The Joy Of Cheerfulness
"Constantly apply cheerfulness, if for no there reason than you are on the spiritual path.
Have a sense of gratitude towards everything, even difficult emotions, because of
their potential to wake you up."
My dear Zen Teacher used to say that, along with enthusiasm for life, being cheerful was one of the highest spiritual qualities we can cultivate within ourselves. "Be cheerful no matter what happens", he used to say over and over, and it was obvious by the way he lived his life that he was practicing what he preached. Of course, the mind (the voice in our head) will protest and say, 'how can I possibly be cheerful when my life is filled with so many problems and challenges to deal with'? However, if you wait for the circumstances in your life to change before you feel you can live with joy, you will likely wait forever. After all, the mind is always telling us that happiness, and thus cheerfulness, can only be experienced when everything becomes 'easier', and unfolds the way we think it should. But the truth is; rarely does everything go the way we think it should, and more importantly, nothing outside of ourselves can ever really give us the fulfillment that we long for, at least not for very long.
For instance; we might get the new job we've always desired, or move to a tropical island, but it won't be long before our predominate mental attitude will reappear, and again color our perception with its energy. So, if you're a person who consistently approaches life with a sense of negativity and sadness, that will end up being what you draw to yourself on a regular basis. Yet, when you simply make up your mind to be cheerful in the face of whatever arises in your life, you will soon find that life begins to reflect that state of cheerfulness and joy back to you. There is even scientific evidence that, when our predominant mental state is filled with negative emotions like depression, anxiety or sadness, the new cells created in our body will have receptors that actually crave more depressed or sad feelings and thoughts. In other words, we become addicted to the feeling of being depressed, sad and negative. Luckily the opposite is also true; if your predominate feelings are those of joy, gratitude and cheerfulness, your cells will have receptors for those feelings instead, and those feelings will grow inside you, thus attracting new circumstances into your life that reflect those positive emotions.
The truth is this; we are 100% responsible for our inner-feeling, and life tends to respond to whatever our predominate 'feeling' is, by giving us more of the same. So if a life of joy is what you truly want, then start to live from a space of cheerfulness and gratitude in everything you do (no matter the circumstances). What you might find is that everything you do begins to feel joyful, and people begin to respond to you in kind - with joy and kindness at every turn. Try it right now; make up your mind that, for the next 24 hours (yes, let's start small), you will greet everything that unfolds in your life with a cheerful and joyous attitude, knowing that everything that happens is happening for your highest benefit. Make it your constant practice, no matter how difficult it may feel. What you might find is that life becomes lighter and more joyous in the process, and each moment becomes a cause for celebrating the unfolding of the adventure of your life. And when your mind tells you that the circumstances of your life are what is preventing you from being cheerful, remember the great Zen question, "If not Now, when?"