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Tickling Joy

14 Dec

Today as I was returning to my car at the supermarket after shopping, there was an elderly gentleman pushing a cart in front of me. As soon as we got across the walkway, he gave his cart a big push and hopped onto the back to ride it to his car. It was delightful and enchanting to see him with a big smile on his face, riding his cart as though he were a young boy enjoying himself. I was so amused I laughed out loud and wondered when the last time was that I enjoyed myself so thoroughly. Sure I have fun with my friends, and I do things I enjoy, but I could not remember the last time I really tickled my joy in such a free and uninhibited way. Just like everyone else, I have responsibilities to take care of, and they have a way of taking over. Seeing that man riding the grocery cart made me want more joy in my life. I want more feelings of pure enjoyment – just like he had. Our lives flash by in an instant. The years go round so fast, and before we know it they are gone. If we don’t grab hold and create the joyful moments when we can, the chance flies by. But if we are aware, we can find those moments and make the most of them.

Tickling joy takes a little thought. There are countless opportunities for us to open up and see things from a different perspective. When it’s raining outside we can bemoan the slow traffic, and the mud on our shoes, or we can watch it fall on the leaves feeding the trees, and imagine the flowers drinking it in greedily. We can smile remembering when we used to play in the rain, and how much fun it was to splash in the puddles. When we have a lot to get done and feel pressed for time we can get stressed and worry that we won’t finish, or we could make it a contest to see how much we can get done and promise ourselves a special treat if we accomplish half of the things on our list. And then when we get half of them done, we can take a little break to enjoy that treat. We can turn a chore into fun just by thinking about it a little differently. It’s all a matter of perspective. If we open our thoughts up to different ways of seeing things, we can bring more joy into our lives.

Sharing joy with others is a precious gift. Many of us are overwhelmed and feel unappreciated. If we took just a moment to smile at someone else, and share something we enjoy with them, their spirits could be lifted and they may feel more joy. We can be the gift that turns someone else’s day around. We can be the one bright spot that tickles them. All we have to do is share ourselves and some happy thought. It doesn’t take much but it can mean a great deal to those receiving it. We all impact those around us every day. It’s up to us to make sure the impact we make is positive, joyful, and happy. Of course, we’ll have down days when things go wrong, and we don’t feel our best, but even in those times, we can share a smile. Tickling joy and making it shine is a small thing but the rewards are great.

Today remember there is joy all around you. You can create it in any situation you face. Make the best of your day and bring light into it at every turn. Share that light with those around you. You have so much to give. It’s fun to laugh, it’s wonderful to feel happy, and no matter what happens today, you can find joy. When you find it, share it with those around you. Be the one who brings the light. You already have it inside you. You really are amazing.

Take Heart

25 May

It’s a wonderful thing to fall in love with someone. We become aware of another person in ways we may never have dreamed possible. We think about them constantly, wonder what they’re doing when they’re not with us, hope to see them soon, and start to make plans. Our heart jumps when we hear their voice, and when they smile at us, the whole world seems to stop. We are consumed with thoughts of them. We can’t imagine being without them. We adore them, they delight us, and make us so happy. We’ve never been so happy.

But sometimes, something goes wrong. They turn, and decide they want to go another way – without us. They leave, and we are left broken, and bereft. We are devastated, stunned, sad, in disbelief. We feel hopeless. How can we go on? We love them so much. We need them. How is it possible they don’t feel the same about us? It’s horrible. We feel horrible, and for a time we don’t believe we’ll ever be right again.

I have a close friend who went through this some time ago. The woman he loved was everything to him. He talked about her constantly, and told me of his plans for the future with her. He loved her deeply, and couldn’t imagine ever being without her. But she decided she wanted something different, and she left. He was devastated. I sat with him as he cried. He said he didn’t think he could survive without her. He just didn’t see an end to the pain.

When we are in times of great despair it seems as though they are permanent. We think nothing will ever change, and we’ll never be happy again. But the only thing permanent is death. Everything else changes. It’s the nature of life. Even if it feels like the end for us, it’s just a passage. As I sat with my grieving friend, and listened to his sobs, I reminded him of this. Although he felt completely ruined, he was just going through a difficult passage. It wasn’t the end of the road. It was a change. A very painful, gripping, sad change, but still just a change. I told him he would navigate it, and he would survive. At the time he didn’t believe me, but time has gone by, and he has survived, and moved on. He is happy again.

When we are brokenhearted – truly brokenhearted, it can feel like our lives are over. It can be hard to breathe, much less see a future where happiness will ever be a part of our lives again. When we feel so horrible, we may be surprised that life goes on, the sun still comes up, and time still goes by. How can the world continue it’s relentless march when we are frozen in pain? It’s hard to see around the corner. It’s hard to face the days. Everything is hard. But it’s not permanent. The pain will ease. Things will get better. Happiness will return.

