Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, “ Find out where joy resides and give it a voice. For to miss the joy is to miss all.” If we want to be happy with our life, we need to practice being happy in our life. Rather than simply reacting to whatever comes along, we can practice choosing our response. Discovering we are free to choose joy brings joy into our experiences. Unless we find the joy resident in us, and give that joy a voice through us by living our life with joy, we miss all. For all that is available for us to experience as our life depends on where we look first for it, and what what inspires our thoughts, feelings, words, and actions.
We can’t force joy when we are looking for a reason to feel it outside our self and can’t find one. In fact, we all know how irritating it is when someone tells us to “cheer up” when we don’t feel like it! Encouragement from outside us, without our willingness to experience joy inside us, often causes us to feel joy even less. The good news is discouragement from others has no power to decrease our joy when we choose to feel it no matter what. Joy arises and increases within us through our willingness to receive it. When we let it, it flows to us on currents of Love with effortless grace and ease.
Labor Day is the perfect time to ask the question, “If we are free to feel joy effortlessly, why would we choose to struggle so hard to make a life we enjoy? If we are free to be happily doing whatever we are doing, why would we choose to do anything feeling obligation, duty and sacrifice? Most of the time it is because we’ve forgotten our freedom to choose.This world teaches us that the only way to have anything we want in life is to work hard to it–to keep our nose to the grindstone and only look up on weekends and holidays. Is it any wonder that the way we celebrate Labor Day is by taking the day off and “not laboring”? Labor doesn’t sound like fun even if it’s supposed to bring us success. And, the fact is, hard work doesn’t always bring about what we want in life anyway. Many people who work hard don’t become successful by the standards of the world, or even by their own standards. Sometimes hard work is just hard work!
There may be plenty of people who work hard and practice sacrifice and struggle, and get successful results in relationship to others who are practicing the same sort of thing. But, as spiritual beings, the success we all crave comes from the joy and freedom of selfless service, a giving that is not looking for anything in return. Spiritual Labor is an action of the heart. Because a Labor of Love is a Work of God there is no burden in it. Love does all the work. Struggle and sacrifice are actions of the head. When what we’re doing is out of guilt, pity, obligation, duty, to look good to others, or to win someone’s approval, whatever we do is made small, restricted and selfish.
We read in the Book of Matthew, “Freely you have received; freely give.” We don’t need to labor to prosper. All is given freely to us from within us. We don’t need to struggle so hard to understand life and get what we need in life. Life understands us and has already given us all we need to live a life of joy. We are free to live our dreams without laboring so hard because our dreams reside where our joy resides, within us, which is where the creative power to bring about our dreams also resides. We don’t need to “sweat” to make our dreams come true. We just need to allow them to come through. We give them a voice through the power of our conviction, and our affirmation that they are ours to live because they live in us. We don’t need to make a life worth living. A life worth living already resides in us. All we need to do is stop getting in the way of our joy by not enjoying life. No matter what experts on success have been telling us for eons, we are free to celebrate every day the way we celebrate Labor Day, without laboring. When what we do, we do for Love, all we do is accomplished with grace and ease.
When we give freely with no agenda, with no other intention but to share our gift of love, we feel so good we want to give more of it. We feel generous and expansive in our soul. When we find where joy resides, we find there is no limit to our ability or desire to joyfully give to all. It’s like having an over-abundant harvest of fruits and vegetables from our garden that we couldn’t possibly eat by our self. We give to friends, but we still have plenty more. So we give to our neighbors, yet we still have more. Eventually we put a table out in front of our house with a sign that reads: “Take as much as you need. It’s free!” That is what the God of our Creation tells us every moment. Every moment we receive freely from our Inner Source of Love. It’s up to us to find It resident within us so that we can give It freely.