Always maintain a joyful mind is about not taking yourself too seriously and remembering that no matter what’s going on, you can have an optimistic approach to life.
The original lojong slogan is more or less the same: Always maintain only a joyful mind. On the surface, it seems callous and simplistic to suggest that you should always be joyful. There’s so much suffering in the world, and there’s nothing worse than being told to cheer up when you’re having a hard time.
But this slogan isn’t about pretending to be happy when you’re not, or forcing yourself to think or feel a certain way. It’s just a gentle prod to remind you not to lose your perspective. Don’t take yourself or the process of training your mind too seriously. You can afford to lighten up.
This doesn’t mean you don’t care about the suffering of others or the problems of the world, or even your own suffering – just that you can loosen your grip and smile. You can keep your sense of humour, even when things aren’t going well.
Because underneath it all, the truth is that Buddha mind is a joyful mind. And you are Buddha mind – that is your true nature.
So relax – you’re closer to home than you realise.
Apply this slogan to your writing practice by remembering not to beat yourself up when your writing isn’t going well. Writing can be hard work and sometimes you get precious little support or encouragement. It’s easy to get bogged down in negativity. But this slogan gives you a friendly nudge and says: lighten up!
You don’t have to write. Nobody is forcing you to do it! So if you’re not enjoying it, stop.
On the other hand, perhaps you’re not enjoying it because you’re taking either yourself or the writing too seriously. Rejection will happen, no matter how well you write. You’ll have bad days when the words don’t flow and everything you write makes you doubt your grasp of the language. But that’s okay.
Writing is a process. Tomorrow you can try again.
This slogan reminds you of the most important thing: that writing is meant to be fun. It’s play.
Exercise: Have some fun!
More in the book – available now: Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers