Responding To An Invitation To Joy

Responding To An Invitation To Joy

She invited me this morning: ‘Come for a walk and experience the breeze’
‘Tomorrow, perhaps? I’ve got a busy schedule today.’ I responded.
Mid-morning, she asked me to go to the window and look at the rain-soaked leaves.
‘Not now. I’ve got a post to write.’
‘Spend ten minutes playing ball with Pablo?’ she gently asked me this evening.
‘Not today. I’ve got to finish this article.’
Every day she invites me and most often I turn her down.
She’s that voice in my head,
That invitation to joy
But I keep refusing –
Postponing joy!

If you ignore the little voice that keeps extending an invitation to joy, it may go silent. Listen. ~ Cheryl Richardson.

Today I listened. Ask me what I did? You may not believe me. But then I did tell you about slowing down.

I lay down this afternoon and fell fast asleep. I woke up when Jose called, spoke to him and went back to bed – to read and laze. All this while knowing I had a post (or two) to write, comments to answer and lots of little things to do around the house. There was another voice in my head, the one I’m more prone to listen to – guilt – but I told him to shut up and go get a life! 😉

I want to be nice to myself. To respond to that invitation to joy every time I hear it.  I want to live in the present moment and enjoy it.

A great example in this story.

Sharing a story from his childhood in Africa, Dr Wes Stafford,  tells of the time French Colonial officials attempted to conduct a survey in a village. They wanted to know what the expectations of the people were and what they wanted in the future. Dr Stafford writes in his book, Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most:

The chief and his tribal elders tried to explain to their exasperated visitors that they really didn’t know the answers to those kinds of questions, because the future had not yet arrived. When the time came to pass, then the results would be apparent. This, to be sure, made the officials less than pleased. And they left, in a huff.

That day, at dusk, the village gathered in the chief’s courtyard. He said, “I want to talk to the children tonight.”

“We are not like them,” the chief told the children. “To them time is everything… the smaller that men can measure the day, the more angry they seem to be.”

The chief went on. “The present is now–the days we live today. This is God’s gift to us. It is meant to be enjoyed and lived to the fullest. The present will flow by us, of course, and become the past. That is the way of a river, and that is the way of time. The Frenchmen cannot wait for the future to arrive. They crane their necks to see around the bend in the river. They cannot see it any better than we can, but they try and try. For some reason, it is very important for them to know what is coming toward them. They want to know it so badly that they have no respect for the river itself. They thrash their way into the present in order to see more around the bend.

They miss so much of the joy of today all around them. Did you notice that as they stormed into our village, they didn’t notice it is the best of the mango season?

Though we offered them peanuts, they did not even taste them.They did not hear the birds in the trees or the laughter in the marketplace. We touched them with our hands, but they did not really see us. They miss much of the present time, because all they care about is the unknowable, the future. The present is all we can fully know and experience, so we must.

We must love each other. We must smell the hibiscus flowers. We must hear the singing of the weaver birds and the grunts of the lions. We must taste with joy the honey and the peanut sauce on the rice. We must laugh and cry and live.”

What better invitation to joy can there be than the words of that village chief?

Are you responding positively to every invitation to joy you get?

In case you’re wondering about the comments from earlier, that’s because I’m republishing this post from 2014. I’ll confess that it was such a great reminder to me, that I was tempted to rework it and republish this post.

Happiness Means Starting Over #weekendcoffeeshare

Happiness Means Starting Over #weekendcoffeeshare

If we were having coffee, I’d wish you and yours a very happy and creative New Year. I’ll ask you how your year went and talk to you about the many things I didn’t achieve or complete in 2016 and  Some are personal, some blog related. Incomplete projects on this blog, almost abandoning the Write Tribe site in the last few months, missing my book reading target for the year, giving up my regular gratitude posts….just some of the ‘failures’ of 2016.  My word of the year for 2017 is ‘happy’ and happiness means starting over too.

Happiness Means Starting Over

Just yesterday, I came across a new blog – Christine Everyday – and loved her words about the New Year: “Don’t expect your life to change just because the year does. You have to make change for yourself.”
Yesterday, as I sat down to write my ‘vision for 2017’ and create my bullet journal (yes, I’m trying out a bujo this year), I realized that unlike past years, my feelings were of anticipation and not of regrets. Practicing gratitude and mindfulness have certainly helped me to go easy on myself and not beat myself up about things I didn’t achieve in the past year.

“Mindfulness, or the ability to be present with our experiences without the intrusion of so many old habits, cultivates our inner resources. And when we develop those resources we become not so defined by the things that are going on around us, and we’re more able to let go gracefully, we have a sense of grounded-ness, and I think that makes us very happy.” — Sharon Salzberg

I have many ideas for 2017, but I want to start over some unfinished projects on this blog.

1. My Happiness Project that I started in 2014 and shared here but abandoned
2. The Artist Way series that I started last year and didn’t complete
3. My #everydaygratitude posts.

