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Your natural state of joy

by Sandy Scherer

When was the last time you reveled in a big belly laugh? When something was tears-running-down-your-face can’t-breathe funny? It always feels so good! And it truly is wonderful medicine.

For some of us, it just doesn’t happen often enough. We live in a culture that values hard work and seriousness, and that’s a familiar place for me. Yes, I’ve reaped many benefits from that place. I also envy people who have what seems to be more balance — you know, the fun people! Maybe they know a secret I’m just now catching onto — The Natural State of a Human Being is Joy!

9697475-largeAnd it’s such a healthy state — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Kids are great at being in the natural state of joy — because they live in the moment. Somewhere along the way, many of us got caught up in the routine of life and its demands, and we lost sight of the fun. We get good at worrying and can’t see the truly exciting opportunities each and every single moment has to offer.

But it’s possible to get the joy back — to bring more balance into the joy / serious equation. It’s part of my journey and it may ring true for you or someone you know, too.

Start by naming five things you appreciate right now. They don’t have to be profound or grand. It could be your cup of tea or coffee. Are you smiling yet? You can expand this practice into an evening or morning ritual — of appreciating things that make you purely and truly happy. Over time, the heavier thoughts may make more room for lighter, happier ones. And before you know it, your joy shines from your very being — and it’s contagious in the very best of ways.

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Life-affirming Choices

by Jill Sockman

Choices. We are confronted with them constantly, from the minutiae of day-to-day existence to the overwhelming life and death decisions which become pivotal moments in our lives. It’s a privilege to have so much freedom — so many choices. What time to wake up, how to spend the morning hours before work begins, what to eat, how/if to exercise the body, brain, spirit. Pressing choices about health — our own or a loved one, significant professional changes, relationship decisions and everything in between. Who is doing all this deciding?

As adults, the obvious answer is “I am!” But are you, really? How many of your decisions are truly conscious? How often are they based on habit, familiarity or the comfort of your ego? How many decisions are a result of the desires and preferences of those around you or founded on the values of your parents or your environment? How many times do you say no when you really need to say yes or say yes when in your heart, the answer is no? If you’re not already, I urge you to start paying attention. I say this after sitting here writing for about forty minutes without my glasses.  The headache is imminent. Not doing something (laziness) is a choice, too. And each has a consequence.

In class on Sunday I was talking about how every decision we make — from how much water to drink in a day to the company we keep at dinner to the time we carve out for important relationships and spiritual growth — is serving our wellbeing in the moment and happiness in the future, or it isn’t. Simple enough, right? Pay attention. How many times do you put your wellbeing aside for the wishes of another or in service to your ego, or your happiness on hold from an unwillingness to dive a little deeper to cultivate the discipline necessary to change a past pattern? (Yes, I got up and got the glasses. Eventually.)

Our time here is short. Each of us is on a path that holds challenges and opportunities we cannot yet see — or often even imagine. Our ability to face those obstacles or snatch up those opportunities is highly dependent not just on present moment awareness, but how attuned we are to the part of us that knows if what we are about to do is in support of our wellbeing and long term happiness. Or not.

I believe there is no right or wrong — I just think there are choices that are life-affirming and those that aren’t. And the former are sometimes not easy, not popular, not supported, not obvious. Or everyone would make them all the time, and we KNOW that’s not the case. What’s the force behind your action (or lack of action)? Because once you know who is in the driver’s seat,  if it’s not the present moment YOU with your own best interest at heart? Kick ’em to the curb and take hold of the wheel. It’s your life and it’s happening whether you’re paying attention or not.