“Is there anything I can do to help?” I asked, as I entered the crowded kitchen at Ananda’s Meditation Retreat. The staff was moving in high gear, busily preparing an elaborate Indian banquet for several hundred guests and residents to be served later that day.

two-bowls-of-lemons-nayaswami-devi-novak-touch-of-lightWith a grateful smile, the head cook pointed to a twenty-five-pound box of lemons, and said, “All those need to be juiced. Put them in a big bowl, and find a hand juicer [there was no electricity at the Retreat then]. You can go out on the deck and work there.”

It was a beautiful summer’s day, so I settled myself on the deck at a large table under a tree, and began the task at hand. I was happy to help in whatever way I could to prepare for the feast.

After a while, one of the guests saw that I was obviously enjoying myself, and asked, “Can I juice some lemons, too?”

“Sure,” I replied. “Go to the kitchen, and get another big bowl and a hand juicer. We can work together.”

He quickly returned, we divided the lemons into two bowls, and we began juicing away in the beautiful sunshine. After about five minutes, perhaps wondering why I seemed to be enjoying myself, my new friend said, “I think your lemons are better than mine.” I willingly switched bowls so that he could work from mine, although I knew they were all from the same box.

Another five minutes passed, and he said, “I think your juicer is better than mine.” Again I willingly switched, although I could see that there wasn’t much difference between the two.

Another five minutes ticked away. Not finding this task very rewarding, the guest suddenly remembered, “Oh, I have something else I need to do now.” I inwardly chuckled to myself as he departed, seeing that he hadn’t found the secret of how to make it enjoyable.

Was there anything inherently fun in juicing the big bowl of lemons? Not really. As Paramhansa Yogananda said, “All conditions are neutral. It’s what we think of them that makes them seem good or bad.”

But I was enjoying myself because I brought enthusiasm, willingness, and joy to the task at hand. Whatever the day holds for you, try to approach it with an eager, positive attitude, and you’ll find that life becomes filled with endless opportunities for joy.

In his book, Affirmations for Self-Healing, Swami Kriyananda wrote: “Enthusiasm is the spirit of joy channeled through the power of the will. To achieve happiness, one must work with happiness. To achieve divine joy, one must be keenly enthusiastic in everything one does!”

May you bring enthusiasm to even the simplest task that lies before you today, and may you learn how to turn all your lemons into lemonade.

With joy in God,
Nayaswami Devi


  1. It is nice to see this story in writing as it is a great one to remember and share. Thank you Devi!

    1. Thanks deviji.i apply this principle in everything I do including cutting vegetables for cooking needless to say that I enjoy everything I do.pranams.

  2. Dear Ji
    Wonderful insights to feel Happy at all the time and in given situations.
    Thanks for sharing

  3. Dearest Devi and Jyotish, I just loves these weekly messages! Each one rings true and fills us with insight and joy.
    So happy to see them in my mailbox every Friday. Thank you! In JOY, j

  4. Thank you so much, Devi. This is such an important reminder. May I think of it often today. This column of yours and Jyotish’s is so very important. It keeps us all connected in heart and practicality and lifted beyond the grumbling mind. Much love to you both, janakidevi

  5. Sri Devi,
    Wonderful and delightful story! Thank you for sharing. As I sit in my little abode up here at the Retreat, I can so appreciate the scene you describe and the Joy you experienced in the 2 bowls of lemons.
    What I so appreciate is your attitude with trying to do what you could to help the other person experience what you were enjoying. Willing to give the juicer you were using and switching the lemons. I just love this. A great example of trying to share the experience and not being responsible for the other persons experience. That was his to own. Today will be a wonderful day!

  6. Thank you, I needed this reminder of a simple but powerful insight.

  7. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji ,
    Thank you for the Article :)
    Wonderful, what a simple way you had put across such a deep message.
    “All conditions are neutral. It’s what we think of them that makes them seem good or bad.”
    Thank you for Devi Ji , we may apply this in our day to day life

  8. Thank you , enjoyed this story of lemons and the teaching behind it.

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