Saturday, March 26, 2011

March 26: Sustaining Joy

I am cranky tonight and I have a raging headache.  Nothing especially awful happened today.  In fact, I was able to paint a little, work on my book a little, read a ton... all in all it should have been a wonderful, relaxing, delicious day.  So what is this mood all about?  Just the other day I'd had an amazing meditation.  Toward the end of it I focused on all the really joyful moments in my life, just ran though one after another in my mind and it was as if I could feel that joy, that contentment, as if I was in those moments.
     I thought of a birthday of mine years ago, where my family loaded up in the van and we were driving through downtown at dusk to go over to the island to go bowling.  I remember that everyone was getting along, and the kids were excited, and I felt love as I watched the way the setting sun came through the window and colored everything gold.  I thought of the night before my first day of school at SVU, how I sat in the windowsill of my room, looking down the hill at the lights in the city, astonished that after all the months of planning and filling out papers, and figuring out money, I was finally there.  I thought of the beach house, how it smelled and how the floor was smooth and sandy beneath my feet, and the fans blew the saltiness around, and the moonlight came through our window and we could hear the waves.  I thought of my trip to England, how I'd walked the streets of Bath alone and threw coins into fountains and ate croissants and oranges under humongous trees in the park.
     It was the sweetest feeling I'd ever felt, filling me and overflowing my heart with gratitude for the wonderful moments and people in my life.  But I knew that feeling would fade as I went about the tasks of the day.  I knew that inevitably, I'd get angry at someone, I'd get annoyed with someone, I'd stub my toe, or lose something, or fail at something.  So how can we not let those setbacks derail our happiness?  How can we sustain our joy?
     Well, like any dork, I looked it up online.  And here's some steps that I found to sustaining happiness:  1.) choose it ("people are as happy as they makeup their minds to be")  2.) focus on the moment (instead of agonizing over the past or worrying about the future)  3.) enrich your relationships (with gratitude, honesty, and love)  4.) let go (don't try to judge, control, criticize, or blame others- this will only bring frustration)  5.) be compassionate toward yourself (a lot of our frustration comes from focusing on our own flaws and failures)
     This may take some work...

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