Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ve tasked myself with exploring the concepts of pronoia (the belief that the universe is conspiring to shower us with blessings), quiety (serenity) and peace – all through the lens of unusual, obscure, or simply delightful-to-me words.
R is for…
Riant – Derived from the French word for laughter, if you’re riant then you’re constantly smiling or always seem to be in a bright, cheerful mood.
Riancy is such a delightful state. In my mind it’s worthy to celebrate it whenever we come across it; but even more important I think we should dedicate ourselves to achieving it as often as possible. In truth laughter re-sets our energy, and there’s always room for that isn’t there?
I’m encouraged and inspired by Rumi’s invitation:
“Let us drink the holy wine of happiness.”
Just as we have choices about how we’ll respond to everything, I believe we can do a lot to cultivate riancy. This can be a tricky topic to talk about though, because if you’re not feeling riant it can be easy to dismiss any attempts to achieve it as Pollyanna-ish.
One of the things I often say is I like to keep my feet on the joy trail. But I think it’s important to be clear – my life is not any more magical than anyone else’s. I have my share of challenges, my share of hard, my share of sadness. I’ve known the darkness of depression deeply and intimately. I’m ordinary.
But I also know that life is easier and more enjoyable when we can laugh, and especially when we can hold ourselves in enough love to be able to laugh at ourselves. That’s the best! Life is many things, but it most definitely at times is absurd. What better time to laugh.? Life is filled with treasures and blessings and moments of great great joy. We can meet those moments consciously with riancy, and in doing so invite more of the same in.
There’s a charming and insightful little book by J. Ruth Gendler entitled The Book of Qualities. It’s a whimsical characterization of various emotional qualities ranging from courage to complacency, jealousy to anxiety – about 75 different ones. She presents the qualities as characters, offering a brief less-than-a-page description. One of the things she says about joy that I find particularly valuable is:
“Although Joy is spontaneous, she is immensely patient. She does not need to rush. She knows that there are obstacles on every path and that every moment is the perfect moment. She is not concerned with success or failure or how to make things permanent.”
If you can feel into that, I think you can get a sense of riancy. It’s sort of holding loosely, being truly present in the moment, and staying open to all appearances of delight that you can whole-heartedly welcome. Isn’t that delicious?
Speaking of books, there’s another one I want to share – a truly delightful children’s book that makes me smile and laugh every time I read it. I’m totally in love with Larry and Friends, written by Nat Jasper and illustrated by Carla Torres. It’s about Larry the American dog, and all his multi-national, multi-cultural friends who come by to celebrate his birthday. Each character has a little back story, like Rosita the Mexican Coyote, who “survive(d) the tough trip from Mexico guided by some chicken people that dared called themselves coyotes. She’s now the best luchadora in New York.” There’s Laila the Iranian Cat, and Sumita the Indian Elephant who was left behind by a traveling circus, but didn’t cry because she knew “life sometimes takes mysterious roads to land you in the right place at the right moment;” and so many other wonderful friends. This is such a delightful book about immigration, diversity, friendship and acceptance.
And what makes me smile even more – this was a Kickstarter project! It delights me beyond measure that good stuff happens with community support, and that we all get to make meaningful contributions to creating the world we want to see.
There’s a website devoted to the book and I encourage you to check it out here.
What’s making you laugh today? How are you cultivating good cheer? Want to recommend any books that leave you riant? Do tell – you know I love to hear.