We all want to be healthy, to feel happy, to be fulfilled and surrounded by love, to have a sense of abundance, to have a peaceful mind free from negative emotions. What is getting in the way and are all these things connected?
This became the topic of a recent trip as we explored together what we could do for ourselves to change our lives or the ways we looked at them, to experience more joy.
This exploration brought us to some simple realizations and commitments to ourselves, and brought out the smiles on our faces.
One thing we realized was that we could make simple shifts in our priorities, just reframe things so that we put ourselves first a little more. We could commit to using a bit more of our time for self care in a way that would not seem overwhelming or impossible. Things like adding in a few yoga postures in the morning (why not?), doing a little less housework and a little more walking in the woods, not being so anxious to answer every email and return every call but to spend some time reading a novel, and mostly to accept the things we like to do and want to do and not listen to that voice in our head which wants to “should” on us, which wants us to have more, be more, and do more. Instead we want to prioritize those things that speak to our deeper longing for a rich full life.
It also became clear that the cultivation of gratitude for the good things was one of the most important shifts we could make. Life is a miracle, yeah it’s not perfect: lots of hardship, much suffering, and lots of loss- but there is so much good.
Think a bit and you can recognize the good and potential for good in your own life. It is much greater than your financial woes, it can help you through your fatigue and overwhelm, it is there despite your loneliness, it is there in your close relationships, and it is there in the potential of each day. The good is there when we take a moment to be in the moment and notice the flower, the colors, and the opportunity. Each of us found a capacity and a willingness to be more appreciative and grateful, and we could feel the joy rising up and shining out our smiles.
I love this quote by Melody Beattie: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
Forgiveness is another big piece. Letting go of the past and forgiving self and others is crucial work and a life long practice. It doesn’t mean that we need to allow inappropriate behavior or endure negative relationships. It means that we can stay in the present and feel peace inside ourselves when we engage our compassion and our good boundaries.
And what about health? We do know that many illnesses are stress related. And we are aware that health has an emotional component. There is definitely a correlation between happiness and good health. That is not to say that illness can’t strike at any time even to those who take good care of themselves and have a very positive attitude. But for most of us, self-care is a challenge, and putting ourselves first in small ways is a key factor in maintaining our physical health as well as our enthusiasm for life. When we decide to reprioritize, we make time for those things that serve us well. Consider acupuncture as wellness routine for you, and make that call.
An open heart keeps love flowing and all those good feelings. Notice where you are closed down and take a chance to be friendly and warm, connect to someone through your heart to their heart, and feel how good it is to smile.
An adventurous spirit frees the mind to imagine what if, to take flight towards amazing possibilities, to stay in the moment noticing what is there for us, rather than depending on a routine to see us through. Take a trip, sign up for a class, call on a new friend- these are all things that cultivate your adventurousness and can help you find your joy. Let me know what good things you are noticing…
And join me for an adventure. Coming up: Oaxaca- the Magic and the Medicine, Jan 15-25 2016, Women’s Transformational Kayak Journey- Sept 18-20