Living with Joy: Book Notes

Living With Joy is one of the most powerful books I have ever read. It is also not for everyone. I stumbled across this book on Amazon over one year ago, and keep a personal Cliffs Notes of my highlights that I re-read as often as I can. The book, "Living with Joy: Keys to Personal Power and Spiritual Transformation" was written in 1986 by Sanaya Roman and covers a the following topics: optimism, changing the negative into the positive, self-respect, self-esteem, inner truth, love (both ourselves and others), gratitude, inner peace, balance, freedom, embracing the new, taking great leaps, and higher/life purpose, among many other topics. I say that it is not for everyone because it is a deep and spiritual book - not distilled for the mainstream with real-world context, facts and figures. It was difficult for me to pare my notes down enough for a blog post (and a long one at that!), but first a little background on why I decided to post these notes today. A Personal Note Yesterday was the memorial service for my grandfather, and while I did cry as my dad spread his ashes into the San Francisco bay, it was also one of the most purely joyful days I have ever experienced. It was a gorgeous, clear sunny day with crisp blue skies. My entire extended family on my dad's side (and my mom) departed from Sausalito on a boat into the bay, traveling under the Golden Gate bridge, taking pictures, catching up, and looking through an album of photos showcasing my grandfather's life. The youngest person on the boat was my cousin's 4-month old baby boy, and the oldest was in his 80s. Despite the circumstances, it was a celebration of life, family, beauty, nature and of a great man, James Blake Sr. As the boat flew across the bay, with wind and water splashing in my face, I looked out onto the gorgeous San Francisco skyline and I felt overwhelmed with intense appreciation for the people I love. There was nowhere else on earth I wanted to be.

Living with Joy: Book Notes There is no question that attending a memorial service or losing a loved one renews appreciation for our own lives and of the lives of those still with us. The reason I am posting these notes today is because this book is about bringing that gratitude and sense of clarity directly into the forefront of our lives. It is about living with joy, not just experiencing it during life's major ups and downs. Each heading below represents the name of a chapter. The notes are loooong - but for fear of distilling them too much, I decided to keep it that way.

You Can Live Joyfully

  • You may have many reasons why you cannot change your life right now. If you do not begin to create reasons why you can, change will always be a future thought.
  • Know that you are always being shown the next step; it is always something that comes to your mind as an obvious, simple and joyful thing to do.
  • You know what would bring you joy tomorrow. When you wake up, ask yourself what you could do with the day that would bring you joy and delight. Put a smile on your face, rather than focusing on how you are going to get through another day. Don’t focus on the problems you have to handle.
  • Ask what you can do to let go of a power struggle or an issue that is going on in your life and draining your energy. What can you do tomorrow to free up a little more time to find inner peace?
  • You will have joy only when you focus on having it and settle for nothing less.
  • Many of your challenges on the path of joy will be to step outside of power struggles and come from a deep level of compassion. If a friend snaps at you or is unfriendly, step back, and with a sense of compassion, try to experience life from her perspective.
  • You have so much to be grateful for, your excellent mind and your unlimited potential. You have the ability to create anything you want; the only limits are those you create for yourself. Wake up in the morning and affirm your freedom. Hold up your higher vision and live the most joyful life you can imagine.

Changing the Negative into the Positive

  • You may be tempted to look back at the past with regret. You may think of many higher, more loving ways you could have handled some things. Yet those very incidents provided you with the growth that allows you now to see a better way of behaving.
  • What you have now would not be possible without those experiences. You cannot leave something until you love it. The more you hate something the more behind you are to it, and the more you love it the freer you are.
  • Every time you think of a bad memory that makes you feel sorry for yourself, or bad about how you acted, or makes you see yourself as a victim, or makes you hold a negative picture of yourself, Stop! See what good you created from the experience. It may be that you learned so much from it you never again brought that kind of behavior back into your life. It may be that because of that situation, you changed your path. It may have brought you an important connection or helped develop new qualities and personality traits. You may have served and helped many people in that job.
  • If you are facing decisions or troubles, imagine yourself five years from now looking back at today, viewing the overall picture. Your future self is real and separated from you only by time. It can talk to you and help you know what to do right now, how to get where you want to go even more quickly.
  • If you focus on something wrong with another person you can make it even larger. The things that were working in your relationship before will not start working. The more you focus on problems between you, or on what is wrong with other people, the more you will find relationships going downhill. The more you focus on bringing out the good in other people, problems will begin to resolve themselves, even though you haven’t worked directly on finding solutions.
  • The more you point out to others all the ways they are bad or wrong, the more insecure you make them, and from that base of insecurity you actually create and enlarge the problems you focus on.

