When I pay attention to what is working instead of what isn’t, I have a better chance of winnowing out the wheat from the chaff of seeing what’s important and what’s not in life. And in seeing that everything grows with love.
A friend recently passed away after a battle with cancer. There were a number of photos I had of her at various soiree’s and JOYFESTS and more from the last few years that I’d taken gathered in a digital album to send to her family. She’s smiling and genuinely looking happy or interested in every single one.
My friend, “H,” had this amazing impact on people because she was positive and interested in everyone and she kept up with people she knew for years and with maintaining her good outlook. She gave a lot of love and encouragement to everyone, including herself, and people enjoyed being in her presence. I liked that she made me laugh, and that she made people feel special and that she was glad to know them. One of the best things I learned from her and wanted to try to emulate was “H’s” way of looking at things that were just so – so or really “eh” and making her outlook and words about them wonderful and interesting. That’s a strength. When life gave her tough calls, she was brave in facing them head on and with optimism beyond the norm. Realistic optimism can be one of the greatest antidotes to all types of pain.
Some people have a more jovial spirit. My friend was that way it seems. I talk often in my work with Joyfestival Industries about how people sometimes need to manufacture their happy from within. I have a saying that, “Building, growing and nurturing one’s own joy is a full-time job” – and one of my, “why is this challenge important to ME,” answers is: because choosing the joyful response doesn’t always come easily for me and I, personally, have to work at it. I have to want to choose happiness and joy and remember that this choice, just like my choices to eat healthy or do self-nurturing or self-care or prayer or journaling for reflection are things I have to choose to do in my life. To water my own need for joy is to nurture it and grow it, and this will only happen (for me) in a gentle, loving way.
For “H,” it seemed to come easily to consciously nurture her own and others’ joy. Reb Zusya of Anapoli spoke about how people need to both give and receive encouragement and that it’s a form of love. You can be your own flint and spark your own joy, but if you hang around upbeat people it will help you.
Remember that when we have friends, family, mentors or others who lend support and encouragement, this is how we all learn to grow and do our best in life. When I teach writing, journaling or crafting workshops, I am in a role where I see that I’m being the giver and helping grow people to find their own outlet(s) and uncover their own talents. It’s lovely to see people dust off their dreams, discover hidden or buried talent(s), or find renewed strength and self-worth by simply doing something for themselves that they see they enjoy and relish doing.
People and organizations don’t do well with themselves or each other in the wake of being yelled at, belittled or having divisiveness within the whole. Treating ourselves this is also ineffective.
I don’t grow well when I feel unkind criticism, overt fear and doomsayer-ness. I don’t like it, but more than not liking it, my inner plant wilts and I need to remember to take my plant to a sunnier locale. For some people it seems to come a little easier and I learn from them…from “H,” from my Grandmother, from others I’m close to. They spark from within naturally.
There are surely good effects from the encouragement I receive from myself and others, but I notice if I hang around upbeat people, it will also help me keep my own light shining brighter.
Look around and see if there are people you can count on to help you pay attention to what’s already working well in your life, to winnow out the wheat from the chaff and grow yourself in the places where you feel stronger. Notice how you can grow yourself and the people and things you care about with love.
As my 98 year old Grandmother reminds me, “You don’t want to spend too much time on the negative and the guilt. Learn from it and move on.” Having good friends to support you and pray for you and nurture you, helps you grow. And to be that kind of a person for someone else is a gift for both of you.
I taught a class this past week geared towards all seniors, on Mindful Journaling for Wellness. In a reflective time during the workshop, two people mentioned that they noticed in reading over their writing that they were more focused on the external things and people in their lives than the internal and that they wanted to try to change that. And one person mentioned that she was used to focusing more on the things she didn’t do right rather than what she did do right and she wanted to try to switch that around.
When we focus on the external, there will always be what or whom to compare ourselves to. And when we spend more mind time and space on what we don’t do right rather than what we are doing right, that isn’t going to grow our inner sense of calm, love and feeling nurtured and supported.
Grow the virtues, the character traits, the good deeds, the friendships and the relationship with your inner self dialogue, that you want in your life. Feel the joy that comes from having these and growing them in your life and then, water them with buckets full of love and care. Everything grows with love. Email us and let us know your thoughts!