Roadmap for Joy

I’ve noticed my levels of joy and sense of well-being have gone up steadily over the last 3-4 years.  I spent a few moments reflecting on what changed for me that enabled this almost overwhelming sense of positive emotion each day.  I’m not sure I can identify all the parts, but here’s my best effort:

  • Letting go – Giving up that control freak side of me was huge.  In other words, really accepting what I cannot control and not letting it bother me has done wonders for my peace of mind.
  • Perspective – Part of that letting go is knowing that even the current situation is not the end of the world.  Things can always improve and they could always be much worse. I can increase the odds of improvement happening by making it happen!
  • Being present – I know many of you hate meditation, but not being stuck in the future or the past constantly has allowed me to have my mind blissfully blank – but aware – for periods of time.  It’s a welcome time-out for my brain and allows me to take in the beauty of the moment instead of being stuck ruminating in my head.  Note: meditation is not the only way to accomplish this!
  • Becoming more open – Being open means not subscribing to my fear or limiting self-concepts.  I can try new things, be open to talking to strangers, be more curious about things that might otherwise go unnoticed.  I feel so much more calm and interested now that I’ve given up my assumptions about myself and the world.  This also has led me to my spiritual journey – a whole new world in and of itself.
  • Getting to know myself – All of the above has enabled me to explore my inner and outer world with fresh eyes.  How refreshing to re-examine my self-talk and negative scripts and decide that I don’t need them or want them anymore!   How do others see me?  How does my self-view help or hinder me?  How can I make my self-talk more positive and encouraging instead of being my own worst enemy?  What surprising new things will I learn about myself now?
  • Deciding to love myself – This is the next logical step after getting to know myself anew.  I did decide to give myself the love and nurturing I need instead of expecting others to provide it to me.  This decision and the resulting confidence was incredibly liberating and fulfilling, which then circled back to improve all of the above.
  • Loving the whole – By deciding to love myself I am also deciding to love ALL of humanity and mother nature, not just parts of it.  I can’t fully love the world if I don’t love the part that I contribute to it.  We’re all part and parcel, you see.

I had to do an exercise recently where I was supposed to write about some ideal future version of myself.  It was a difficult exercise because I’m having trouble envisioning how life can be even better than it already is.  In a way, I’m glad I can’t envision it because then life will continue to surprise me.  Also, having too narrow of a vision tends to be limiting; as good as my imagination is, reality can be so much better.

However, I also know that envisioning a great future is sometimes the first step to realizing it.   Though my self-vision is somewhat limited I am much more able to envision a more positive, healthy and happy world, where all the world’s community of people, animals, plants and ecosystems are flourishing.  What if we each cultivated our individual well-being, but in doing so bring others along with us?  As we grow and flourish, we commit to helping others do the same.  When a community or family is impoverished, it is difficult for the individual to thrive.  “A rising tide lifts all boats.”  We can create the tide.  Join me.

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