The Art of Self Love

  • I am sure if I asked you to make a list of things to do that would be loving to yourself you would be able to think of many. There may be a part of you that reminds you that you’re not carrying those things out, and a battle begins. This inner war can be draining and making yourself wrong is not a right use of energy.
  • The challenge of loving the self is to step aside from everything you are told, and ask, “Does this fit me? Does this bring me joy? Do I feel good when I do it?” It is ultimately your own experience that counts.
  • Self-love also involves humility. Humility says, “I am open. I am willing to listen. I may not have all the answers.” Only those who feel good about who they are can express humility.
  • People who love themselves come across as very loving, generous and kind; they express their self-confidence through humility, forgiveness and inclusiveness.
  • Don’t take yourself so seriously.
  • Laugh and play. It’s not the end of the world if something doesn’t go right. The quality of humor is perhaps one of the greatest doorways to self-love. The ability to laugh, to smile at others, and to put your problems into perspective is an evolved skill. Those who come from a high level of self-love are often humerous, have a great wit, and love to bring out the childlike playfulness in others. They are willing to be spontaneous, often find reasons to smile, are able to make others feel at ease and to be happy themselves.

Self-Respect, Self-Esteem and Self-Worth

  • What you require for self-esteem is not necessarily what another person requires. It is important to discover what makes you feel worthy, confident and happy about who you are.
  • Self-respect at the highest levels comes from honoring your soul. This means speaking and acting from a level of integrity and honesty that reflects your higher self. It means standing by what you believe in (you don’t, however, have to convince others to believe in it), and acting in a way that reflects your values.
  • Often, what you think are your values turn out to be the “shoulds” given to you by others, and when you actually live them you find they don’t work for you.
  • Self-esteem means believing in yourself, knowing that you did the best you knew how, even though two days later you could see a better way. It involves making yourself right rather than wrong and allowing yourself to feel good about who you are. Some of you try very hard all the time, pushing yourselves, rushing around and feeling that whatever you do, it is not enough. Trying and working hard to get things done is not necessarily the road to joy. Respect yourself by following your inner flow. Rest, play, think, and take time to get silent. Doing those things that nurture you are ways to increase your self-esteem.
  • Remember that you count, you are important, and that you have a unique and special contribution to make to the world. Know that you are a special being. Your dreams, fantasies and goals are as important as anyone else’s.

Refining the Ego – Recognizing Who You Are

  • Think of people you know who have changed your life. In knowing them you felt inspired and expanded. Think of how they used their influence. It is important to recognize people who are full of light, for they come in many forms and packages.
  • When you pay attention to your doubts and fears, to that little voice saying, “You’re not good enough,” you are simply giving heed to your lower self. You have the ability to change your focus.
  • Pay attention to your higher nature, and your lower one will simply wither from lack of attention.
  • You have also seen people who are truly evolved, who smile, who recognize greatness in other people, whose focus is assisting and helping. That is true power. It comes from the inner image you hold of yourself. You do not need to tell people if you are peaceful or focused; they know it.
  • True power can be seen in the eyes. There is such love in the eyes of those who are truly powerful, and they look at you directly. They do not avoid your eyes, but look straight into them. You feel they really care about you. They pay attention to what you are saying. Do you give that kind of alert awareness to people? Do you pay attention?
  • Truly powerful people have great humility. They do not try to impress, they do not try to be influential. They simply are. People are magnetically drawn to them. They are most often very silent and focused, aware of their core selves.
  • Think for a moment, if you had six months to live, what would be the most important thing you would want to finish and leave behind? What would you change about your life right now? What limits do you have now that you would do away with? If you were to leave behind one gift to the planet, what would it be?

Love: Knowing the Wisdom of the Heart

  • You can increase the love in your life by looking forward, letting go of your past patterns, and believing in your ability to love even more than you have ever loved in the past.
  • Acknowledging people and acknowledging yourself is another way to experience love.
  • Love operates in the present, and by focusing upon it in the present, you send it into the future and release it to the past.

