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Margaret Paul, Ph.D. Headshot

Joy! Causeless Joy!

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Do you ever have the experience of joy welling up in your heart and soul for no reason at all?

I love when this happens. It happened today.

I was driving back home in a light snow after visiting my daughter and my two young grandsons. I felt so grateful that I live close enough to see them often and grateful about how happy and wonderful they are. As I was smiling to myself about the cuteness of my grandsons, I went through a wonderful little tree-lined town that I love, but today I especially loved it because all the bare tree branches were sparkling with diamonds of snow. It was like a fairyland!

I was so moved that I started to cry, thanking God for the incredible beauty. I cried for just a few minutes and soon I was home.

Then, from nowhere, huge joy came welling up, filling my heart and soul. I could feel a happy smile spread on my face and again I thanked God for this grace.

While this joy was causeless -- that is, it wasn't at that moment attached to anything external -- there was a reason for it. The reason was that when I felt so much gratitude for my family and for living close to them now (we moved here only six months ago), and I allowed myself to be fully moved by the beauty of the trees, and cried, my heart opened completely. When my heart is completely open, spirit fills me with joy.

Joy is a gift of spirit, as is truth, peace, compassion and love. In fact, this is what Spirit IS. French philosopher and Jesuit priest Teilhard de Chardin said, "Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God."

Later in the day we had a visitor who wanted to see our new house and meet our horses. As soon as we entered the barn to feed our animals, my horse Stryder nickered loudly to me. I went to his stall to give him a carrot and I kissed his nose. He gave me a sloppy lick back and again I felt the joy fill me. Stryder can open my heart in an instant! He is so cute and funny and loves to give slurpy kisses! There is something amazing about the ability of a horse to open hearts. All horse-lovers know this.

Our friend offered Stryder a carrot and he gently took it from her hand. "I haven't been around horses since I was a child," she said, and I could feel that Stryder was already working his magic on her. Again, I felt the welling up of joy.

Then we walked over to sweet, blue-eyed Dude, who looked at us with his puppy eyes, asking for a carrot. Our friend was awed by his size, but when she was invited into the stall to help put on his cold-weather coat, she walked right in, unafraid. She was already in love with him.

Then she came back and helped me with Stryder's coat. "Have you ever smelled a horse's hair?" I asked. "No." "Put your nose right up against his flank and smell him." She did so and looked at me in awe. A look of peace came over her face. "There is something about the smell of a horse that brings about a feeling of immediate peace in the body," I told her. "I don't know what it is, but it happens every time I smell him."

Today was a great day, because I fully allowed love and beauty to open my heart to causeless joy. That joy continues as I share that now with you.

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships." The next course starts February 12th.

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