Limitlessness, Joy and the Pursuit of Happiness

“Thoughts,” my friend said, “are just thoughts. Our innate state is joy.”

According to my wise friend, we don’t return to that state of joy – we always have it. Only sometimes we forget because all those thoughts fill the space between us and that state of bliss from whence we come.

I like it. It contradicts the US Constitution, which guarantees our right to the pursuit of happiness. If we already have joy within us, why would we look elsewhere to find it?

When the world seems to be crashing upon our heads, it is sort of hard to remember these things. But it is those very hurdles that keep us alert to all that we have. Gratitude and sadness cannot occupy the same room. But joy and gratitude can.

Another friend recently told me he welcomes challenges because they help him remain mindful of what is truly important in life. If we were never challenged, we would grow soft, perhaps even arrogant and certainly unsympathetic to those who suffer around us. Without some measure of discomfort, we would become distant from the rest of the world, living in an Ivory Tower without a grasp on the deeper realities before us.

Empathy comes from our own experience with suffering. We would not know how another feels if we had never had those very feelings ourselves. Each of us handles pain differently. Some have a low threshold of tolerance; others have an enormous capacity to manage it. But as my sister recently said to me, it is not what happens in life that matters. It is how you deal with it.

Our limits are of our own making. We are truly limitless creatures with a mind that bridles us. Thoughts can keep us back from our truest nature. Or they can bring us back to where we are meant to be.

Our most authentic state of being is joy. Remembering that will ensure we see what we have sought all along.


Forgetting the “How” for Now

Trust. That five-letter word, like apple or sleep, that we often forget to bring into our lives. We measure. We calculate. We consider the options. Miles away from our hearts, we think, analyze and separate ourselves from the core of what life is about.

Many of us have dreams. In fact, we are born with them. Sometimes they grow. Sometimes they die. But dreams are a part of us like the skin that covers our souls. And when we forget to take care of them, they grow fallow in the center of our being.

Trusting in that which we desire can often go missing as we replace those dreams with compromise. We grow up thinking we will never reach them — not because we can’t — but because we don’t know how.

Perhaps you had a great idea that you wanted to realize, only to stop before you even started because you did not know where to begin. Doubt settles in and you start to give reasons as to why you can’t do this or that. Pretty soon you fret about that lost dream, but soon stuff it down inside you alongside the pile of other unfulfilled promises you made to yourself.

Life grows shallow, hollow and cold. And you keep trying to remember what you cared about at all.

If “how” is your stumbling block, go back to that place where Trust resides. It may be a tiny flame that needs a little oxygen to grow back to the roaring fire you once knew.

Never mind trying to figure out the way to those dreams. Define them for yourself. Then believe that you can do it.

If you believe, you will attract the right circumstances to go far beyond what you thought was possible. People will show up to help you along that path. And who knows? Perhaps realizing your dreams will help others realize theirs as well.

For if you can dream it, you can live it too.

Trust me on this one.

When Lemons Turn to Lemonade

Triggers. Those lovely little emotional downers that send us swirling down the drain to what may feel like a bottomless pit. They are the lemons in our lives that remind us of our own humanity. Triggers are handles on our own personal garbage. And they keep us locked down until we release the baggage that weighs so heavily upon us.

We have all experienced bad things in life – and how much time we waste dealing with that broken record in our minds! He says this. Which really means I am this. Or she does such and such. Which means she thinks this or that. We make meaning where there is none. My belief is there is a very different meaning lurking underneath all that noise, if only we had the ears to listen.

In German we call it Kopfkino – or mind chatter – that buckles us into our seats. We are trapped by these thoughts, an endless cycle of whirling nonsense. And we live as if the film and its accompanying soundtrack playing in our heads were real.

In times like these, it is best to step back and take a broader view. Look at that Big Picture that tells you a different story, a greater one. Connect the dots. Step out of the box into a larger reality.

The truth is we can think whatever we like. But which thoughts truly serve us — and which ones hold us hostage by the relentless thrust of fear?

I am a big fan of turning those lemons into lemonade, a sweeter nectar than the taste left in our mouths by what we think is actually happening.

The next time you get triggered by some unrelated event, remember that what is happening now is not what happened “then”. You get to choose joy at any given moment. Perhaps in the process you will zoom out to that gorgeous mosaic that makes up your life.

It is there, if you wish to find it. Lemonade and all.