Opening to Receive

  • Every time you recognize the love you have, you increase it. One of the laws of receiving is that recognizing when you have gotten something increases it in your life, and every time you do not acknowledge something you make it so much harder to have more sent to you.
  • The more you focus on what is wrong, the more wrong you will create in your life; the more it will spread to other areas that WERE working. The more you concentrate on what is right in your life, what is working, the more other areas of your life will work.
  • Learning to receive is learning to ask for the essence of what you want, rather than the form.
  • Often when you ask for something, you will find yourself going through unexpected changes to prepare you for having it. The universe will immediately send you many experiences to open up and change your attitude, so that you can have what you requested.
  • Sometimes you must let go of certain things to have what you have asked for. It may be that you need to release a thought, friend, useless activity, or a high level of worry.
  • Every time you imagine having something, challenge yourself – imagine having even more! If you want a house, a friend, or lover, any relationship, a car, a life of leisure – fantasize about it, and enlarge the vision. Fantasy can lead to higher purpose.
  • Whatever you appreciate and give thanks for will increase in your life.

Feeling Inner Peace

  • Part of growth is learning to create that feeling without being dependant upon things turning out a certain way or needing people to respond to you in a specific way.  You become the center, rather than reacting, waiting for others or for situations and events in your life to be arranged in such a way that you have peace.
  • Creating inner peace from the higher levels is learning to open your heart. It means that you are not focused or attached on an emotional level to things that happen in the world you see around you. You know who you are, and you let things flow around you without touching or affecting your sense of peace.
  • Inner peace is a connection to the heart and a willingness to let go of fear. It is achieved by letting go of having to defend.
  • Having inner peace means committing to letting go of self-criticism and self-doubt.
  • Manifesting inner peace means acting rather than reacting. It is a stance, an attitude; it is an energy you send flowing outward into the world.
  • Right now, make the decision that you can bring inner peace into your life. Make the decision that you’re going to open your heart even more, be more compassionate, more understanding, more loving, and more forgiving of everyone you know. Form a picture in your mind of yourself going through the next week, and see yourself coming from a totally new level of peace. See the smile on your face and the joy in your heart.

Achieving Balance, Stability and Security

  • If you wish to feel stable and balanced, stop often throughout the day and focus on what you are doing. Change your perspective. Sit quietly and experience yourself and your thoughts from a calmer level of awareness. The involves bringing your emotions into a state of peace and quiet.
  • When there is no motion in your body other than your thoughts, you can think in a different way.
  • It is not eliminating options that brings balance. It is doing things in moderation, stopping when the energy is gone and riding the waves as they come it. It means pacing yourself in a steady, even way.
  • Do those things that bring aliveness to you.
  • To feel secure you need to feel you are growing, expanding, and enlarging the scope of your world.
  • You might think you will feel more secure by keeping things unchanged, maintaining the status quo. Yet, security only comes from taking a risk, opening up, and discovering more of who you are.

Clarity: Living More in Light

  • Your life purpose is the most important thing you can get clear on. Clarity of purpose will direct clear energy into every other area of your life. It is that deepest desire within you, that which gives you the most joy, that which you think of, fantasize about all the time. It is that deep soul-level urge, that motivation; it is the dream that hold within you.
  • When you are clear on your purpose, your intent, your motivation, your agreements, when you are clear on your communications, action flows. Many of you want to start with clarity of action, and yet it is clarity of purpose that is the starting point.
  • If  you want to know more about your life purpose, or about any personal situation, then ask. You will need to create the intention and a time to hear. Take the time to sit quietly. It may not happen the first time you try. But if you continue to create the space for the ideas to come through, that is all that is required.

Freedom is Your Birthright

  • Freedom is an inner feeling. It is the ability to choose what you want. It is the knowledge that you are the captain of the ship. Freedom is knowing that you own your own life, that you are the one in charge. Freedom is essential for joy, for anywhere you feel trapped or that your rights have been taken away, you cannot experience joy.
  • You learn by trial and error. Do not make yourself or others wrong for the choices they make.
  • The only limits to freedom are those you place upon yourself.
  • To create more freedom in your life, do not look in the areas in which you do not have freedom; look instead at the areas where you have created freedom.
  • You can create a sense of freedom from moment to moment by realizing you are free to respond, act and feel any way to choose. You are free to speak and take action within the framework of your job. There is always a level of freedom in everything you do. Look at where you are free. Focus on that freedom, and it will increase in your life.
  • You can choose to remain centered and balanced even when others around you are not. This is the ultimate freedom, the freedom to choose how you will respond and be, the freedom to act in a way that elevates your energy.
  • Ironically, the more freedom you give people the more they will want to be with you.
  • I can guarantee that anytime you give freedom to others, they will turn to you with even greater love and respect. It takes a centered, balanced and secure person to give others that freedom.
  • If you can choose to react with joy and pleasure, if you can choose to react by seeing the positive, making yourself right rather than wrong, then you have gained the ultimate freedom, the freedom to be and act in a way that reflects your deeper truth.

