonderful information you see on social media and for those around you.  You may open yourself up to a world where there is room for everyone, and abundance will come.  And finally, you may develop a deeper sense of connection with yourself and others allowing you to celebrate and attract people regardless of circumstance bringing you even more joy and less anxiety.

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