“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are” Marianne Williamson.
When was the last time you can remember feeling a sense of joy in your life? A complete and intense happiness? A peaceful feeling of utter contentment?
It may have been a while…
Is something lacking?
The busyness and demands of daily life can often lead us keep our heads down and plough through each day without feeling too much because we’ve got so many demands on our time and attention.
This can lead us to lose our sense of perspective. And we may wind up feeling a sense of something lacking.
We may feel we’re haven’t got enough in our lives.
Not enough time, not enough job satisfaction, not enough support and love in our relationships, not enough money… Or we feel we don’t have a big enough home, a new enough car, not enough friends, the wrong kind of clothes, or hair or make-up. We convince ourselves we don’t have a good enough body, or good looks or an attractive enough personality.
We focus on what we’re lacking, or rather, our perceptions of deficiency.
We lose track of the good in our lives and in ourselves.
There are often deep-seated reasons why we feel a sense of lack in certain areas, which can take time to realize, understand and address.
Focus on what’s good
However, you can help yourself to break this cycle of feeling deficient by actively deciding to focus on what’s good about your life and yourself.
If writing things down appeals to you, try starting a gratitude journal – each day, when you get up in the morning, write maybe five things for which you’re grateful, to start your day in a positive frame of mind.
Or, as Julia Cameron suggests, at the end of the day write a ‘Ta-da!’ list: a list of things which you’ve achieved today. To give yourself a pat on the back; to recognize what you’ve done and what you are capable of achieving.
We can easily get stuck in a “poor little me…” mindset, only focusing on what we perceive is the negative in our lives. And we project that onto other people which has two effects: 1) we see the worst in other people which prevents us connecting with others on a meaningful level and 2) people feel our negativity and find it difficult to communicate with us, both of which tend to reinforce that perception of deficiency.
So, it comes down to a choice we can make. We can focus on what we think is negative or we can consciously decide to recognize the good in ourselves, others and the environment in which we live.
In yogic terms, we can learn to practise contentment, or samtosha.
A true contentment which means we are living in the present – we no longer attach our sense of happiness to acquiring things, or worrying about what people think of us.
In practising contentment, we are able to appreciate who we are and what we have – just as they are.
And with it, we can also practise non-attachment (aparigraha). As we find contentment we no longer attach labels to whether circumstances or events are good or bad. We can stop trying to change ourselves, our environment and other people into what we think they should be. We can stop judging the outcomes of situations. We can find inner peace and stillness.
We recognize that all things change and pass. We can connect to the natural joy which is within all of our hearts.
Joy is already in your world
I love the quote with which I opened this post because it suggests that joy is already there within us: joy is what happens if we open ourselves up to being content with who we are.
By removing the blinkers which cloud our judgement when we worry about what we think we lack, we connect to the well-spring of joy which resides within each of us.
Your heart knows the answer
It’s already there. Our hearts are naturally full of joy, compassion and love.
Sit quietly, close your eyes and place your hands over the centre of your chest to connect with your heart centre. Ask, with a genuine sense of open enquiry, what is good in my life? Listen to what your heart tells you.
Go on, try it. And feel the joy!
Stella Tomlinson teaches Dru yoga in Southampton, UK. Dru yoga is a flowing and therapeutic style of yoga, characterised by graceful movements, directed breathing, relaxation techniques and working with affirmations and visualisations. Connect with Stella via Facebook and Twitter.