Today, if you are brokenhearted try to remember that. This isn’t the end for you. This is just a passage. You will get through it. You will survive, and you will be happy again. Take it moment by moment, and hold on. You will get stronger.  You’re still here. The road is still before you. There is hope, and happiness ahead. Have faith. All is not lost. All is not lost.

Above the Clouds

30 Apr

One time while traveling, the city I was leaving was having horrible weather. The sky was black and dense with clouds, and it was pouring rain. The air felt heavy and oppressive. It was dark and threatening. After I boarded the plane and we were underway, we bounced through some bumpy patches, and then suddenly we were above the storm, and the sun was beaming through the windows. It was gorgeous. I looked out my window and could see the dark, black storm below us. It was amazing to look down and see what we had left behind as we sailed along ablaze in the rays of the brilliant sun. There was such a difference from where we were, to where we had gone. It was bright up there, the sky was clear and blue, and we could see for miles. Not at all like the heavy, closed in space under the storm where we had begun the journey.

Our experiences can be like that. We may be having cloudy, stormy days, everything going wrong, tension in the air, we can get confused because of the darkness, and we can’t see ahead. We feel oppressed, and the constant thrumming of the stress weighs on us. We don’t know how long the storm will last before it finally plays out. We find ourselves wishing it would just stop now. Just clear up so we can move on.

It can be difficult, but we need to keep our perspective in times like these. Yes, there are clouds, yes it’s dark and threatening, maybe our lives are not where we want them to be, maybe our decisions haven’t worked out the way we planned, maybe people are upset, and we may feel lost. It’s easy to forget that there is sunshine just above the storm. It’s up there, beaming brightly. It’s always there. It never leaves, and it never fades. It’s just slightly out of reach right now, but if we hold steady, we can ride this out, and get to the clear skies again. No storm lasts forever. Eventually it plays out, and ends.

If you’re going through something difficult, if it feels bad there in the clouds, if it’s dark, if the thunder is threatening, if the rain feels like it will never stop, take heart, it will end. It can’t last forever. It will stop in time. Soon light will shine through, and you’ll be basking in the warmth of the sun’s rays. Everything will settle. You’ll be able to see clearly again, and all the darkness will lift. Keep your eyes on that. Remember that. The sun is always shining above the clouds no matter how dense and heavy the storm is today. The sun is always there. It’s there for you. This storm will pass. Just hold on a little longer. Better days are ahead.

Do you feel that?

21 Apr

There are currently over seven billion people in the world. Seven billion – that’s an enormous number. It’s hard to grasp a number that big but that’s where we are. Over seven billion of us sharing time and space on one planet. It’s impossible to see all the people, meet them all, get to know them, and learn about them. There are just too many of us and the world is very big. If you started traveling today, and traveled every single day of your life from here forward, you could still never get to every place there is to go.

Our lives encircle a very small percentage of the world population. We have friends, and family, work associates, professional contacts, and the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. And even with our smaller group it’s sometimes hard to realize that we are all connected in some way. The human race is an amazing thing. So many differences, yet so many similarities. We all need food, shelter, air, companionship, and generally we all want love, support, kindness, and caring. There really isn’t that much difference between us despite the geographic boundaries and cultural norms.

I began to realize how much more connected we are than I had thought some time ago when an acquaintance died unexpectedly. I didn’t know him that well, but I found myself grieving and sad. My friends who were close to him were heartbroken, and that made me feel even sadder. I wanted to comfort them, I wanted to comfort his family whom I had never met, and I wanted to help them all. I really didn’t know these people, and I wondered at my concern for them. Why do we have this empathy, this ability to share one another’s feelings? As I thought about it, I remembered other times in my life when people had been sad, or happy, joyous or desperate, and I realized that during those times I, too, felt those emotions with them. Why would I feel so much for situations in which I was not involved? Because the people around me, these other human beings, are part of me. In essence, we’re all really part of the same family.

Think about your life. Haven’t there been times when you were going through something difficult, and a stranger said something to cheer you up? Do you remember times when you saw someone else struggling, someone you didn’t know, and felt like you wanted to help? What about all of those examples of families, towns, churches, and cities that have gone through terrible disasters, and people from all over the country came to their aide. It happens all the time. Why do we do this? We don’t know those people? Why do we care?

We care because our connections to one another are far deeper than we realize. There is a constancy between us all, like a silent, ongoing hum that never leaves us, that is always there, that we don’t hear, but continually feel. That’s how we are as people. We are connected. We laugh when others laugh, we cry when others cry, we rejoice when others rejoice, and we grieve when others grieve. It was meant to be this way. It’s the way it has to be. We need each other. We need to know that we matter, and we need to let others know that they matter too.

Today as you go about your details, your busy life, your responsibilities, your errands, your commitments, and everything else you have to do, think about your connection to those around you. Listen for that familiar hum – that silent link that never leaves you. Listen. You’ll hear it, not with your ears, but with your heart. And if you see someone laughing, join them. If you see someone crying, comfort them. Everyone around you is your brother and sister. Keep your family strong. They need you and you need them. Today make it a point to remember that.