Last updated on May 16th, 2013 at 12:56 pm
Living my dreams has been anything but a linear path, and the journey has been full of surprises along the way. The one consistent thread in my dream journey has been joy, and I have become a firm believer that the simple experience of feeling joy in our bodies, and moving in the direction of that joy, can lead us to our dreams.
This week I was reminded to “return to joy,” because I was feeling some doubts again, probably because I made a commitment last week to not beat myself up anymore! As if to test my resolve, the Universe sent up thoughts of self-doubt via the good ol’ “monkey mind” as the Buddhists call the chatter in our minds.
I am practicing responding to these thoughts by just acknowledging them – “Ah, it’s you, old friends! My silly feelings of unworthiness!” and refocusing on how I can create joy, now.
I’ve been journaling this week on what I can do now to ensure that I live all my dreams moving forward, and the consistent message that keeps arising in my journal is: be happy, now. Practice joy, now.
It’s The Reverse of What We Are Taught
In Western culture and society, we are taught in so many ways that happiness is tied to material results and outcomes.
We are taught that in order to be happy, you must achieve the goal first. So, you get the job, win the girl, buy the house, and then you can be happy.
The problem with this approach of course is it can result in postponing happiness indefinitely – until the next goal around the corner is reached – and it’s a way to set yourself up to never really win, because happiness is always one goal away.
What if we did the exact opposite, and just practice being happy now, wherever we are? And allowed the dreams to evolve and the path to unfold, while not needing things to happen in order to feel happy?
Releasing attachment to outcome is a Buddhist practice. Focus on the actions, not on the results, since the world is not entirely within our control.
With all of the best intentions in the world, and no matter how hard-working you may be, sometimes things simply do not work out. And who wants to attach their happiness to a goal that is ultimately beyond your control, due to countless factors in the universe?
Why not instead practice finding joy in the moment, now. And, let that joy lead you on the path.
Joy As A Signpost…
One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.” In my view, on my journey, joy can serve as a signpost, leading you to your dreams, and sometimes, back to yourself.
Feeling joy when moving in this direction? Keep going! Lacking joy in an area of your life? Find ways to create more of it!
All of my central dream visions have been sparked by joy.
Writing, reading and telling stories brings me joy. Dancing brings me tremendous joy.
Public speaking and having the ability to inspire and empower others brings me joy.
I have made these some of the central pursuits in my life, because I infallibly feel joy when dancing, speaking and telling stories.
This shows me that it is work that I am called to do. Why else would that spark of joy have been planted inside of me?
Losing Our Joy
Sometimes when life feels stressful, when we are overwhelmed or overworked, under-rested or under-compensated, we can lose that feeling of joy in our lives.
What brings it back for you? Who are the people in your life who bring you the most joy?
What are the activities that bring you the most joy?
Can you bring some more joy into your life this week?
Following the path of joy, and finding it in all that you do as much as possible, helps the universe to guide us in living our dreams, I believe.
When we celebrate the simple joys in our lives – whether it’s admiring the spring flowers on a walk; laughing with a child; or calling a friend to share someone we’ve accomplished – I believe we are inviting in more of it, and allowing it to grow.
What we focus on expands, as so many Law of Attraction teachers tell us over and over. Focus on joy, and you get more of it!
For me, there are days when I feel almost nothing but joy, when my heart simply sings, and times when I feel disconnected from my joy.
This past week, I was feeling a bit disconnected. So I checked in with my inner Goddess-self to see what would bring me joy, and lighten my spirit.
What could I do to dwell in my joy space?
Last week it was partly connecting with dear friends, reading inspiring books, journaling and seeking guidance. And I decided to go for a hike on Sunday to an area park called Thacher Park with steep cliffs and a view over most of the surrounding valley.
It is truly a spectacular place, and it was a beautiful sunny day. The hiking trails were full of families, couples, teenagers, and there were plenty of dogs and puppies out walking with their families as well.
I got to pet some adorable sweet furry little puppies, chat with some young kids, and catch up with a few friends who also just happened to be out hiking the trails.
I hiked down the steep stairs at the beginning of the Indian Ladder trail, underneath the waterfalls that cross the trail twice, including one area that still had huge hunks of snow and ice that hadn’t melted fully yet!
I watched hawks swoop over the woods below, and sat and listened to the sounds of the waterfall.
I stopped a few times to journal, and spent some time meditating by a shallow creek along the path.
The water was shining in the sun, light dancing on the water as it trickled over the rocks in a light and steady flow. I sat down and meditated first, then opened the pages of my journal to see what inspiration would strike.
Be Happy Now
The main message I kept getting was to be happy now. Ironically as soon as I vowed to practice unconditional love for myself last week, all my old voices of unworthiness popped up again.
It’s just an old soundtrack, nothing new. I know this. I am practicing just acknowledging it and then being in my joy space again.
When I think back on all the dreams I have lived so far in this lifetime, including traveling extensively on four continents, it’s clear that joy and my love of people and of exploring the world helped me to create adventures beyond my wildest dreams.
I feel sure that joy will continue to guide me on the path, and help me to manifest all of my dreams.
What Brings You the Most Joy?
Are you feeling joy regularly in your life, and tuning into it? Are you acknowledging and practicing gratitude for the little joys?
The more we do this, I find, the more joy we receive!
I love those times in my life when I simply become an overflowing fountain of joy, with so much love within me that I cannot contain it. It has to spill out and touch those around me!
I really believe that joy can be a wonderful measure of success. If you are living a life filled with great joy, congratulations! You are doing a great job of simply living!
I hope that my life will continue to help others find ways to tune into their joy. When our days are filled with joy, achieving our dreams almost becomes a by-product of this.
Let us know what you plan to do this week to increase the sense of joy in your days and your life. And how will you celebrate and acknowledge this?
Wishing you infinite joy on your journey!
Lisa P. Graham is an inspirational writer, life coach, TED motivational speaker, and globe-trotter whose passion is to help others to find happiness and meaning in their daily lives. A political activist at heart, Lisa would like to empower more women to run for political office as a way to create positive change in the world. You can find her on her website or watch her TEDx speech on YouTube.
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