I have sought more joy in my life for a very long time. Since adulthood I have inherently known that joy is fundamental to a meaningful, fulfilled life. However, it was not until I realized I had grown to identify with, and even desire things that kept me from feeling truly joyful that I discovered joy is always an inside job.
Why would I do that? Why did I lose touch with my true inner joy to begin with? To get to the root of all of that would be quite a saga. I could go through a long list of values ascribed to conditions and systems I believed were not only real but vital to my survival. I could go back to childhood and dig through family beliefs about money or love. I might even try to understand when and under what influence I felt I had to prove the value of my existence. In any event suffice it to say that I learned to turn my power over to outside conditions; giving the appearance of things, circumstances and events the ability to make or break me according to their standards. My security, success and self-worth depended on achievements determined as valid by the chorus of critics I deemed as official in the outside world.
Here are the questions I asked that helped me realize I had not consciously listened to the call of my true joy up to that point: What is the music that my soul wants to sing through me? What is the wisdom that I have been carrying around that wants to express in my life’s purpose? What am I passionate about at my core that is uniquely me?
Once I asked those questions everything that was in the way of knowing the answers showed up for me to step beyond. I had to get real with the fact that coming into joyful, satisfied living meant that I acknowledge I am more than what I had chosen to be up to that point. I had to understand that I had been reacting to beliefs that I could be stymied; that others held the power over me, even when I thought I was coming up with solutions to problems. My focus was still on the problems. Kind of like being in a room and looking for a way out but being trapped by a belief that those four walls have to contain a doorway. Maybe the answer is jumping over the walls.
I held some pretty rigid beliefs about what joy should look like from others’ perspectives and my ego often pointed out when I was not meeting expectations around happiness. I began to notice as those limiting ideas about what joy should be surfaced by paying attention to my emotions of disappointment and self-judgment. You see, I was defining joy based mostly upon my emotional reaction to conditions I thought were not working out in my life, rather than what I truly felt joyful about coming from my individual heart and soul. I had gotten into the habit of pushing against what I did not want instead of feeling empowered to determine and create what I wanted. Believing in the power of my own unique dreams and desires, believing in my worthiness and deservedness was the path to recognizing the power within.
As I practiced meditation during which I allowed calm and peace to flow through my body I discovered the experience of a new reality, of living in conscious connection with the pure inner essence of who I am more and more. My priority became tuning into an energy of inner clarity and wisdom; of making peace with myself and my life in the present moment and knowing that when I focus on my inner goodness all is well for me. I began to see myself and my life through the eyes of love rather than fear. I stopped labeling feelings as negative and listened to what they were telling me about my beliefs. I accepted that I am a multi-faceted person with a unique, creative perspective. From this place of contentment I became motivated to embark on a path of living in conscious connection with the true source of my joy – my soul self. My path to joy has been winding but ultimately it is leading me to become more fully who I am as a wholly loved and loving, divine human being.
What if I have the power to create what is joyfully calling to me from within?
The answers that came through my questioning experience changed my perspective because I was able to recognize when I was feeling disempowered. The shift came when I chose to own my power to create what felt joyful to me. Letting conditions control my emotional reactions kept me feeling like a victim. How had I lost that sense of living through my personal power? I recalled what it felt like to be a child playing in the park, rolling in the grass, looking up at the sky, the birds chirping in the background. That child-like freedom to express, to feel, to enjoy and to explore in the moment was enlivening. When had I stopped being a conduit for the expression of that joy?
I have learned that we really never stop questioning, discovering and experiencing who we are in new ways. It is an eternal process. But I did want to understand how to be happy more of the time, and to live from a place of freedom and self-love rather than judgement and fear. So the next step was to understand how to be consistent with the process of creating from joy. I mentioned that once I started asking how to live with more joy many limiting beliefs that stood in the way of confidently hearing and following the call to joy came up for me to recognize. Part of my process has been to take time each morning to listen to my inner self-talk. Am I satisfied with what I tell myself or is it uncomfortable?
As I first practiced feeling my feelings around not being worthy or good enough I easily slipped back into feelings of failure, shame and guilt. There were times when I just couldn’t stop the merry-go-round of pain and I was easily flung off into the worst-case scenario of whatever issue I was confronting. I have to say one thing about myself here – I am one of the most determined people I know about this subject of evolving into what I call, higher consciousness. I have been on a journey of discovering how to communicate with the divine within me since I first tried a ouiji board as a teenager. The journey has been mired with false expectations followed by revelations, followed by painful beliefs, anxiety, feeling dejected and essentially all of the crap I threw in the way of loving myself through life. As I look at this journey to date I recognize that these have all been growth opportunities that have led me to present perceptions. I never gave up on my intention to be more, to know more to change and to grow. The idea of experiencing the fullness of unconditional love – how beautiful and wonderful that experience must be – has
called me forward through examination and experiences in religious organizations, a variety of education approaches, traumatic incidents, international travels, family relationships and dynamics, spiritual teachers and professional careers. In many cases I would get swallowed up by negative feelings that resulted from any less than comfortable experiences. While I was very good at hiding those feelings, they remained underneath my world-view and colored the way I approached life – it became harder and more difficult to be happy.
The upside of looking at life through lenses clouded by fear and a need to control conditions is that I have learned to come to myself mindfully and compassionately. I can recognize when I have fallen into an old energy pattern and see its undermining pull into panic or anxiety. Herein lies the ongoing work of self-awareness. This process is actually something that I have consciously integrated into my life in order to manage my intentions and attention to joy. It is also the source of my power to create my life through joy.
Self-Acceptance is Key
What is that we need to understand in order to change our self-perception from weak, powerless and fearful to strong, creative and free? Not only to think of ourselves differently but to actually shift into a consciousness that is open to a new way of living. Cultivating the courage to be willing to step into a perception of the self beyond uncomfortable beliefs and limitations and hit “reset” is one thing. Courage also allows us to trust in a process of growth, integration and acceptance of who we are wholly -body, mind and spirit. Being aware of our emotions also supports willing self-discovery. Sometimes we refer to this process as “finding our purpose”.
But how can we find our purpose if we do not accept that our unique personal dreams and desires are integral to our creative message, our unique gifts; and that our inner essence is a powerful energy always available to tap into to express that beautiful, unique spark? Loving ourselves for who we are, unconditionally, demonstrates the self-acceptance and belief that allows the cooperative energies of the universe to join us, to work through us to bring our personal joy to life. That means being responsible for how we feel, what we think and why we want what we want in a loving way – whatever feels right and good to you and you alone. This may sound selfish to some, but if we cannot love ourselves, how can we accept or love another? If we do not love ourselves will others love us? The adage about hiding your light under a bushel is this very idea. We each have a light, a spark, a radiant glow within that guides us to that which is joyful. I am on an intentional quest to follow that spark, to breathe into it and allow it to grow, and see life through the eyes of the amazing creator of joy that I am. I have lived the opposite of that and it has not served to lift me up, or those around me. It is time to surrender the reasons why I cannot be joyful, and consciously embrace the never-ending magic of a fully free and joyful life.
If you would like to understand how to connect with your unique, inner spark of joy and reset your path forward through love, harmony and peace, rather than struggle, reach out to me for a consultation. firstname.lastname@example.org
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