What are you hopeful for? Perhaps this week’s blog will give you some food for thought outside of the most common answer. During this month in which I’ve dedicated my weekly Joy Journals to the joy habit of hope, I am focusing on one major theme each week that begins with one of the letters in the word HOPE. Last week’s blog was on the topic of Hope for Health representing the letter “H”. I placed particular emphasis on brain health and featured a great new book I’m reading about how to reduce the risk of cognitive decline. I encourage you to read the blog, no matter your age. This week’s offering stands for the letter “O’ and will ask you to Hope for Oneness of our people and our planet as I believe our interdependence will be even more important as we take our place in a new post-pandemic world.
When you hear the word hope, how does it make you feel? Do you feel elated or do you write it off to just wishful thinking? What does hope mean to you? Take a minute to really think about it. Because the way you define hope likely translates into the way you perceive everything that is occurring in your life. You see it acts like a barometer, measuring the amount of life pressure you allow in, to either lift you up or weigh you down. But hope isn’t wishful thinking or optimism. It’s much deeper than that. It’s faith in something beyond your control. It’s trust. It’s a knowing. And to me, hope is about possibility. During this month of April in which I’ve dedicated my weekly Joy Journals to helping you cultivate the joy habit of hope, I’ll be focusing on one major theme each week that begins with one of the letters in the word HOPE. This week’s offering stands for the letter “H’ and is all about helping you to be more hopeful about your health. I know, we’re all tired of talking about COVID-19. And I promise that’s not what this blog is all about.
Do you like poetry? I do. I especially love the new spoken word genre of poetry such as the evocative piece that Amanda Gorman delivered at Joe Biden’s inauguration. Powerful! Words have such power as we’ve certainly learned over the last few years. They have the power to incite hate or to inspire love – that is, if we allow them. You see, you hold the power of how you interpret the words you hear and how you let them influence you. You are the only one who can. And as Wayne Dyer’s quote suggests, when you choose to feel good despite the circumstances that surround you, your world changes. Simply put, you attract what you are. In today’s post, I have two special treats to help elevate your happy heart. One is a poem and the other is an activity. Ready to get your happy on?
I have a really great cheesy but endearing music video to share with you today. On most nights before I turn in for the evening, I like to watch something light on TV to get out of my head and into my heart. And one of the best ways I’ve found to do that is to watch music videos. I love music. All different kinds. I also like to stay up to date with what some of the newer artists are creating. It’s been amazing how much music has been created during the pandemic. So, when I ran across this song a few months ago during the earlier days of the restrictions, I was really drawn to its simple message of “feeling blessed, never stressed”. I loved it so much that I searched for it on YouTube and saved it on my desktop along with a few others I turn to when I need a lift.
Most kids are naturally happy. They get it. They know that’s their authentic state of being. They don’t need a reason. They just go with the flow. It helps that their attention span is so short. It means they don’t hold grudges or let the past get between them and their happy heart. But we aren’t kids anymore. We have a past that likes to pop up now and again to remind us of our perceived shortcomings or about people we feel have wronged us. And of course, we have the present day anxiety and disruption of the pandemic to contend with. It’s hard to put on a happy face when you’re a grown up sometimes. So, what can you do to change your disposition? I have a great activity I’ve done with great success and another one I’m about to start. Curious?
Do you remember the Disney movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”? I think my favourite parts were of the little guys smiling as they went to work in the mines. And the song they sang “whistle while you work” left a lasting impression with me to this day. For me it was a profound message about bringing happiness to everything you do – your work, your relationships, and your life. It was about being happy first. So, it was no accident that many years later I was guided to write my book Being Joy™. In fact, I believe it was inevitable! Because this month’s blog series is dedicated to the joy habit of happiness, I promised in my newsletter Joy Matters, that this month’s posts will not come from my “head” but from my “happy heart”. I’m only going to bring you happy songs, poems, images, and fun activities all month long to remind you of your birthright – your joy.
Get ready happy reader. You’re in for a real treat today. We’re going to sing. We’re going to shout. We’re going to clap so loudly that your feet won’t be able to keep up! Figured we could all use some “happy” right about now. I’m a big Pharrell Williams fan. So when he wrote the song “Happy” for the animated film Despicable Me 2 (am also a big fan of animation) I was obsessed. I couldn’t get enough of it, the lyrics, and the way it made me feel. It simply made me HAPPY! Even today, if I happen to hear it on the radio, I stop and have to sing along, no matter where I am or what I’m doing. I also saved it on my computer so I can listen anytime I need a lift. It always makes me smile.
Have you ever had a song get stuck in your head that you just can’t stop playing over and over again in your mind? They call it an earworm or sometimes referred to as brainworm. I have one that has become a reoccurring backdrop over these past few weeks. Now I know why. You see, as I’ve been writing my blogs for this month’s joy habit of forgiveness, this song has shown up as an important message for this month’s final blog and the last step on the path to unconditional forgiveness. But before I share the lyrics to a song that you may also have been hearing lately, let me tell you about this final forgiveness step. It’s about showing your love through mercy. In a great book I read over the holidays co-authored by The Dalai Lama and Victor Chan called The Wisdom of Forgiveness, there is a story that Archbishop Desmond Tutu relayed during a dialogue he had with His Holiness at a conference in Vancouver a few years ago.
In this month’s first and second blog posts, I told two stories that demonstrate the first two important steps on the road to forgiveness -- that of acknowledgment and acceptance. Today’s offering will talk about the third vital step – letting go. So often we replay the guilt, shame, or trauma from a past experience as if somehow we can change what happened. We stay “stuck in story”. The reality is that we can’t change what happened, but we can change the meaning we give it and the hold we allow it to have in the present moment and our future self. In my good friend Matt Landsiedel’s book Be the Space, Matt says that surrender and forgiveness go hand in hand and that forgiveness is all about working with resistance. He says that: “Being stuck in a continuum of time is one sure way to suffer in this life.” He goes on to say that “Forgiveness without surrender is merely denial.” Now, I’m not suggesting that letting go is easy.
Finding the courage to accept an injustice from your past is truly a heroic gesture. In fact, after acknowledgement, the act of acceptance is the next most important step towards inner healing. Whether it is something you have inflicted upon yourself or has been perpetrated upon you by someone else, staying stuck in the past prevents you from moving forward. Take June’s story for example. The youngest child of a middle-class rural family, June used to imagine what her life would be like if she didn’t live so far away from town. She could go to parties like her older siblings and participate in after-school activities instead of having to catch the school bus home every day. One day she decided to try something different.