Is it really possible to enjoy our daily life regardless of what it is we do or what is happening?
Are some of us just lucky – and are naturally happy people who always seem to see the glass half-full? It is true that some people have certain dispositions in one or the other direction.
But I know from experience that what matters most is an intentional act to bring joy to whatever we do or encounter. — But you say — would that not appear fake or insincere ? But go ahead and try that for a day. You will realize that you have that source within you and you just have to bring it to the surface.
So let’s take an example– one of my many ordinary days filled with errands, taking kids here and there, grocery shopping, standing in line, being put on hold for too long, etc. etc. Just recently I went to the grocery store with someone and she kept telling herself — I hate grocery shopping — I hate it! – Well- what could she do differently? We all have to do things we don’t like. There are usually practical steps we can take — What makes a big difference is to go in the mornings — it is not crowded; everything is still in order and the store is clean. Staff is in a good mood. But If it is not possible; what can we do ?
Since most people have to do their shopping after work — most are tired, impatient, stressed etc. and it is easy if we are not conscious to get caught in such a negative atmosphere. But very quickly we can make a decision and remember —YES the magic word–GRATITUDE. I have written about it before — this switch called gratitude. It is amazing how well it works and why almost no one is using it. There are so many things in any given moment we can we grateful for and believe me I spent far too many years doing the opposite — criticizing, complaining and as a result was miserable for most of the time. I can make it a habit to smile –it does not cost me anything–and what a difference that makes! I can ask people I meet “How are you?” with sincerity and actually listen to their response. I can think of how lucky I am to be able to find everything I need on a daily basis in one place. We will find many things to be grateful for where-ever we are. And if we Mothers have kids with us — they will catch on and behave much better! If I could relive all these years, this is the one change I would make.
Some years ago, I had the opportunity to spend two years in Japan. It was an incredible experience – everyone was so calm, orderly and polite. Even though people were moving very quick — they needed to go to work like us!– still they were calm and present. I was amazed just at the train stations in Tokyo — there were masses of people waiting for trains. But always an orderly line. People were polite and quiet. There were so many people waiting at these train stations that one had to use force and push until you got in. But even that was done with tranquility and politeness. It was a pleasant experience. It was a complete different environment. I wanted more than anything else to take this feeling of being calm and being present with me back to the West. But I was not able to do that until I finally learned that we could actually change these mental habits!
I still catch myself feeling hurried, impatient but I know how to stop that very quickly. Some of these habits are so deeply ingrained that it can take a long time to completely change them. Once I get myself back to an inner state of tranquility everything seems to work much better!
We all have one life to live! We make our goals, dream about the future. We might like to become famous or at least accomplished in our chosen field–respected and we may even reach some of these goals.
But what if we fail to develop the skill to be happy by using the right tools which we all have available to us! What if at some point we realize we have not been able to find fulfillment, joy and love which we all long for? Life is too short to spend most of our time being stressed, worried, uneasy. We can and should strife for big goals — but with the right foundation.
We need to make sure that we connect and stay connected to that limitless source of love, joy, tranquility which I call God — other people have different names and some claim that they don’t need to believe in anything — they can still be happy and good people. That is true — whatever one thinks what the name of this source is, it exists and striving to live a life with joy and love will automatically bring us closer to that source.
Recently I watched a german talk show called “Nachtcafe”; which brings people from all walks of life together and share some topics. The topic was depression-how to deal with it. Two guests particularly got my attention. They were recounting some of their traumatic experiences from their childhood. And when they were asked how their families dealt with these events–they said that no one ever spoke to the kids about it. There was just silence. I remember my own childhood in a similar fashion.
Though I have never experienced this kind of tragedy in my family–still I was affected by events in our community. But no one ever spoke about it. It was like — if you did not talk about it–sooner or later these events would just sink into oblivion. Until now I thought that it was just my family who never spoke about anything. At least not with us kids. We were left in the dark. If we asked questions we were told that we did not need to know anything about it. Of course it was well intentioned but that silence did not allow us to digest and heal.
This silence did not only relate to big tragic events. It also happened on a daily basis. No matter what happened one was expected to just deal with it — alone. Any talk about it would be seen as inappropriate.
Thankfully today there is much more awareness in that area–but it is still very difficult to express honestly what one feels or thinks–there is so much fear of not being understood and accepted. Fear of being judged, ridiculed etc. I have made it my goal to become the person especially with my family — who can truly listen — maybe I will not be able to understand everything — but I can make a sincere effort to truly care. That goes a long way to create an atmosphere of safety, peace and happiness.
In conclusion — In order to live a balanced and happy life we need to focus more on the internal – the Mind, our Heart, our Emotions and tend to them like we would cultivate a garden.