March 4, 2022

A Buddhist Philosophy to Overcome Guilt for feeling Joy during Hard Times.


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Do I need to justify my joy to myself when things are sh*t in the United States and internationally?

I pondered the above question after experiencing so much joy and aliveness after seeing the brilliant musical, “Moulin Rouge” on Broadway.

The songs, the dancing, the joy, and sharing this experience with people in person. My whole body took it all in. All that joy and aliveness. Being shut in, on and off, for two years, I knew my whole being needed this. This was good medicine I gave to myself.

I must admit, it took a while for me to get used to being around so many people and I was somewhat scared, but I just acknowledged those feelings and it soon passed.

My friend who was with me sings and it was so sweet hearing her sing along to some of the music. The show was called a “jukebox musical,” mainly because the songs they used were all by professionals like Lady Gaga, Adele, and Christina Aguilera—songs you would choose on a jukebox if you were around one. (If you even know what a jukebox is.)

At the finale, many of us who were sitting together got up and danced along with the cast, and through this incredible joy, I wanted to cry. My body and I were so happy.

I got home around 11:15 p.m. I’ve gotten into a good habit of shutting off my phone at night, mainly because each time I have to get up during the night to pee, I look at my phone, and by turning it off, I no longer do that.

But in my excitement, I forgot.

And around 5 a.m., I got up, saw my phone was on, and there was the news headline, “One Million Ukrainians Have Fled Their Country.”

I just sat on my bed and felt so sad—as if I had been kicked in the stomach. And then, I thought, “Here, I shared so much joy seeing Moulin Rouge and maybe I shouldn’t have.”

Guilt began to move in. And then, I said to myself, “Sherri, this news headline is exactly why you made it a point to experience joy! You know from one moment to the next how vulnerable we all are. You don’t know what bad news will happen next. You must create this resilience within you by experiencing your joy. It’s the balance that brings you through these hard times.”

I’m a Buddhist, and in Buddhism, the philosophy is living moment to moment, which, in most cases, is hard to do. Most of us aren’t raised that way and many seek distractions from uncomfortable feelings. But these last five years, that all changed for me—because we had an evil menace as our president, voting and abortion rights were taken away from us, people praised evil, Russia invaded the peaceful, democratic country, Ukraine, and there were many, many deaths.)

More and more, I’m learning to live in the present because all the above has forced me to.

I truly don’t know from one moment to the next what will happen, so it’s imperative for me to live in the moment, and no matter what’s happening, not to lose my joy.


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