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Rainn Wilson on How to Find Joy

Rainn Wilson on How to Find Joy

Actor and author Rainn Wilson has been a source of joy for many people.

As Dwight K. Schrute on NBC’s The Office, Wilson brought some hilariously great moments, alongside quite a few cringe ones as well. But in the years since his iconic role, Wilson has continued to help others find joy through more practical means than rewatching your favorite episode for the 100th time.

In his new book SoulBoom: How to Start a Spiritual Revolution, Wilson explores the key ways that re-connecting with our spirituality can lead us to a fuller life. Whether it be mentally, emotionally, politically, economically — you name it. Wilson believes that cultivating our spiritual lives is the key to solving, well, just about everything.

In an exclusive interview for The RELEVANT Podcast, Wilson shares why it’s important to connect with spirituality, and how you can find hope and joy in your daily life.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

What are some practical steps someone could take to cultivate joy?

Wilson: One is to not give up hope, to remain joyful, to spread joy, to spread positivity and work for change. Because if we’re cynical and pessimistic, then nothing gets done. And the forces of chaos and confusion, of materialism and of hopelessness and despair, they win. If we stay pessimistic and cynical, they win.

It’s really easy to get pessimistic and cynical. Just read the newspaper. This sucks. We’ll never get out of this. Nothing will ever change. I find myself falling into that position a great deal. So, I say fostering joy and squashing cynicism is a great place to start. You could do that on a daily basis. You could make a decision. Not only am I going to attempt to feel joy and connect with joy, but I’m going to spread joy. I’m going to give joy to someone else as a service. Believe it or not, when you give joy to someone else, you actually feel you get like a 10 percent dividend on the joy that you give to someone else. It actually makes you feel more joyful.

And when that voice comes up — the one that says, nothing will ever change, this sucks, humans are just buttholes, it’ll never get any better we’ve got to squash that impulse and recognize it for what it is. And we have to realize that’s not going to lead to anything good to just to dwell in that. So feel it, recognize it for what it is. Oh, there’s that cynical pessimistic voice again. Then, let that go and focus on joy.

What advice would you have for someone who is feeling hopeless in today’s world?

Rainn Wilson: The first thing to acknowledge is that the “negative emotions” are there to help us. They’re there to guide us. We kind of live in a state right now, especially with young people where they feel like they shouldn’t be feeling these negative emotions. “I shouldn’t be feeling depression. I shouldn’t be feeling anxiety. I shouldn’t be feeling pessimism, I shouldn’t be feeling overwhelmed or disconnection or loneliness.” But those “negative emotions” can be very valuable teachers.

I think that for youth who are kind of overwhelmed and leaning into pessimism, it’s a really good time to be pessimistic. You know, the mental health epidemics are off the charts. Climate change is terrible. The political system is corrupt and divisive and hate-filled. Our culture is more and more just materialistic every day.

I saw these TikTok videos the other day of a guy going up to people with fancy cars, saying, “Hey, what an awesome car! Tell me about your car. And millions and millions of views of people wanting to look at three and $400,000 cars.

So it’s a good time to get depressed. I talk in the book about how there are two forces at work going on in the world right now: the forces of integration and the forces of disintegration. It’s really easy to get stuck looking at the forces of disintegration —  things are falling apart and they’re getting more disunified.

So what to do is shift your focus ever so slightly to where integration is happening. There’s plenty of content on social media, there’s websites, there’s grassroots organizations. There’s people working to make a better world, to help nature, to raise awareness, to connect. This is everywhere and it’s easier said than done, but focus on the integration and start to let the disintegration go.

© 2023 RELEVANT Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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