While walking my dog and indulging in my newest addiction, podcasts, I heard a line that stopped me in my tracks…literally. I had to pause in my walk and immediately jot down what was said. My dog looked confused tugged at the leash, but to no avail, the wheels of an inspiration had hit. People drove by silently judging (I used to be one of them!) the woman who was ignoring her dog to be on her phone. I now no longer silently judge people walking and typing on their phones…might be creative inspiration at work. They need to be encouraged with padded electrical poles and perhaps a moving sidewalk.
This particular podcast which I was unable to locate on the website as it was an older episode was discussing Thanksgiving and gratitude (Ologies with Alie Ward), and in the discussion, the words came up “undentable joy.” A visual image of someone being barraged with negativity with a layer of insulation while they existed in a state of calm and peace came immediately to mind. Well, Pandora’s box had been opened, and ideas began to flow about what undentable joy looked like and how one could obtain it in their own life.
Please know that when I discuss undentably joy I am discussing it in terms of day-to-day life, its ups and downs. Extreme life events like grief and loss are circumstances where discussing undentable joy seems inappropriate. That being said, joy never travels alone, and while it takes a back seat in certain circumstances, it is replaced by its cohorts of resilience and hope.
Undentable joy is not running around in a state of perma-grin. It is not exuding positivity inauthentically. It is the ability to be live in a state of mindfulness and delight that is not dependent on life to be good, but that to live is good.
Undentable joy is a choice, but it’s a choice that needs strengthening. Thinking about undentable joy as a practice, I began to recognize areas in my life this year where I have been building up my insulation. Humor, limiting negative social media and news, a good dose of nature and surrounding myself with uplifting books and podcasts have been a few ways I keep myself in the joy zone. The big two though by far have been a daily practice of gratitude and meditation which I started earlier this year.
You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour. – Zen proverb.
Five minutes, five minutes is all it has taken to bring me from constant mind chatter to mental quiet and being present. I’m not saying I achieve this all the time, and even this morning, I found myself meditating on my grocery list. When I started this practice, the peace and calm did not come right away, but gradually. I started to notice things more like the way the wind stirred the autumn leaves and how one leaf drifted down like an elegant Mary Poppins. My emotions were a little more even keeled and less led by the anxious roommate in my brain. I occupied the present more than the future.
Every day mentally or in my journal, I list three things I am grateful for. My gratitude has extended from being thankful for big things like family and shelter to appreciating a simple cup of coffee and fuzzy pajama pants. Gratitude has a way of weaving itself through the day and taking away reasons to complain. The size of the gratitude does not seem to matter, what seems matter is where your focus goes.
Meditation and gratitude have made it possible to stay more often in a state of undentable joy. Without these practices, I would turn to guilt …I should be happier, why can’t I be more positive and relaxed, but the effectiveness of guilt is demonstrated in my daily exercise regimen (non-existent).
Well, there you have it, my sidewalk musings. I am curious though, what are some of your undentable joy builders?