We are living in chaotic times. Unemployment rates are increasing along with feelings of loneliness and isolation; people live far from family and friends and so, seek care from professionals; neighbourhoods have tall fences, automatic garage doors, and focus social activities in their backyards — making it hard to know your neighbours; and there is great economic, social, and environmental uncertainty that causes many to live in fear of what the future may hold.
What is our response when we are faced with these realities?
Paul Born has just released his new book, Deepening Community: Finding Joy Together in Chaotic Times. In this book, Paul shares his own growing-up experiences as refugee fleeing war, famine and oppression. He grew up with a group of people who were bonded by fear and trauma, but worked together to heal, to tell their story, to take care of each other and to work to make the world a better place.
“Finding joy together in chaotic times.” How exactly do we do this? Do we find joy by just pretending that the chaos we experience does not exist? Our lives are already over-capacity … how can we possibly add one more thing to focus on/to work towards?
First, let’s explore the idea of joy … what does it mean? Here is the quotation that inspired this book:
Our most natural state is joy. It is the foundation for love, compassion, healing, and the desire to alleviate suffering.
— Deepak Chopra, Pioneer in the Field of Mind-Body Medicine
Joy is not a fleeting emotion — it is a permanent state of being. It can ground us, root us, and bind us to a group of people. Happiness comes and goes, but joy can be constant if we work to bring this attitude, this disposition, into our lives. It is from a foundation of joy that healing, compassion and possibility can flow.
We can find joy with others: with our friends, our colleagues, our families, our neighbours and even strangers that we meet at the grocery store, on the bus, and online. To be surrounded by people who know and love you generates a deep sense of belonging and thus, joy!
In his book, Paul suggests four actions for deepening our sense of community and connection to others:
- Sharing our stories
- Taking the time to enjoy one another
- Taking care of one another
- Working together for a better world
These actions build on each other: by sharing stories with each other, we come to know and enjoy the time we spend with each other; when we know each other, we are moved to care for and support each other; and when we are in the habit of caring for each other, we begin to look outside of ourselves and even our immediate community and explore what we can do to make the world a better place (collective altruism develops).
This is a recipe for joy: facing the chaos head-on, with authenticity, but not doing it alone. Surrounding yourself with people who love you — who will bring you a bowl of soup when you have a cold, or will pick you up from the airport, or laugh with you as you share a story from your day, because they know you would do the same for them. This is how we find joy. This is how we come to feel like we belong.
We know this journey is not easy — but we do know that together, we are better. We hope you will read this book to find more tools, stories and ideas on how to deepen your sense of community. We hope you will join us in trying to find deep community and deep joy, together.
Re-posted by permission of Tamarack, An Institute for Community Engagement. See more at: http://seekingcommunity.ca/blogs/rachel-elizabeth/how-exactly-do-we-find-joy-together-chaotic-times#sthash.FU9Zgxe2.dpuf.
For more on the book visit http://www.deepeningcommunity.org/
- Deepening Community (Block)