Monday, June 25, 2018

Living an Exuberant Life

I attended stress management class at work last week and was listening to all the stuff I've heard before about self-care.  Eat right, drink water, sleep, exercise, meditate, be grateful...  It was a good presentation, but it was not lost on me that spending an hour of work time talking about stress management was only taking time away from work that needed to be done -- thereby stressing me out more.  

The presenter, however, made one statement that immediately perked up my ears.  "Live an Exuberant Life."  It was like receiving a hug from a long-lost friend.  I think it may have affected me so much because I had recently tried out a dating app, and so many profiles made comments about how you needed to have a valid passport and ability to go on a trip at a moment's notice.  I often "swiped left" (said no) to those profiles.  I have a passport but I need to give work a head's up that I'm taking off, and I have to have vacation time built up.  I'm not (yet) independently wealthy and able to book a last minute weekend trip to the Bahamas just 'cuz I feel like it.   In retrospect, I'm sure none of those guys were either.  However, it got me thinking about happiness and how travel seems to make people so happy.  Are their lives better because they've had the time and money to travel all over the world?  Possibly.  But is my life NOT better because I haven't?  No.  I've been to Mexico and Canada.  And Hawaii.  All cool trips, but it wasn't the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, which I am told is life changing, although I'm not sure why.  (That's actually a trip I want to take someday, so I'm not poo-poo'ing it either.) 

What does exuberant mean?  "Joyously unrestrained and enthusiastic."  (View HERE.)  You can read some recent blogs that have, hopefully, taken on a more joyous and positive tone.  One about feeling fortunate (HERE) and my Year of Joy (HERE). 

Recently, I watched a Ted Talk that a friend had sent weeks ago but I hadn't made time to watch.  It is called: "Where Joy Hides and How to Find it."  (View it HERE.)  And it just tied into feeling like I DO have an exuberant life.  I find joy in so many simple things (which doesn't mean I can't also enjoy the big, amazing things).  Walking around the block with toddlers as they ride their bikes and find interesting rocks to collect brings me joy.  Sitting at my pool alone, or with a friend, brings me joy.  Simply seeing a ladybug (a very special symbol to me) brings me joy.  The sun on my face.  The sound of the ocean.  Hearing the babies laugh.  Listening to my three and a half year old princess niece tell me I'm not doing a burpee right.  My love smiling at me and kissing me on the forehead.  All of these things bring me joy.  None of them cost any money.  It doesn't mean that I can't also enjoy going to the Maldives someday, or buying a ridiculously expensive car that I don't need.  But it does mean that I find the happy place in my life as often as possible. 

And I believe that since I DO find joy in so many simple things, it does allow me to lead an exuberant life.  We have two choices in how we deal with what life throws at us.  We can approach it from a positive standpoint or a negative one.  When I look back at old posts from when I was working in San Francisco, I feel like I wasn't even the same person.  I was in a commute and job I hated and a relationship I didn't want to be in anymore.  I was vomiting my unhappiness all over Facebook.  I was also reading old journals recently to help me write my book.  I found that I mostly wrote down the bad things (I think it was so I could "get it out and let it go").  But now if anyone finds those journals, they're just going to think I had nothing good going on in my life (although there will be large chunks of time where I just didn't write anything because things WERE good, and I hadn't yet switched to writing from a place of gratitude instead of a place of lack).  And, also, going through those journals in the present day only brought me a lot of sadness.  I kind of feel the need to destroy them.  I now journal about the good things.  The things for which I am grateful.  The things that bring me joy.  Sure, sometimes my frustrations come out, but I approach my journal writings from a completely different place now. 

Last weekend, I paid to do a photo op with Jeffrey Dean Morgan.  It's a lot of money for literally 22 seconds of a celebrity's time.  The event coordinators make it a cattle call and you're barely allowed to say hi before you're shoved off for the next person to step up.  I did it anyway.  I don't know why.  I am no one to that guy but another rabid fan who clearly has too much money and time on their hands.  But he just seems like a genuinely nice guy.  And he makes everyone who steps up there feel special.  And it brought me joy.  So I did it.  So that made it worth it. 

So, I am here to encourage you to live an exuberant life.  Find joy in the small things.  Yes, life happens.  Stress.  Tragedy.  But if you live with your glass full, it will allow you to recover faster when it is time to deal with whatever is thrown at you.  I love the messages I receive in response to these posts.  Either comment below or send me a message to tell me about the things that bring you joy. 

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