What if you could practice joy like you practice the piano or the guitar or the perfect jump shot?

Practice so you maybe have a better shot at maybe some real joy that really lasts?

Joy that pulls up the chair for a good long visit, instead of just the afternoon. Maybe even a lifetime visit?

Can practice make perfect joy like it makes the perfect sonata?

And more importantly, I guess, how do you actually practice joy?


The word comes from the Latin – “com” meaning “with”; and “pati” meaning “suffering”.

To suffer with.

Webster’s says it’s a “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it”.

Might the doing of that last little bit be the part we ought to practice a bit more of?

Mother Teresa is said to have said that love pretty much leads to action.

“If we love, we will serve.” (~Mother Teresa)

And yeah, we’ve all heard it – it’s better to give than to receive, and maybe we even believe it.

Compassion, because we love. Serving, because we love. Doing, because we love.

Doing something. And then, doing another something.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” ~Dalai Lama


At it’s most fundamental, practicing something (scales or math or compassion) is about repeating an action over and over, until the doing of that something becomes effortless. Or at least more effortless.

And so we repeat the scales, over and over and over again. And we find that we do, in fact, get better at them. Our fingers know the patterns, learn them deep in muscle memory and the playing of a scale becomes more effortless the more we repeat the playing of it.

We can repeat compassion, too. Having compassion and being moved to act by our desire to alleviate others’ distress. Do something, and then do another something. Over and over again. And we find that we do get better, but this practice leads not to a well-played concerto but to a well lived life – a happy life.

Maybe even joy?

Maybe practicing compassion

makes joy



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