I’m broke, single, and living without job security, yet today, I’m the happiest I’ve been in years.
Firstly, it’s important to point out that my typical measures of success—on the path to experiencing happiness—are the same as they were six months ago. My outer life is the same.
Maybe a few of the names and details have changed, but the overriding story is almost identical—broke, single, over 30, no kids, doing work I enjoy, but without job security, health care, or a regular paycheck.
Yes, I know that happiness comes from within. But, why do I still strive to create happiness by “getting my life together?” Why am I pursuing a respectable savings account, a relationship, children, and job security?
Intellectually, I know these things won’t make me happy. Yet, for some reason, I still strive for them. They are my life goals. Why? Is it because deep down I really do believe they will bring me happiness? Am I that primitive?
Well, apparently it doesn’t matter what my life looks like on the outside. Because now, even though it is the same, I feel completely different.
This happiness that I am feeling is coming from deep within my heart. It is an excited and joyful feeling, one that seems to be there for no specific reason, yet it is growing within me, little by little, occupying more and more of my life. This is pretty exciting, especially because for much of my life I’ve felt apathetic and depressed. To feel an inspired emotion, a love of life flowing effortlessly through me, is special.
Certainly, it is not the individual tales that are inspiring this welcomed emotional state. And, I’m pretty sure it’s not the ratio of failures to successes that is stirring this within. So what is it?
Well, I’ve discovered a secret recipe, here it is:
One part feeling raw emotions, unattached
One part new perception of time and events
Two parts surrender
Four parts trust
One part choosing to feel and embody love and enjoyment
Mix all ingredients with a daily dose of meditation, immerse yourself in the challenges of life. Pure love and enjoyment bubble up and life tastes oh-so-sweet.
I learned that I cannot hide from my emotions. If I want to feel the good, I also have to feel the bad. My approach was to shut down and feel nothing at all. You might say, “Well duh! How can you ever feel happy if you don’t feel at all?” But, for a long time that wasn’t clear to me. For me, re-learning to feel has proven to be priceless. And luckily, emotional states pass. So while I have many ups and downs, as long as I am not attached to the outcome, I am in a state of underlying peace.
I used to stress a lot about time and the tasks on my to-do list. I was on the do more, do more, do more program. I think I might still be on this, but lately, I have been able to tone it down, slow down, and feel into what I am doing.
As a freelancer, who typically deals with feast or famine project work cycles, I was always worrying about my productivity and stressing about having too much work—or not enough.
My fix? Drop the clutter. Now my approach is to be fully present in whatever I am doing, whether it is work or play. If I have no work, I am learning to enjoy how I choose to spend my time. I’m not worrying about getting more work. Or If I have work, I tap into an inspired space and go from there. I also don’t let my attention flutter to daydreams of how the man of my dreams and I will finally get together.
A new perception of time and events is not possible without a bit of surrender. Inspired by Michael Singer‘s The Surrender Experiment, I realized my current life situation was also an experiment. So why not decide to be fully in my life and surrender to it?
I realize that I have no choice in this. If I don’t surrender, I waste my energy fighting the reality of things. I argue that things should have turned out the way I envisioned and I endlessly debate how I can get them back on track. But none of this arguing and debating matter. If I cut the resistance, I free up loads of energy.
When you stop resisting what is, you have surrendered. This is the magic that creates space and makes enjoyment possible. For me, this has been a process—I am stubborn. But, by learning to trust, surrendering has made my new joyful state possible.
Learning to trust in the intelligence of life creates the opportunity for a shift in your baseline emotional state. In choosing to trust I am learning that where I am in life is okay and that the events I am experiencing are okay. This has been important for me.
Shifting my awareness to understand the secrets that life reveals to me, to move me forward on my path, has given my life clarity and direction. It has also opened me up to newfound beauty, friendships, forgiveness, and an openness to life. These are key to a state of peaceful vibrancy.
The final secret ingredient for me, has been to practice emotional choice—kind of like choosing which seeds to plant in your garden. I recently learned how I am capable of feeling all of the feelings in the world. At any one moment, I can tap into a feeling, an emotion.
Typically, we live our lives letting our life situations inspire our feelings. I lost my job—I’m so angry. I got a new car—I’m happy. My best friend cheated on me—I hate him.
But, you don’t have to be ruled by those emotions. Instead, you can build a new reality from the inside out, with carefully chosen feelings. After practicing this in meditation, it is these feelings that begin to color your everyday life.
For example, I wanted to feel more love, joy, and happiness in my life. So I learned how to, in meditation, invite these feelings into my heart and let myself fully feel them. Then, even if they were only a small seed, I could encourage them to expand and naturally let them grow.
As I practice this, they have started to take hold of more of my inner reality. At first, I only felt the feelings during my meditations. Now, they are taking up more of my everyday life! If you try it, you will know exactly what I mean.
So there it is.
It may sound a little airy-fairy and new age-y. But, the thing is, there is no denying it within me. I feel the love and joy bubbling up inside. It enlivens me and inspires me to continue to listen even more closely to the whispers of life. For me, it is love and joy itself that is revealing itself to me through the everyday experiences of my life.
As a result of this writing, I have started to better understand what helps me experience a joyful life. And I’m sure my recipe will evolve and change as I grow. But more importantly, have you thought about this for yourself?
What is your recipe? Have you stopped to think about how it is not the details, events, or individual experiences that bring joy to your life? Isn’t it the quality of feelings that you open yourself up to, while experiencing life, that brings you joy?
What seeds are you growing in your garden?
Author: Neomi Mustain
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Supervising editor: Sara Kärpänen