Acceptance: a firm foundation for joy

joy acceptance

I found a meditation this week that is designed to help us accept our life moment by moment without judgement or the expectation for life to be other than what it is. Core mindfulness content indeed.

What surprised me was where I found this particular meditation. It is in a book called ‘The Book of Joy’. One step in the meditation is to think of a situation that you are having a hard time accepting. The next step is to remind yourself that this is the nature of reality because painful realities happen to us, those we love and are all around us in the world. The meditation is based on the idea that any possibility of joy requires an acceptance of reality. (If this stuff was easy, we wouldn’t have to work at it!).

The final step is to choose to recite or reflect on one of two passages, one from the Buddhist and one from the Christian tradition.

If something can be done about it,
what need is there for dejection?
And if nothing can be done about it,
what use is there for being dejected?
Shantideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva

God, give us the grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Reinhold Niebuhr, The Serenity Prayer

Sometimes acceptance of a situation is our destination; at other times as we accept a situation we see a way forward – an action we can choose to take – and therein is the possibility of joy.

This is Mindful Monday on 3 December 2018.

Join Julie Hill and Sara Shailer to explore growing in joy tonight at the Oasis in Cheltenham, 7.30-9 pm. Email to book your place.

Fragile and joyful?

The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, taken from


“We are fragile creatures, and it is from this weakness, not despite it, that we discover the possibility of true joy,” says the Archbishop.

And so begins the book I am reading which records the conversations of the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu meeting for a week in April 2015 to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s eightieth birthday – and share their wisdom on how to live with joy in the face of life’s inevitable sorrows.

The Book of Joy is co-written by Douglas Abrams who is Jewish (and secular) so there is a lightness in the midst of wisdom: A Buddhist, a Christian and a Jew walk into a bar . . .

This is an encouraging book. As well as a lightness, it also feels earthed in reality and offers interesting perspectives, like the idea of mental immunity.

“If your health is strong, when viruses come they will not make you sick. If your overall health is weak, even small viruses will be very dangerous for you. Similarly, if your mental health is sound, then when disturbances come, you will have some distress but quickly recover. If your mental health is not good, then small disturbances, small problems will cause you much pain and suffering. . . .¬† One must develop the mind over time and cultivate mental immunity. . . . Like the ocean has many waves on the surface but deep down it is quite calm. This is possible if we know how to develop mental immunity,” says the Dalai Lama.

The Archbishop agrees but wants to emphasise that we need to accept ourselves as we are, emotions and all. He urges us to avoid judging ourselves too harshly but instead identify our emotions, positive and negative (calm and turbulent), as they happen, helping us understand ourselves better. “There will be times when we catch a cold, and we should not make it worse by beating up on ourselves.”

I am encouraged that two spiritual masters meet Рand reflect on fragility, emotions and the natural bent to beat ourselves up! These are the things of living we can relate to Рbe glad, celebrate, enjoy the common human experience.

This is Mindful Monday on 26 November 2018.

Join Julie Hill and Sara Shailer for an evening of mindfulness on the theme of growing in joy on Monday 3 December, 7.30 to 9 pm at the Oasis in Cheltenham.

There is no charge for the event – just make a donation towards room hire on the night if you are able. However, we do like to know numbers ahead of time so please book by emailing

And if you are coming bring a photo of something that gives you joy – just one photo so enjoy selecting it!