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With so much change, challenge and uncertainty going on in the world right now, both at a macro level and at a very individual personal level, it can be easy to forget that there is always an opportunity to find joy as a deep, sincere, heartfelt, real and practical response to our lives. I like to say that if worry actually helped me in any given situation, I would attempt to do more of it. But so far I have found that it doesn’t, so instead I focus my attention on how I can feel more joy in order to move forwards with greater ease and momentum. Here are some reflections that have helped me to do that:
1. Consider that transformation is not a single moment of awakening, after which you can finally relax, but rather a continual process of choosing those principles that create success for you in each moment and each day. Increasingly, I notice that the challenge for myself and for many people I talk with is not finding the right answers, but how to live those answers as a daily practice. And I don’t mean ‘meditate every day’. I mean answers like ‘be loving toward myself and others’, ‘see the good in all things’, ‘find the joy that is present’, ‘maintain a positive focus’. (But do meditate if that works for you too)
2. Let go. In reality, there is very little over which you actually have control. I like the Woody Allen quote: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” What you certainly do have choice in, however, is your attitude. Becoming more aware and more skilled at choosing your attitude is perhaps the greatest skill any of us can learn in iedr to have more success and happiness in our lives.
3. Cooperate. This is another way of saying “let go”. We create massive amounts of pressure by holding onto unrealistic standards or fixed ideas about the way things ‘should be’. These rarely have anything to do with the way things are. The more we can come into cooperation with what is (including ourselves and how we are showing up), generally the more effective we will be. Still another way of saying this is: acceptance. Acceptance of what is, acceptance of ourselves, acceptance of others. I like the old missive: “Acceptance is the first law of Spirit”.
4. OK, let’s continue on the theme of letting go. An additional tenet you may see an opportunity to embrace right now is “less is more”. I have found this to be true in so many contexts, whether it’s what I put on my to-do list for the day, how I build strategy in my business, or what I consider to be essential to my happiness and prosperity. It’s not that less is better than more, but that when we simplify we tend to be more available to the greater possibility.
5. Take care of yourself first… so that you can better help take care of others. High achievers and those who are committed to service often find this one the hardest. They want to take care of everyone else first. But this tenet has never been more in focus than now. Maybe the only thing you need to do today is take care of yourself really, really well. People say: but isn’t that selfish? What about all the people that depend on me? What about my work? I say: “Imagine if everyone was taking really good care of themselves. How different might the world look right now?” In addition to not being a burden to others, the truth is that when you take care of yourself you’re much better able to serve others too, which is the intent of this tenet. In a work context, you’re far more productive when you practice this. If you’re struggling with how to take care of yourself first, you could start with points 1 through 4 above!
6. Carpe Diem. (Translation: Seize the day). This is my family motto. I’m not sure who exactly coined it for our family or when it was adopted, but how cool is that! In fact, on its own, I think it’s fairly meaningless as it can easily be interpreted as an invitation to more busy-ness and no one needs to be any more of a ‘busy fool’ than they already are. I prefer to hear the motto as an invitation to a deeper opportunity in the day: to see today as another gift that we get to enjoy, to explore, to learn and grow, whatever may be the events or circumstance. Every moment is a miracle, if we can just open our eyes to see it. It really is. ‘Seizing the day’ for me is often about taking a breath, letting go, relaxing and coming into cooperation, and becoming more alive to the beauty and possibility of what is already present.
7. Finally, let’s consider that we have so much to be grateful for. This is perhaps the most simple and most effective practice for greater happiness, calm and even productivity. Take time to count your blessings. What are you grateful for today? Start to list them, in your mind or on paper. No thing is too small. I encourage you to take a moment to call to mind a few things right now.
There may be huge challenges in your life at this time. I don’t for one moment deny the reality of that. But remember also that today is a joyful day. As you awaken to that joy so you will rise to and overcome all that is ahead of you. We are all in this together. You can never truly be alone. Today may in fact be your greatest day.
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