Being alive on Earth at this particular moment in time can be an overwhelming thing. We are facing a time of great uncertainty, great chaos, and great fear. By many measures the world is crumbling around us – financial collapse, failing political systems, terrorism, overwhelming corporate power, unprecedented inequality, systemic racism and sexism, mass extinctions, droughts, floods, rising carbon emissions, climate chaos…
If you are a young adult, you are coming of age in these times. As an older adult, you may be shocked by the changes within your lifetime and wonder about the fate of your children or grandchildren.
It is easy (and totally natural!) to feel afraid, overwhelmed, angry, and sad about what is happening to our world. It is also easy to feel alone in these emotions. We belong to a culture that encourages us not to fully experience or express our emotions, particularly the so called “negative” ones. This means that we often don’t talk about our fear, our anger, or our grief, but simply pretend that we are fine, that we aren’t freaking out.
So, Why Joyality?
Well, because if you’re paying attention to what’s happening to our world you are probably not fine. You may feel distressed, angry, sad, scared, hopeless, disempowered, even truly depressed. The Joyality Program is an outlet and a resource for you to express and process those feelings, move through them in one piece, and come out the other side stronger, more able to connect deeply with nature, yourself, and other people, and empowered and energized to actively create change. Every human being has the power to make the world a better place and every human being has the right to experience joy and to find their own Joyality.
“The refusal to feel takes a heavy toll… The energy expended in pushing down despair is diverted from more creative uses, depleting the resilience and imagination needed for fresh visions and strategies. ”
– Joanna Macy
The Two Stories of Our Time
There are two opposing stories about the world that are influential and widely played out in our society. The first is “Business as Usual”. This story tells us that everything is fine, and concerns over climate change, social inequality or corporate power are either exaggerated or simply untrue. It says that we can keep shopping, driving our cars and watering our lawns – just continue on with our lives as though nothing is wrong, because it isn’t. The second story is “The Great Unraveling”. This story tells us that everything is falling apart, from our financial and political systems to our planet’s ecosystems, and that the world is basically ending and that there’s nothing we can do about it.
Both of these stories are tempting to believe, and both of them could be true, if we make them so. But they both end in total destruction and the end of life on Earth as we know it. That seems like a pretty terrible ending to our story.
But there is another story, many other stories actually, that we can choose to believe in and work to bring into reality. One version of this story is “The Great Turning”. This story tells us that we are at a critical point in time at which we are transitioning from an industrial, extractive, and destructive society to a cooperative, life-sustaining, and regenerative way of life on Earth. It says that what is happening on Earth at this time is both a tragedy and an opportunity, an invitation to look up, look around, look within, and to work to create a world in which human society and fulfillment does not come at the cost of other lives or at the cost of losing the only home we have.*
The stories that we tell ourselves, both personally and culturally, have immense power to create our reality. We choose this story, and we hope you will too. Throughout the Joyality Program we will have the opportunity to explore what “The Great Turning” means and what your role in this story could be.
For all the talk about sustainability, it is not often we truly examine this word and what it means to us. Sustainability in and of itself is not necessarily a positive thing, something may be technically “sustainable” without being worthy of being sustained. Additionally, the word sustainability gets thrown around so casually nowadays it can be easy to forget what it even means, or what aspects of its meaning we want to connect to. It is important to stop and ask ourselves what is worth sustaining in this world and what it is that we wish to sustain?
** Try this: What Is It You Want to Sustain? (15 mins)
Hopefully that process helped you identify more specifically what it is that you love about life on planet Earth, what is important to you, and what is worth working to sustain.
Just as it is important to explore the world around you to discover its essence, it is equally important to explore yourself in the same way. We are often being told who or how to be. We are deeply influenced by those around us, and by the greater cultures and contexts of which we are a part. At times it can be deeply confusing and fracturing. It can feel impossible to wade through all of that and actually find ourselves, who we truly are, and feel comfortable in our own skin. Yet this journey of finding ourselves is one of the most important, most essential, and most necessary we can undertake. It is vital not only to our own lives and our own Joyality, but also to our ability to heal the world.
** Try this: Who Am I? (15 mins)
“The biggest gift you can give is to be absolutely present, and when you’re worrying about whether you’re hopeful or hopeless or pessimistic or optimistic, who cares? The main thing is that you’re showing up, that you’re here and that you’re finding ever more capacity to love this world because it will not be healed without that. That is what is going to unleash our intelligence and our ingenuity and our solidarity for the healing of our world.”
– Joanna Macy
So, how do we really ‘show up’? How do we practise being fully present and aware? Here’s a practice to get you started.
Try this: Focusing (30 mins)
Now that you’ve practiced some grounding exercises, exploring why you’re on this journey, and where you’re at right now, it’s time to introduce some core ideas of the toolkit.