The pleasure we derive from life is not based on what happens to us, it is created by our responses. Two people can be in the exact same situation and have two completely different experiences depending on their perceptions. While we cannot always control what happens outside of us, we can learn to shift our perceptions and transform our experiences.
Contrary to popular belief, humans were not made to struggle. I firmly believe we do not have these loving hearts and the yearning for beauty and connection just to spend our days mired in suffering. But when the dominant cultural belief system is bent towards struggling, it can be challenging to experience anything else.
Like all change, shifting to a paradigm of joy requires consistent effort. What, work to enjoy?! At first, yes. Creating a new habit takes diligence, especially around such a deeply ingrained belief system. Every time you notice yourself thinking about how hard life is for you, shift your focus.
Choose to abide in joyful awareness. You are not ignoring reality, rather you are choosing to see it through a different lens. Instead of perpetuating the suffering, you choose to empower your own joy.
There are many ways this can be played out, and only you can discover how to dance with life. But here are some tips that have helped me live in more joy and freedom.
~ Practice gratitude and appreciation. For everything, all the time.
~ Open to the state of flow. Great athletes and artists create in the state of flow. Meditators and yogis might call it being present. The idea is to be as rooted in the current moment as possible, without regret or worry.
~ Choose to learn. Whatever experience you may be having, you can receive a valuable lesson from it.
~ Go outside. Climb trees, walk on the waterfront, camp, hike, swim, explore. Observe and learn from nature as she dances with herself, made visible in the ways that plants and animals interact with each other.
~ Make time for play. Nothing is as important as your mental health. Working all the time makes you less effective and less fun to be around (even for yourself). Play invigorates our creativity and inspires our higher intelligence.
~ Get in your body. To learn to dance with life, sometimes you need to literally dance. Fully inhabiting your body, through a physical and spiritual practice like Yoga, ecstatic dance, or Tai Chi, will allow you greater access to your innate joy.
~ Follow your bliss. Joseph Campbell had it figured out. Discover what it is that brings you the most joy, and go for it. If you cannot immerse in your passion because of family or other obligations, at least devote some time every day to something you truly love creating.
If you have ever watched children play, you have seen that our essence is joyful. We were designed to evolve through pleasure. This addiction to struggle is making all of us sick. But somewhere inside you is the memory of how to dance.
Some part of you remembers how to flow, remembers how to trust, and remembers how to harmonize with the essence of life. Come, lets dance