A woman dancing happily with ribbons on the beach

Feeling joy when terrible things are happening

Trigger warning: mental anorexia

There is a Czech blogger that writes about raising children, living a good life in harmony with yourself, and also a bit about spirituality. She lost her husband some time ago, but she managed to find great personal growth from this tragedy, so her posts have a very strong message.

This blogger travels with her children a lot. She is basically worldschooling them, and from everything she writes about them, I believe her to be a great mum.

Lately, she got a message that she shared with us. It went basically like this: “Confess that you are currently abroad! How dare you travel when there is a war going on?”

This stunned me. Since when is traveling something bad to which you have to “confess”? Some Czech people are really masters in judging and envying, often masked as a virtue.

Of course, we should help as much as we can, but I enthusiastically disagree that we shouldn’t feel joy and do joyful activities when something bad is going on in the world. If you don’t recharge your inner resources, from where do you expect to find the strength to help others? If you make yourself miserable just because someone else is miserable, how does it help that person?

I learned this lesson the hard way. I was 14 years old when I felt there is so many terrible things going on in the world that I don’t deserve anything good myself. I stopped eating, stopped dressing warm, I ran with bare legs in the brambles, leaving bleeding wounds, all the time just ran, ran, ran, exhausting my body to its limits. Slowly torturing myself to death.

Only when I ended up in a hospital and they told me I’m dying, it slowly dawned on me that what I was doing was sick. The nurse took my vitals and literally told me: “If you don’t stay here, tonight you may be dead.”

I spent a few months in that hospital, learning to love myself again. (To this day, I still have a long way to go, but it was a beginning.) I mostly learned that I can have empathy and compassion without hurting myself. That hurting myself is a very misguided way how to manifest said empathy. That I deserve to take care of myself, and even look for joy, no matter what is going on. Because joy helps us to survive even the most terrible things.

I won’t let myself feel bad (or let someone make me feel bad! Luckily the blogger mum didn’t as well) because there are difficult things going on in the world. In every single moment, someone on this planet is suffering. If I waited with joy for the moment when everyone is happy, I will never be able to feel it, ever.

I believe that we are supposed to raise the general amount of joy on this planet, and that includes our joy. Actually, our joy is the one we have the most power about. We create joy for ourselves, and then we can create joy for others. It’s like on the plane: Put the oxygen mask on your face first.

By this post, I mean to tell everyone who feels guilty when doing something joyful because there are terrible things going on: Go out there and feel all the joy you can find in this world! Find it in yourself, find it in the things you do. Never ever feel guilty. You owe it to yourself to live the best version of your life. You owe it to the world.

(Originally published on Buymeacoffee.com)


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