Joy has many special and overlooked qualities and, as a practice, becomes a different kind of bold.
Boldness and aggression have been joined at the hip for a long time. How often, when we are prodded to be bolder, is it about “getting out there” or “pushing the envelope?” How often are we asked whether or not something is worth pushing the envelope? Does every envelope require pushing? Has pushing the envelope become a knee-jerk way of being aggressive but not necessarily mindful?
Anything can become habitual, and that includes aggression. Have you every been with someone who habitually sees threat or is habitually caustic or contemptuous? It can be seen as smart and bold, but is it?
What Could Bold Look Like?
Anything and everything has and requires context. Without context, very little that we do can helpful. What does that mean with boldness?
Perhaps boldness to be of value, and it can be extremely valuable, requires a more nuanced understanding of what is needed in any given situation. Bold can be:
- forgiving yourself for trying to be a friend to someone who did not reciprocate.
- taking care of yourself despite being told it is selfish.
- putting limits on how much work you will do.
- not buying more stuff that you and others do not need, even if that makes you different.
- being yourself even if others do not approve.
- making quality more important than quantity in work and life.
- making your humanitarian values more important than social competition.
- living on a human scale so other beings including animals and nature have their place and it is respected.
Real boldness requires a connection with the present and with reality. Otherwise, it is just acting out.
Can Boldness Increase Connection?
Suppose we chill with social and status competition and try connection, safety, and trust as more valuable goal?
Does the world we live in have to be as hostile and unsafe as it is? Are we so addicted to aggression that we create the dangerous scenarios that we then bemoan?
It would be a great act of boldness to put down the weapons of contempt and antagonism and say, “Enough is enough.” We know we can drive each other crazy, but it does not have to become our favorite sport. We can make life a little easier for each other by listening more and helping each other feel a little more welcome and accepted in a world that is so challenged.
Spite should not be our default attitude. We can make joy central to our lives and the lives of others with this simple shift. Give it a try.