Acceptance: The Key to Living a Joyful Life
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” — Dr. Seuss
I woke up this morning, put on “The Today Show” and heard the story of a woman, named, Susan Spencer-Wendel who became paralyzed from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. She typed her memoir about the beauty of living, letter by letter on her iPhone, using just her right thumb; all of her other fingers had stopped working by then. She knows she is dying and had decided to spend one of her last years doing the things on her to-do-list, including writing a book. “I am writing about accepting, about living with joy and dying with joy and laughing a helluva lot in the process.”
So what’s on your bucket list, your to-do-list before you die? Why do we wait until we are dying to do the things we really long to do? Why do we get so caught up in our everyday stuff that we forget what our real purpose is?
I think the first step in all of our life situations is acceptance. This is the beauty I found in that woman’s story, the part that gives us hope and makes us smile. Acceptance deepens the union between mind and body, because we are not fighting, we are relaxing into it, going with the ebb and flow of our lives. Acceptance in our yoga practice, means accepting where we are, and relaxing into it, creating more space and openness in our body. When we are in acceptance, we are telling the universe, god, our higher self, that we trust and have faith that we are here for a reason. It is part of our evolutionary growth.
So why do we wait until something happens, for us to make the necessary changes to live our lives to our fullest potential? I often ask myself the question, what am I waiting for? It’s as if every challenging experiencewe have leaves some kind of residue, a story for our suitcases. I think the key is to let go of our baggage and metaphorically empty our suitcases and feel the lightness of being. Stop allowing your past mistakes or experiences to dictate the present.
In the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” Jim Carrey wants to have his painful memories of a relationship cleared from his mind, but they go too far and remove all the beautiful memories of his life. We need to have our memories and experiences and feel happy and grateful for them. They were given to us as gifts to help us become better versions of ourselves, not to ruminate over and affect our present. It is the story that we carry around that causes more damage than the actual event.
Why do we get caught up in our everyday stuff and forget what our real purpose is?
From my own experience and the experiences of the thousands of wonderful clients I have seen over the years, it is easier to focus on everything else, creating dramas, then to have to focus on the common denominator in all those situations, you.
Years ago, I was seeing a client every two weeks and after about six months I couldn’t stop the words from flowing out of me, and I said, “You don’t have an eating disorder, you have a shitty marriage.” I am sorry for my choice of words but it was a wake up call for her. As much as I enjoyed our sessions, I had to be honest with her, so she could be honest with herself. It is important to focus on your purpose in life, and oftentimes you will find it in what you feel passionate about, the things that you want to dive into head first? For me, it’s a vegan chocolate cake. But really, what is it that makes you feel alive and makes the time fly by because you are so engaged, (and I don’t mean television or the internet).
What comes naturally to you? What gifts have you been given? We can contribute while spending our days doing what we love, not doing what we automatically feel we have to. This is the difference between making a living and making a life. You will bring more to your relationships if you are busy doing what you love, having less time to think, or over think, things in your life. Don’t wait until it’s too late, having to look back on your life wishing you had done what you really wanted, but let fear get in the way. Wayne Dyer once said, “You don’t want to die with your music still in you.”
Let go of all your doubts, fears and perceived mistakes from your past. End the negative self-talk and find the freedom in your everyday existence. Even the extra weight you are carrying around on your body will dissolve away a lot faster, once you let go of your baggage.
That woman’s inspiring story has reminded me to be grateful for having the ability to get dressed in the morning, do yoga, create and eat healthy food and to be in love with life!
How to Weather an Existential Crisis
There comes a time in the lives of many when there is a pause to reflect on the meaning of life. When this moment of Zen turns out to be especially troubling, puzzling, or even discombobulating, we have a name for it — an existential crisis. The symptoms of an existential crisis range from mild wonderment to turning your world on its head and it can feel much more extreme than a prolonged state of confusion or mental health issue.
There are numerous introductions into the potential rabbit hole of an existential crisis, but all of them usually begin with the question “Why am I here?” or “What is the meaning of life?” If you’re going through this, you aren’t alone.
Philosophers have contemplated the purpose of existence and existential anxiety all the way back through our collective past. Socrates had a prescription: “Know thyself.” The Indian sage Ramana Maharshi suggested asking, “Who am I?”
Why do we humans get caught up in this search for meaning, and why do we fear a meaningless life? Better yet, is there any meaning at all? Some people suggest there is a purpose to life that is bound to a sense of well-being, but the masters of enlightenment have long said that we are looking in the wrong direction — outward instead of inward.
Joseph Campbell taught that it’s better to stop searching for the meaning of life and to begin looking for the meaning in life. In other words, life deals us a certain hand of cards, and we need to find what makes us passionate about them. Campbell summed this up in three immortal words: “Follow your bliss” — and the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said, “Don’t forget to love yourself.”