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.
She was only 15 when she left. No longer able to endure the abuse she was subjected to at home, she did the only thing she thought she could do in those days. After a few short months she learned she was pregnant. Scared and alone she knew she would have to finally trust someone enough to ask for help. Giving her baby up for adoption was the hardest thing she ever had to do. That was before she did the second hardest thing. For years, she drifted from one bad situation to the next. In and out of treatment centers and even a short time behind bars when her rage got the best of her. Eventually through a women’s support group she found the courage to confront the shame she had been carrying all those years. Thus began her journey towards the second hardest thing. Self-forgiveness.
I love the quote for today’s blog, which is the last in this month’s joy habit series of being in balance. In this month's first blog post, you may recall that I referenced the seven aspects that make up your life experience as suggested by the Oola approach. To recap, the 7 F’s are Faith, Family, Friend, Fun, Fitness, Finance and Field. I’ve chosen Field as my last and most important topic for life balance because we need your talents now more than ever! You see, we’re embarking upon a new time, accelerated in great part due to the pandemic. What I am witnessing is the abundance of possibility that is being created amidst the chaos of the past year. And it’s an exciting new era that will require a new mind and the collective pooling of our talents. I’ve been reading a great deal about this shift that has been predicted for some time and, like always for me, I discovered a great book on my bookshelf that I had forgotten about and had not made time to read. Spirit told me this was the time. The book is called Jump Time by Jean Houston.
To continue this month’s joy habit of being in balance in order to live a more joyful life, today’s offering will examine the attention you give to the aspect of fitness in your daily life. But it’s about more than just your physical body. Yes, physically you want your body to be fit so that you have better health, strength, and stamina as you age. Developing a good overall fitness practice that keeps your body moving and your heart pumping will not only help maintain optimal physical health, but it will also help reduce mental stress and anxiety. No surprise there. And lots of good evidence to support that fact. But I see fitness in a more holistic way. I would include nutritional fitness in the category of life balance. And I am a true example of the benefit of getting this aspect of your life in check. Here’s my story.
In last week’s blog, I referenced an interesting approach for January’s joy habit of being in balance that was created by the founders of Oola Life. I especially like their contemporary approach for segmenting the various aspects of the whole into seven distinct parts that they call Faith, Fun, Fitness, Family, Friends, Finance and Field. Even if you have used other terms to define and group the various components of your life, you can likely find a place for all your aspects in these 7 F’s. Because the use of alliteration makes these easy to remember, I prefer to use these but feel free to use whatever grouping you are accustomed to. The objective is to examine all the parts of the whole and determine which ones are in sync and which ones are out of balance. Then work towards bringing them all into alignment. When you do, you’ll experience a greater sense of peace so that you can remember the joy that you were always meant to feel.
I’ve dedicated the first month of 2021 to the joy habit of balance. For as I see it, being in balance is one of the best states that will enable you to not just survive these next few challenging months, but to actually come out stronger on the other side. Here’s why. When all the various aspects of your life are balanced, you’ll feel less stress, have better clarity, and actually will accomplish more of what’s really important in your life. On the other hand, when you’re not living in balance (and your body and soul will know it), you’ll feel overwhelmed, anxious, and remorseful about the neglect of some aspects of your life – all toxic emotions that rob you of your joy. Today’s blog will provide you with some resources to help you examine your current life and what areas you may want to work on in 2021.