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Real Joy, Right Now

Do you often hear yourself saying, "When such and such happens, then I'll be happy"? Why wait for happiness when it's available to you right now, at this moment?

By Sally Kempton

The main things Joel had going for him were his wife's willingness to hang in with him, a habit of meditation, and the teachings of the spiritual path he'd been following since 1979. He is a student of Siddha Yoga, a tradition that emphasizes integrating inner practice with daily life, and Joel had, as he puts it, "somehow developed enough of an understanding of how life works to accept what was happening."

Joel found himself turning again and again to a statement from Siddha spiritual master Swami Muktananda: "Meditation gives you the power to be happy even when you're unhappy." He'd always heard that as a promise—that regular meditation practice puts you in touch with the state of wholeness beyond the superficial mind, the part of you that can withstand assaults on your well-being. But as he turned it over in his mind, he realized that Muktananda's statement could be interpreted in a broader sense—not just as a kind of press release for meditation practice but as encouragement to accept unhappiness, instead of trying to escape or bypass it.

"This realization was big for me, because I have a real attachment to being happy," he says. "But the more I relaxed into the situation, the better I got at dealing with it and the more I was able to feel OK with whatever was going on."

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Reader Comments

joan kushner

why do you think that taking prozac gives one 'contenment'? it's simply not true.

shirley knudsen

Tjhank you for giving me some hope with your amazing article "Real Joy Right Now".
I am in a terribly dark place right now .Instead of my boys leaving "the nest" I had to leave my 3 teenage sons to follow my husband up the "corporate ladder to another town 200 miles away. Having just arrived my mother died suddenly of a heart attack, my brother died shortly after of bowel cancer and a short time my husband was out on his mountain bike and had a massive heart attack and died instantly. I didn't even get to say "good-bye to him". My 3 sons all live far away and I feel very alone.
I will work through what you have written and thank you once again for giving me hope.

Shirley Knudsen


What a fitting article. I claimed bankruptcy and lost my job all in one year and I am about to go on social assistance, if I qualify. As weird as it sounds, I am even afraid to say I am at peace. It is as if the universe gave me an opportunity to start over again and this time to make things right. I feel a sense of contentment at the moment, however, can only imagine a small voice in my head saying "how can you be so calm?" I respond to it by saying the universe shall provide.

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