Reflections on Joy

Of all the lessons Buckley taught me, living a joyful life was probably the single most important one.   When I think about Buckley, joy is always the first thought that comes into my mind, even during those moments when I still miss her so much that it feels like my heart will break all over again.  

Joy is the word that, more than anything else, defines Buckley’s spirit. 

She was a joyful being, and she brought joy to everyone who came into contact with her. Joy can be an elusive quality for many of us, but it is the ultimate goal of a life well lived. Webster’s defines joy as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune, or by the prospect of possessing what one desires,” “the expression or exhibition of such emotion,” “a state of happiness” and “a source or cause of delight.” Buckley fit all these definitions. She was a joyful little cat. Her entire being was an expression of joy, and her every activity was infused with the essence of joy. She was a constant source of happiness and delight for me, whether I was simply watching her watch the birds in the backyard or whether she was curled up sleeping peacefully on my lap.

Joy is the opposite of depression, worry, and fear. Joy is what we all ultimately strive for in our lives, whether we think of it in those terms or not. We often feel that joy is far out of our reach, that our day-to-day lives weigh us down with the sheer number of demands that are made on us by work, family, and friends and often by the simple task of just living in the world. There are times when we feel we have forgotten how joy feels and we can hardly even get a glimpse of it. So, rather than making the pursuit of joy and happiness our main reason for being, we often give up and resign ourselves to a life of tedium, monotony, and apathy. Buckley demonstrated to me how to find joy every day. By living in the present without worrying about the future or letting thoughts of the past drag her down, this little cat showed me how to find the small joys in each moment.

(Adapted from Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher.)

How do the animals in your life teach you about living a joyful life?

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