I am reading “The Book of Joy” by Douglas Abrams on the visit between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. These are two men I have the world full of respect and admiration for. Their sheer resilience and ability to bounce back, keep smiling and loving others no matter what adversity they face, is something I can only strive towards. I am enjoying their banter and playful teasing of each other and the fact that no matter how serious the subject of their conversation at times, they always find time to laugh a little. Both of them actually have reason to be unhappy, the Dalai Lama having been thrown out of his homeland, Desmond Tutu having been diagnosed with cancer (just to name one), but still they resemble joy incarnate. This got me thinking.
We oftentimes get so hung up on everything that is wrong in our lives or in our day that we forget everything that is good, beautiful and inspirational about it. I’m pretty sure there is no person out there that can say that they are happy with every aspect of their lives. Maybe you are in a job purely because you need to survive (like a lot of other people) but you literally have to drag yourself out of bed in the mornings to get there because you hate it. Maybe you are living somewhere that you find unbearable, but you have to live there because of your work. Maybe you are struggling with some disease or are going through a divorce. All of us face difficulties and challenges on a daily basis, but it is how you choose to see these difficulties and challenges that affects your state of happiness.
I recently read that the Tibetan monks that have been incarcerated and tortured by the Chinese government do not suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. The reason simply being that they have already forgiven their tormentors. That’s definitely a page out of their playbook we can learn from and one I firmly believe in. You cannot move forward in your life if you hold onto a grudge, however big or small it might be. Ironically, the only person that gets affected by holding a grudge is the person holding it.
I have started paying attention to my state of mind when I get up in the morning. If I feel good and decide it is going to be a good day, it normally is. When I feel “off” and think it is going to be a bad day – o my goodness! It normally turns out to be a real horror of a day! So, your state of mind and the choice you make about it first thing in the morning, can actually change your whole day.
It is also important to do things that you love. Make time for things that make you happy and do more of it. It doesn’t have to be a huge thing, but find those little things that really put a smile on your dial. This could be a picnic with your family on a week-end or making time for a sport or hobby you really like. Even something as simple as a nice bubble bath at night can help. Although you have to learn to accept and love your life, it is also important to find something in your life that will replenish your energy reserves and nothing lifts your mind, body and spirit as when you are laughing and having fun. Be creative in finding the thing that is going to make you laugh and have fun!
I am making it my mission this year to love my life just as it is and not think too much on how I wished it to be. At times it feels that happiness is always just out of reach. Partly, because we always think “if I can just still do this or have that or change this little thing in my life, sort out that cupboard or go to this event, then I’ll be happy“. So, why not let it all go and take time to smell the flowers.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure it puts a smile on your face and smile for smile you might begin loving your life!