Friday, February 10, 2012

Promises Promises

It has been more than 40 years since I  made a promise to bring more joy into the world. What was I thinking?

Making the promise was easy, made at a time when there was so much sadness. It seemed it would take so little to create a happier place. It began with just wearing a smile, sharing it with everyone I met. I looked for ways to be kind to others, ensuring the children I babysat had reason to laugh, assisting the elderly in the community in whatever ways I could. My motto was "If I can make even one person smile today, who would not have another reason to smile, or if I can create more ease in the life of another today, then I have done well." As the years went by, I looked for many more ways to inspire happiness in others. Whether I was skating, working, gardening, cooking, or just being a friend, my thoughts were on bringing joy and laughter into the world. Now, I am not a Saint. I wanted this as much or maybe even more for myself as for the people around me.
In the midst of this game of creating joy, I began to notice a restless sense of not being enough. It seemed no matter how hard I tried, people around me could not sustain the moments of joy. Even I could not be happy everyday in every moment. Whenever a shadow cast, I blamed myself. I found I was angry, lashing out at others, but inside I was hurt, feeling let down by my inability to keep the promise I made. Where was the help I expected to be there? Why was I doing this alone? What was the point in being happy in a world where others seemed more inspired by bad news and the latest cruel gossip?

I began to ask questions. "What am I doing wrong?" "Why does there have to be so much pain in the world?" "Am I being selfish asking for happiness?" "What is wrong with me?" "Am I kidding myself about life and the way it is supposed to be?" "Why is everyone around me is looking for so much more than just the simplicity of joy?" "Am I missing something?"

So I began a journey of looking for what everyone else seemed to be seeking - money, security, relationships, health, expensive clothes, better furniture, recreational toys, and more stuff..... It seemed this was the road to freedom and bliss according to friends, family and marketing ads.

Well, once again - What Was I Thinking? It seemed like fun for a while but the emptiness and continual grasping began to take a toll on my energy. My vitality, motivation and inspiration dwindled to zero. The greatest loss in this time of seeking was my health and relationships. Neither seemed sustainable in the midst of becoming better, faster, smarter, prettier, richer.....

So back to the drawing board and to the promise made so many years before. "Where do I find the happiness I seek?" "What is happiness?" "If found, how does one maintain a state of joy?"

The answer came in seeking peace. Once I decided that my expectations were too high, I settled for finding contentment. It seemed that even peace was too much to ask. Drama plays a big part in keeping so many motivated and inspired. But I was done with drama, so what did that leave me? It left me accepting that sadness is an expression of life, as is anger, guilt, self-pity, along with wonder, awe, and surprise.

In seeking peace, I began to notice that I was not being peaceful, just as I had not been happy in seeking joy. At this point I literally gave up. What is the point in any of this? Why are we put on this planet? Who created this game anyway?

I made a decision to just do what was before me to do, accept whatever came my way, and do the best I could with what I had. I stopped searching. My motto became "Show me what You would have me do today."

Once I stopped searching for joy and peace and simply put my life in the Hands of a Higher Power, I began to notice something within myself. It was a sense of acceptance which became a sense of peace, which then moved to a place of love and a sense of humor. I began to see the joy in little things - sunrises and sunsets, rainbows and the moon, rain, snow and sunshine, children and grandparents. Gratitude for all experiences provided the security I sought, my health improved and once again I was inspired to keep my promise.

Life will throw curves your way. There will always be bills to pay, but when you see them as an energy exchange for the blessings you receive, they too bring joy. Loved ones will die, but you will find peace in knowing they are safe and watching over you. Illness will become a way of learning more about yourself and those around you. Arguments will happen, to remind you of your own unique way of thinking and being in the world - no one is at fault. You will leave relationships, but in love, not anger. There will be occasional disappointments encouraging you to look deeper for the blessings.

When you choose to be the peace you seek, and the joy that is missing in life, everything around you has a reason. When judgments cease and acceptance fills the void, you realize there is no right or wrong - it all just is. The rest is a choice you make, either for joy or sorrow, peace or conflict.

Thank you to all who have been the inspiration I need when my own cup is running empty. Thank you to all who bring a smile into the world along with me - the world needs more of us. I am grateful to each person who came into my life, especially those caught up in the drama years, for what I learned from you has given me compassion and understanding. I apologize for the confusion I created as I sought to make the world a happy place. In gratitude I now know, I cannot make anything outside of myself. I cannot make anyone happy who is not already in a place of peace.

We each must make our own choices. I respect you for your decisions. As for me, I am content to be a believer of good, joy, peace and love, grateful to be asking the right questions and making the right mistakes. I am grateful for a simpler life and the people in my life who share in inspiring joy, peace and love.


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