June, 2016

“I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.”
~Hafiz of Persia

(ED NOTE: Not purely medical, but great article)

Are you moving too fast to enjoy life? Are you caught up in problems and struggles? Are you pressing forward on automatic, burning the candle at both ends?

This post is all about slowing down – and I’m writing it for myself as much as for anyone reading this. Because it’s time to stop, be still, hop off the treadmill, and return to sanity.

It’s so easy to slip away from being aware. Even with the best of intentions, before we know it, we find ourselves moving mindlessly through life. We go through the motions, taking care of obligations, inhabiting habit patterns, and meanwhile longing for a time when the to-do list is empty. Our minds are caught in mental whirlwinds while we are missing out on what is already here.

We feel separate, deadened, and half-alive.

Joyful living takes commitment. It asks us to be awake and aware in the moments of our lives. It invites us to stem the momentum of our habits so we can reclaim peace, appreciation, wonder, awe, presence.

Do you want to master the art of joyful living? Integrate these 10 steps in your life, and the seeds of joy will flourish endlessly.

1. Bring silence and stillness into your life

If we turn down the volume on all the noise in our lives, we discover the amazing fact that silence and stillness are already here. And when we intentionally allow ourselves to be still, we naturally open to a deep appreciation of the present moment. We become relaxed, grounded and clear, and stress begins to melt away.

How can you bring silence into your life? When can you stop and be still?

2. Clean up

Someone recently told me she feels disgusted when she looks into her closet because of all the clutter. It”s a shame because every moment of disgust is a moment empty of joy.

If there is anything you are procrastinating about, anything you can easily fix, anyone who drags you down, pay attention. Don’t wait or settle for good enough. Carve out the time, figure out a solution, and clean it up. You are making the space for joy, peace, and happiness to illuminate your life.

3. Mind your own business

Do you want to be unhappy and frustrated? Then try controlling things you can’t actually do anything about. Like other people or most situations or the past or future.

If you are caught in an emotional reaction, turn the mirror onto yourself. Let the story go, and see what is actually true in your direct experience. Bring compassion right into the places where it is needed most.

Diligently work on the areas where you get stuck, and joy will naturally shine through you.

4. Give to others whatever you feel you are lacking

So many of us want attention, love, and understanding. We live in a state of lack, thinking that life can begin if only we get what we think we need.

Consider that you may not actually need what you think you need. It might just be an old story that has outworn its welcome.

Instead of living in lack, contemplate generosity. Give out to others what you want or need. Pull out the stops in offering attention, interest, and caring. Your sense of lack will be transformed into fullness. Believing you don’t have enough becomes love overflowing.

5. Use your senses

Life is so abundant right before our very eyes. Slow down and take the time to see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. Eating an apple becomes a sensual delight, doing the dishes a symphony.

6. Recognize what is working

It is so easy to focus on problems and unhappy feelings. They grab our attention and won’t let go like a dog feasting on a juicy bone.

Take stock of what is working in your life. Is your living situation a good one? Do you know people who you love and appreciate? Do you enjoy your daily runs or a good home-cooked meal? Simply look around you, and you may be surprised by the bounty that is already present.

7. Live in forgiveness

If a grudge is interfering with your joy of life, then it requires your loving attention. Don’t let the minutes tick by while you live in self-righteousness or regret. Neutralize the stories from the past, and make the choice to live joyfully now.

Then live in amends. If you feel wronged by someone or you hurt another, deal with it. Don’t let it fester. Make a lifestyle of living free from hurts and grudges. You will feel strong, clear, and empowered.

8. Learn from life experiences

Sometimes the road of life is a bumpy one. If you want to master joyful living, be open to learning from the challenges that life brings you. Be honest about what buttons get pushed and recognize when you have dropped into a hole that you can’t seem to find your way out of.

Difficult life experiences are designed to show us the areas in our lives where we are not yet free. Use these situations well for your own liberation. You might have noticed that the teachings come until we understand the lesson. If there is a self-defeating pattern playing out in your life, slow it down so you can become conscious of what you are doing. Then make different, better choices with your eyes wide open.

9. Be pleasant

No matter what is going on in your life, show up in an open, good-natured way. No one likes a Negative Nancy. Stop complaining, and instead be patient, open, kind, and agreeable in your day-to-day life.

10. Move in the direction of joy

Every moment offers a choice. Take a look at your life, and it will show you what you value. Are you choosing stress, conflict, and unhappiness?

Joy provides the perfect barometer for navigating through life. All you need to do is recognize what brings you joy, then follow it. Simple, right? Make room in your life for what is positive, light, and life-affirming.  You will have mastered the art of joyful living.

Do you live joyfully? Where do you get stuck? What other suggestions do you have?  I’d love to hear…


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