The other day I saw post on one of my social network sites that said something like this, “You can live in peace and joy 100% of the time and I can show you how.” My first response was, pardon my language, “Bullshit!” I knew this was a blog post that I needed to write. Living in joy and peace is wonderful but let’s face it there are events that will happen in life that will knock you off your peace and joy. They may be silly things like someone cutting you off in traffic; or they may be painful, sorrowful and deep—a personal crisis, like a death or illness in the family; or a world tragedy like a natural disaster or a human made one like the shooting in Norway. Promising peace and joy 100% of the time is saying that the sadness and pain of life won’t affect you, you won’t struggle with it and in my opinion is 100% denial of the human experience.
No one gets through life without bumps, bruises and pain. When I see someone promising that life won’t knock me around, I want to sarcastically ask “What drugs are you trying to sell me?” If Jesus, the master teacher had moments of anger (money lenders in the temple) and doubt and agony (his time in the garden—let this cup pass, the crucifixion), I’d be leery of anyone who would think they could only have peace and joy. (I’m dipping back into my Catholic upbringing here but I know there are examples in other faith traditions too.)
My sense is that the person who posted this has a really good heart but is getting caught up in the need to market their services. Marketing 101—find a pain you solve and tell people who you help them handle that pain. The human animal is programmed to avoid pain and seek pleasure. So from a marketing perspective, this person is trying to help people seek the pleasure of the human experience. Maybe it is good marketing. Who wouldn’t like peace and joy 100% of the time? After all very few people walk around saying, “I think I want some pain so I can learn something or experience fully what it is like to be human.”
Golda Meir said, “Those who don’t know how to weep with their whole heart don’t know how to laugh either.” She was right. We set ourselves up for more pain when we buy into a notion that there will only be joy and peace, we begin to live inauthentic lives and by-pass the true beauty of the human experience. My belief is life is rich because it is messy; it has ups and downs. Unless we are open to the whole ride, we can’t fully experience being human. Sorrow is often the emotion that cracks us open and makes us available to knowing how beautiful and fragile life can be. Our connection to our spirit helps us move through those difficult times, knowing that we are more than our physical world experience in this moment but it shouldn’t be used to pretend that these challenging real world experiences won’t happen.
I really don’t know what the intention was of the person who posted this but I must thank that person for reminding me to keep it real and to fully experience each facet of being human, knowing that when I don’t try to resist pain or sorrow or a lack of peace in this moment, I am actually saying “yes” to life.
What do you think? Are you seduced by someone who says you can life in 100% joy and peace? Did I miss something? What would you add?