Sadness isn’t itself a virtue. You know your heart best when it breaks, and you can come to see, that though you feel grief, your heart isn’t actually “broken”.
Life’s pleasures are derived not from the things that happen to us. In fact, they are created by how we respond to life’s ups and downs. Two people in the same situation can respond entirely differently due to their perceptions. Although we cannot always control what happens in our lives, we can learn to shift our perceptions of the events which occur, thereby transforming our experience of those events.
Contrary to popular belief, humans were not made to struggle. Otherwise, why do we possess loving hearts and the yearning for beauty and connection? Surely we were not meant to spend our days mired in suffering. Unfortunately, the dominant cultural belief system is directed towards struggle, making it a challenge to experience the positive.
Like all change, consistent effort is required in order for one to shift to a place of joy. While the idea of hard work to attain joy may seem counterintuitive, it is the creation of a new habit, which takes diligence, especially considering our deeply-ingrained belief system.
Every time you notice yourself thinking about how difficult life is for you, make a conscious shift in focus to the positive. Choosing to abide in joyful awareness is the key. This is not a denial of reality; rather, it is the conscious choice to see life through a different lens. Instead of perpetuating the suffering, you are simply choosing to infuse your life with joy.
There are many ways to choose joy, and not all choices will work for everyone. Here are some simple ways to bring joy into your life.
- Practice gratitude and appreciation. For everything, all of the time.
- Open yourself to the state of flow. The great athletes and artists of the world create in the state of flow, or being present in the moment. The idea is to be as rooted in the current moment as possible, without regret or worry about those things which have already passed or those which have yet to be.
- Make the conscious choice to learn. Whatever experience you may be having, it contains a valuable lesson. Strive to extract the lesson from every experience.
- Get outside. Restore your connection with the Earth by climbing trees, walking on the waterfront, camping, hiking, swimming and exploring. Observe and learn from the ways that plants and animals interact with each other.
- Remember to play. Nothing is as important as your mental health. Spending all of your time working reduces your effectiveness and brings down your mood. Play invigorates creativity and inspires our higher intelligence.
- Be present in your body. Learning to dance with life can sometimes be literal. Moving and fully inhabiting your body via physical and spiritual practices like Yoga, ecstatic dance, or Tai Chi will allow you to open channels of energy, allowing for greater access to your innate joy.
- Follow your bliss. Identify what it is that brings you the most joy, and set about doing it. If it is not possible to immerse yourself in your passion due to other obligations, you can still devote some time every day to something you truly love to do.
There is no greater evidence that we possess a joyful essence than to watch children at play. We were designed to evolve through pleasurable activities. This cultured addiction to struggle is at the root of many of the diseases we deal with today. But somewhere inside us is the memory of how to dance with life. Some part of you remembers how to flow, to trust and to harmonize with life’s essence.
This post is contributed by Ron McDiarmid, who is the founder of My Healthy Living Coach. Having had health challenges along the way Ron was keen to share the research and learning he gathered. Through MHLC this continued into a current presentation of healthy lifestyle choices and how to implement them. Check out his website at www.myhealthylivingcoach.com.