Finding What Brings You Joy
Humans are the only species that feel disconnected from their origins. We search for meaning and purpose because we are aware that something is missing.
Other species on our planet feel their innate connection to the earth. You don’t see animals lining up to purchase the latest self-help books.I often marvel at the birds that are clearly not stressed about finding their daily bread. They are simply in the moment, and somehow know that what they need will be provided.
My dog Bruce had his priorities straight from the get go. He would have traded the most valuable crown jewels for his beloved slimy tennis ball. ‘I have met a number of Zen masters in my life, and most of them were Cats’, writes Eckart Tolle. I always marvel at how mine can seemingly spend 20 out of 24 hours sleeping and never seem bored. I believe their source of contentment is that they are present in the moment.
We lose our priorities along the paths of our complicated lives and must work at getting them back. The quest for meaning is something we need to consciously seek and make a part of our lives, or it will pass us by. If we don’t make it a conscious choice, we will find our selves at the end of our lives deeply regretting why we didn’t do more of the things that were really important and less of the things that weren’t.
I can’t imagine anyone saying on their deathbed ‘I just wish I had worked harder and spent less time with my family’, or ‘ I just wish I had made more money and spent less time enjoying music
‘ Most people go to their graves with their music still in them’ observed Disraeli. We can choose to not be one of these causalities. But we will be if we choose to live an unexamined life, where we let life happen to us rather than steer it in the direction of our joy.
So how do we find what makes us truly happy?
Rather than give in to the temptation to get busy and do we need to get un-busy and just be. Making time for this even as little as 20 minutes a day will train you to listen to the inner voice which will have the answers you seek.
How to find your joy:
1.Go someplace in natures that inspires you and meditate on what gives meaning to your life. What do you feel passionately about? Take the time to daydream about the times in your life that you felt the happiest. What were the qualities that created this? Be present and just listen to what bubbles up from the quiet voice within.
Perhaps you remember lying on the grass looking up at the clouds for hours, just feeling your connection to the earth and the air and all that is. Maybe it was on your first camping trip when you discovered the magic of the trees and your deep connection to them. Perhaps you used to dance for hours and hours or sing to the wind as you hung high in a tree?
It might be something you used to have in your life that gave you great joy such as music, or scrap booking, art, dance or writing poetry. What ever it is, just thinking about doing more of this should make your heart sing.These are the things that fully engaged you, causing you to be present in the moment, not feeling depressed about the past or anxious about the future.
2. List these things in the order of the strongest first and then write what you would need to do in order to make more time for this in your life.
3. Reflect on what happened along the way that got you away from following your joy? Journal about these things in a way that does not blame. See what ‘ah ha’s‘ come up as a result.
4. Show compassion and forgive yourself for the self-betrayal. Ultimately everything is our choice .We may not have had a choice as children, but we do as adults.When we realize we are not victims and that we have chosen our life, then we can make different choices. Every moment provides a new opportunity to do it differently.
5 .Make a commitment to yourself to give yourself the gift of happiness. Decide what amount of time you will allot to doing the thing that give you joy each day or week. Put it on your calendar and treat it as a priority. This is your lifeline to joy. Like my dog Bruce’s treasured tennis ball, carry it in your heart everywhere and look for opportunities to spend time doing more of it.
Be realistic and don’t feel you have to carve out huge blocks of time at first, or you will never do it. Spend 10 minutes here and there, and work it into your life again. I just started singing again after 5 years absence and am making the commitment to just warm up the voice at least 15 minutes a day. The joy I feel is profound as the rich memories come flooding back of the years of my life I devoted to developing this art. I wonder how I got away from it, and vow to never let this happen again.
If you find that you only allow one hour per week or even per month to do the things you really care about and the rest of the time doing things you feel you should do, you may find the source of your unhappiness right there. Our ability to be truly happy will be in relationship to the time we allow to do the things that bring us deep fulfillment, and be fully present in them.
Please share with us the things that brought you joy in the past and your commitment to do more of them in your life.
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Erica Sofrina is an Internationally recognized speaker, teacher and author. She is the founder of Earth Spirit Adventure Travel and the Academy of Feng Shui and has a Consulting Practice in Half Moon Bay in Northern California