Embracing the New

  • Embracing the new means being open to having more in your life. Many of you think that what you have created up until now is the best you can do. You make something and think that the first try is your best. But on the second and third tries you do even better. As you create things in your life, you become better and more skilled. That is the process of life.
  • Opening to new things means trusting and having faith in yourself and others. It means believing that the future holds joy and promise. It means believing in your growth and direction.
  • If you want something new, be open to having it come from anywhere, any place, any person.
  • Every single thing that happens to you happens to assist you in bringing yourself to a higher level of evolution. Even those things you call negative or bad are there to show you new ways of responding so that you may be more powerful in the future.
  • Let go of the fear that the future may mean having less than you have now or may take something away from you. Open up to the idea that you will be wiser, stronger and more powerful tomorrow and that whatever you create will be even better than what you already have.
  • Life always seeks growth, expansion and evolution. In experiencing the new you can see more of who you are.
  • Every morning when you wake up you are literally being born anew and afresh. Every day there are new things on your mind, people to meet, things to do. As you wake up and start your day, you need not think of the past and remember mistakes; instead focus upon the future and what you will create.
  • So as you embrace the new, remember, things are always going to get better; nothing is taken away unless something better is coming. Every down cycle is followed by a great leap forward.
  • Create something that is delightful tomorrow – one small step, or one small point of action that will bring you one step closer to your goal. The mind likes to have markers and feel a sense of accomplishment. What would be delightful for you to create tomorrow that would bring you one step closer to your higher goal?

Living in Higher Purpose

  • With higher purpose, you can choose every moment, knowing what to do with the hour, the day, and the week. It allows you to grow and evolve rapidly in this lifetime.
  • The new home, the finished book is not the goal of growth. But the process by which you create these things and the growth it gives you – the new skills you acquire, the insights, the opening of your heart when you love, the new appreciation for beauty your garden gives you when the flowers come up, the feelings that you have when you finish a project, the focus and concentration when you work – this is higher purpose, this is evolution.
  • Spiritual growth means increasing your awareness of beauty, opening your heart, and experiencing more love and compassion.
  • When a form has been created, but the reason for the form is gone, then it is time to let go. You have seen this in relationships, how many hang on to the shell of it when the life energy is out of the connection.
  • Life need not be hard.
  • In the next month, become more aware of your purpose. It is always playful and joyful. Higher purpose leads to the finer energies of life, such as a deep connection with a loved one, the joyful union of friends as they play, focus and lightness as you carry out your life work. Joy can exist in every moment if you are willing to live in purpose.
  • You will send out a call to the universe telling it you are willing to grow. You will then be given many opportunities to expand and evolve, and none of your challenges will ever be beyond that which you have the skills and tools to handle.
  • Because you are growing so rapidly, you must create new challenges to experience who you are.
  • If you want to serve the world and get your work out, if you want to create prosperity, to open new creativity and skills, there is always a part of you that knows how. Talk to that part, ask it to show you what steps to take. Watch your inner dialogue, and listen for messages from this part.
  • You are often tested by the universe to see how much you believe in your vision. Every goal is reachable if you keep working on it.

Recognizing Life Purpose – What are you here to do?

  • When you are creating your life purpose you will have enough time, for you will create the time. You will find it so joyful that everything else falls away, and your determination, focus and your concentration is there.
  • As you look at your life purpose, ask, what would you do if you were alone? If you did not have anyone in your life who would gain from what you did, or lose from it either, would it change your choices? What would you do for yourself? What would bring you peace and joy? What if society did not exist or had absolutely different values – would you still love what you are doing?
  • Honor yourself as a unique individual. When you are with other people, don’t compare your path to theirs. Instead, go inward and look at what your highest path is, and compare your life to that.
  • “How can I be true to who I am? What is my truth?”
  • The more consistently you believe in yourself, the better the results. It would be easy if there were no setbacks (as you interpret them), or trials along the way. Honor every single setback, every single challenge or difficulty, for it strengthens your purpose. It give you opportunities to be even more committed to your vision, even clearer on your intent. If life were too easy or simple, most of you would be complaining of boredom. Honor your challenges, for those spaces that you label as dark are actually there to bring you more light, to strengthen you, to firm your resolve, and to bring out the best in you.