How to Live in the Tension of Joy and Pain

You feel this reality, right? A mentor told me this years ago and it’s resounding in my soul these days.

Global tragedies and personal struggles are mixed up with raucous celebration and profound gratitude. Life and death are intertwined. The holidays seem to put a spotlight on the extremes.

This is personal for me. There is whole-hearted JOY in my son’s first drama production, the intimacy of my marriage, reconciliation in a friendship, and my dear friend’s recent success. There’s equal PAIN because of how my body has been thrown into chaos these last 6 months and the subsequent struggles building a business.

These are only ways I know how to live in this tension:

  • Focus on the good. Where your thoughts go, your energy flows. Training your brain to pay attention to the good increases your energy to withstand the pain.
  • Don’t silver line the tough stuff. Toxic positivity isn’t only minimizing of your pain, but it also suppresses your emotion. Resisting reality only hinders your capacity to shift your perspective, posture, and presence.
  • Proactively process the hard. Whether with a safe friend or a trusted guide, it’s necessary to talk through what’s happening in us to create meaning and movement forward.

In a month that focuses on thanksgiving, we’ll use this month to help us learn more deeply how to be grateful at all times — past, present, and future so we can more fully embody the whole human experience.

If you’re in a particularly difficult season like I am, I hope this series will transform your pain and train your whole self toward life.

We owe that to ourselves and one another as we gather this holiday season.