Living This Joy

While I was struggling with illness, I realized something important. I may not have control over what happens to me in life or if my body and I are on the same page, but I do have control over my thoughts, my self-talk, emotions, and how I handle what life throws my way. As a Harry Potter lover, I am all over magic and alchemy. For me, the greatest magic that I have found in life is our ability to create our own joy and spread love through controlling our appraisals of situations and learning to live in gratitude.

This is not all rainbows and sunshine. Gratitude is not an attitude, it is a practice. I stumble, I fall, and then I pick my scraped-and-bloodied-by-life self back up and start again. It is not about being perfect (which is hard to swallow as a recovering perfectionist), it is about doing my best to live the best life I can…because the work is worth it.

Along the way, there have been guiding forces that have helped me. Louise Hay through her affirmation-filled books and inspirational interviews; acquaintances who were kind enough to share their life stories and taught me vicariously; friends who are wise beyond their years; my parents, who can always talk me down from heightened emotions and stimulate my productive use of thoughts as an agent of power and action, rather than passively being acted upon by them; the I AM documentary; spiritual communities I have partaken in; God; faith; Buddhism; the Dalai Lama; witnessing the flow of nature; Marianne Williamson; Wayne Dyer; Kris Carr; Carloyn Myss; and countless other elements and individuals have inspired me along this journey. From each of these elements, I have taken a piece of wisdom that fills my soul and helps me find my way to whole-hearted living, joy-filled living.

I cannot leave this page without mentioning Brené Brown, either. Brené Brown’s books opened a floodgate of understanding for me. “Dare Greatly” is my new personal motto that I try to live my life by, even if I still struggle and go back to hiding under my Rock of Safety on frequent. Through reading her works and listening to her OWN specials and TEDtalks I am learning to embrace the terrifying feelings of vulnerability, stop allowing joy to be foreboding, and live life in the ring. I still retreat sometimes, but not as often as I used to. As I embrace this new perspective, life has brought so many new opportunities, relationships, and blessings to my life.

It may be difficult, but if you make a commitment to finding gratitude daily and manage your self-talk, change will find itself entering your life in ways you never expected.  Find your joy and embrace it!