The title of this post is the sub-title of my blog, and I thought tonight I would write a little about what I mean when I say it.
I am a big proponent of living a joyous life. I know some, however, who think I am nuts to believe such a thing as a joyous life is possible. I understand that kind of doubt, because it defined most of my adult life. I feared I would never meet my own expectations, nor those of my parents, my teachers, the Air Force, (of which my dad was a part,) the U.S. government, the planet, the solar system, the galaxy, nor the universe itself. I took way too much to heart, from the time I was a kid. One of my sisters has described my family as a gang of narcissists with low self-esteem. Thanks, M. I can certainly relate to that description.
But then I began to pay attention to some of the people I was reading — up ’til then, I read the words but didn’t really let them in, not in the way they were meant to. As I’ve written before, I was doing what I so often do when I am preparing a presentation — I take in as much good information as I can, but the real focus doesn’t happen right away. When I was a pastor in the Adirondacks, I would read the scripture for the week on Monday, and by Saturday, the sermon was written in my head and all I needed was a key to get it onto the screen.
The key that finally unlocked all of this new understanding for me was unusual, but it certainly worked. I was somewhat hurt by something a friend said to me — nothing really important in the grand scheme of things, but it set me off. I was angry and hurt and I let him know in no uncertain terms how I felt. Then I sat down, and noticed a Four Agreements card, from Don Miguel Ruiz. It said No one can hurt you unless you let them. I had read this before, and discussed it with my guide, my sister S., many times, but until that moment, I never understood what it meant.
And you know, it means exactly what it says. No one can hurt me unless I let them hurt me. Not that people won’t try to hurt me, or that someone might say something hurtful without meaning it. This phrase has nothing to do with what other people say, do or think about me. It’s about how I treat myself, and about not letting the opinions of others define me, positively or negatively, but thinking and feeling for myself, deciding who I was, and who I want to be.
That is the long lead-up to why I am inclining toward a life of joy. Since the whole shebang is in my hands, I can make myself miserable, or happy, or angry, or fearful, or reckless, or any other emotion I choose to feel. As that is the case, why not choose to be happy? It was not a difficult choice.
So why do I say I am inclining toward a life of joy? I believe the only sensible way to live is to aim for the happiness I want, and to work on being in that state every minute for the rest of my life. I know I won’t be joyful every minute. I will feel sadness, fear, anger; I had a day like that last week. But I remind myself that I make the choice, all the time, and I choose joy. No more guilt or self-denigration, no more hurt over what others say. I choose joy, and I am inclining in that direction now, and for as long as I possibly can.