Self-Imposed Joy

Ever been so busy worrying about if your life is happening the way you’d like it that you forget to live your life they way you’d like to? I’ve done this countless times. It truly is a lesson in futility, because the more you worry that things may not be happening the way you’d like, they aren’t.

This past month has been one in trying to be in the moment for me. I have particularly been paying close attention to how I feel. I never realized how much time I spend trying to control my future. “Is it happening?” “Will everything be ok?” “What am I not doing?” “What am I doing wrong?” Aaaaaagh. These crazy thoughts may seem like I am focused on creating my perfect future, but really they are only distracting me from having an enjoyable life. Every moment I spend in anxiety, worry, trying, or doubting is a moment spent in pain – not joy.

I have begun to adopt a practice of every morning, not allowing myself to get out of bed until I can feel grateful for things in my life and excited about the day ahead. Sometimes I don’t get up for another half hour, but I always get there. Of course, it helps that I am on a relaxed schedule with it being summer. But the truth is, I want to feel grateful and excited about my day. I believe everyone does. So how do we get out of the routine of this self-imposed suffering and into the routine of self-imposed joy?

Let go of angst, worry, doomsday thoughts about the future and anger that the past has not met your expectations. This requires you to smile and perhaps even laugh a little. Lightening up is the key. Perhaps there is something beautiful awaiting you this day. Wonder what it is. Allow yourself silly school girl notions of love, harmony, and miracles. If you are one to scoff at those who dare to dream or feel something beautiful, then you are one to deny yourself the joy of possibility.

Take stock of all that is good in your life. Imagine if something weren’t there at all and see if you’d miss it. Your bed, your job, your mate – whatever it is, if it or they were not there anymore, and there was no replacement, would you be in mourning? If so, then you have something or someone good in your life, for better or worse. There is so much good. Everyone has sunshine, grass, flowers, trees, and nature to enjoy. The birds sing for us all. The butterflies flutter for anyone who notices. Let the good outweigh the bad. Let the abundance outweigh the lack. Why? Because it does! So you might as well experience the truth of that.

Stop telling a sob story. Stop talking about how people have done you wrong or how the government is corrupt or how you never catch a break. STOP. In every instance of retelling your sob story, you recreate it day by day. A change in your life story requires a change in the story you’re telling. Change “I hate my job.” to “This job is helping me move into something more fulfilling. I am lucky.” Change “That person is annoying (or mean or rude, etc.)” to “That person is having a string of bad days. I wish them happiness so that they can feel better about themselves and others. I feel good that I am able to be kind even when others around me are not.” Feel the truth of new story and your life story will change fast.
Stop beating yourself up or think the world is crumbling around you everytime something unwanted happens. Trust me, if your life is seemingly crumbling around you, it’s not. It is falling into place. You can’t have change without change. The old ways have to go, so let it fall apart knowing it is all coming together beautifully. Also be kind to yourself while it is happening. Let yourself get mad or scared, but then allow yourself also to laugh at the insanity and believe in a brighter future. Hope is not for the weak.

It is for those who dare to dream of something greater for themselves.

Instead of seeing yourself or others as wrong, send love. This is compassion. The guy who honks and gives you the finger isn’t really mad at you. He’s mad at his life. Send him love so he can feel at peace. Laugh that he thinks giving you the finger can make him feel better and laugh and the truth that laughing at this makes you feel better. No matter what the perceived injustice, send love. Remember, you can send love to yourself too. Send love to yourself when you think you’ve said or done something stupid. Send love to yourself when you allow yourself to feel upset at someone else’s actions. Send love to yourself just because you can. Imagine receiving flowers or accolades every day at work. That’s what it feels like when you receive the love you send yourself.

I could go on and on, but the major theme with all of this is to dare to feel love and joy instead of judgment. Feel joy for your day instead of judging it before it happens. Feel love for your neighbor instead of judging them for their annoying behaviour. Feel love for yourself instead of tearing yourself apart because you should have known better. What good does all the judging, hating, and ridicule do for you? Nothing, other than satisfy the ego’s need to be right about how things should be. But if you don’t feel good, it’s not right. Feel love. It always will feel right and good. Trust me.

I am not perfect and I in no way am in a loving state every moment of my day, nor should you think you must be. But every moment I add in love is a moment not spent feeling something undesirable. Every moment I allow to be in light heartedness and kindness is a moment I feel the light heartedness and kindness.

Here’s the kicker: Feeling good comes from within. No one can give it to you. You may think others can by acting just the way you want them to, but let’s face it, that’s never going to happen, nor should it. If it did, then how would you have to act to make sure everyone around you feels good? Feeling good is not about controlling others actions around you. It is about controlling your reactions to others around you, realizing you do have a choice in how you feel about something.

My wish is for us to truly understand this otherwise we continue to remain victim to the lie we have all lived: that others define who we are, our value, and our worth. But they don’t. They never have. We do. It’s an inside job, as much as we may hate to admit that our suffering is self-imposed. It is. Our joy is self-imposed too. Which are you going to inflict upon yourself?

I have defined myself in a fairly harsh way most of my life. I am changing that now through the kindness and love I wrote about earlier. I admit it takes practice, but it does deliver immediate results. Give yourself a break, cut yourself some slack, and laugh at how life can be! What do you have to lose except worry, hate, and some righteousness? Trust me, they just weigh you down. Let the love allow you to soar. You may find that you can even fly!

Fay Thompson