I also want to create a lot more resourceful content here. I tried a few such posts last month and was happy with the response. In case you missed them, here they are:

1. 7 Ways to Find Joy at Work
2. 7 Simple Ways to Design Your Day
3. 7 Steps for Perfecting Your SEO Campaign
4. 7 Simple Everyday Habits For a Healthier Life

It does seem like I’m hung up on the #7 but believe me, it’s just a coincidence. 🙂

Be warned. You can expect a lot more posts from me this year.

Is there anything you would be starting over in 2017?

Failure means that I have an excuse to start over. #weekendcoffeeshareClick To Tweet

Motivational quote image via Shutterstock

The Original Mr Smiley and World Smile Day #WorldSmileDay

The Original Mr Smiley and World Smile Day #WorldSmileDay

World Smile Day is held on the first Friday of October every year.

Ever since the ’70s, at least as far as I remember, the smiley symbol has been associated with a smile. Just today I was look at some pictures that a colleague was showing me of a slum in our city. The ‘before’ picture showed an open drain and the ‘after’ picture had a manhole. For some reason, the manhole cover in the picture looked like a smiley – the border created a circle and the handles formed a smile. We both laughed at how appropriate it was.

Today, I thought I’d go back a little and find out more about the symbol. I found the wonderful story of Harvey Ball, the creator of the original smiley face. Harvey Ball was decorated World War II veteran, who started his own advertising agency after the war.

In 1963, he was asked by an insurance company to create a visual icon to demonstrate ‘friendliness’ to boost low employee morale.

I love this part of the story as told in Legacy.com

… hired Ball to sketch something to be used on buttons, and Ball came up with a smiley face on a bright yellow background. The original design consisted only of a grinning mouth but Ball, realizing the button could easily be inverted to send the wrong (i.e. “frowny”) message, decided to add eyeballs. The left eye was deliberately created slightly smaller than the right in order to humanize the drawing through its imperfection. The design took him less than 10 minutes to complete. He was paid $45 for his work. Neither Ball nor the insurance company bothered to copyright the creation. In an interview with the Telegram & Gazette, Harvey’s son Charles Ball said his father never regretted the missed revenue opportunity. “He was not a money-driven guy,” said Charles.

When a big supermarket chain took the symbol and started to commercialize it – it seemed to have lost its value.

Harvey-Ball-creator-of-the-smiley

Again to quote Legacy.com

Smiley has become so commercialized that its original message of spreading good will and good cheer has all but disappeared,” Harvey Ball said in 1999, announcing the formation of the World Smile Corporation. “I needed to do something to change that.” The World Smile Corporation was created to promote “World Smile Day,” held every year on the first Friday in October. The event helps raise money for the Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation, a charitable trust that supports various children’s causes. Its slogan is “Do an act of kindness – help one person smile!”

 

Today on World Smile Day, let’s remember the real message behind the smiley symbol and smile and pass it on.

 

“Do an act of kindness – help one person smile!” – Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation

 

Smiley image via Shutterstock

Happily Imperfect #MondayMusings  #1000Speak

Happily Imperfect #MondayMusings #1000Speak

In a world where botox and plastic surgery are so easily on offer, I sometimes wonder why we can’t just be the way we are.  Who tells us that we need all these things to look beautiful? Who tells us that our nose is not ‘perfect’? What is a perfect nose anyway? And does fixing our nose or other parts of our body make us feel happier about ourselves? Perhaps once our nose is ‘perfect’, we might need a matching ‘perfect’ mouth!

Living in India, it’s not uncommon for me to be asked, “How many children do you have?” and when I answer that I have none, I don’t know whether to laugh or yell when people commiserate me. Who says that having children makes every woman’s life perfect? 

I remember questions being asked when I was single until my forties. “When will give us some good news?” (a standard idiotic question in India to be interpreted as ‘when are you getting married?’ or ‘when are you having a baby?’). I’d love to respond with, “I can give you good news right now. I’m enjoying my work and am fine being single.” And they’d respond with a smirk which said”As if!” Who says that having a partner makes one’s life complete?

Happily Imperfect

But beyond all these are the times when we allow our notions of perfection to stop us from being happy.

We set goals, create bucket lists and make promises to ourselves. All that is fine. It keeps us dreaming. It keeps us focussed. Sometimes, these very things can keep us from being happy.  Why? When we fail at achieving them, or can’t keep up with our goals, we start to beat ourselves up, calling ourselves names, labelling ourselves ‘stupid’, ‘useless’ and ‘losers’.

We cannot be happy until we accept that we are imperfect. It’s as simple as that.

Happiness is a direct result of self-acceptance. Ask me, I know. And what is self-acceptance if not compassion towards oneself.

As Brené Brown says so eloquently  “….. living is about engaging with our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.’ It’s going to bed at night thinking, ‘Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”

I love this story and must share it with you today.

In the perfume shop show window was a large jar of freckle salve, and beside the jar was a sign, which read: Do you suffer from freckles? 
“What does the sign say?” ask Pippi Longstocking. She couldn’t read very well because she didn’t want to go to school as other children did.
“It says, ