A few hundred yards from where I live are buildings meant for the poorer section, put up, to take them out of the slums. One would think, that in their little crowded tenements, tempers would be high, and anger a way of life, but the happiest sounds of fun and laughter come from there.

Thomas Aquinas once said, “No one can live without joy.” But many people try. And the reason is often simply because they don’t know how to be happy! They are so intent on the three Ps – Power, prosperity and prestige – that they miss out on joy.

Try to imagine this picture. It is a photograph taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson, who pioneered modern photography as an art form during the early decades of the 20th Century. He became known for his photographs of apparent contradictions: pictures that left mysteries unexplained.

One of his famous photographs was hot in a poor section of Spain in the 1930s. Te picture depicts a run-down alley surrounded by decaying walls, strewn with rubble randomly stacked in thick piles ling on the street, and riddled with bullet holes dotting gray walls. The setting alone evokes feelings of sadness and despair.

But then the contradiction:

Within the grim alley children are playing. They wear dirty and tattered clothes, as one might expect in such a setting, but like playing children everywhere, they laugh with carefree joy.

In the foreground, a tiny boy on crutches hobbles away from two other boys, his face lit up with a broad grin. One boy is laughing so hard he has to old his side. Others lean on the cracked walls, beaming with delight.

It is easy to spot the contrast – and the point. Joy amidst the rubble of life.

Laughter amongst ruins.

We cannot avoid pain however hard we try. But we can avoid joy. We cannot escape hardship and trouble, but we can miss out on much of life’s peace and laughter. 

If you feel as if you could use more joy, try this: Spend time daily doing something you enjoy.

Do those things that bring inner peace.

Learn to laugh heartily and frequently.

Cultivate within yourself an attitude of hope.

Fill each day with as much love as it can possibly hold.

You’ll still have plenty of problems, but through it all, you’ll find all the joy you will ever need.

I would go one step farther: Link yourself to a God above, and whatever the circumstances are, you will find joy, just joy!

They’re playing cricket now, with masks on, in a dirty field below, but they don’t see the dirt, all they feel is joy, just joy..!

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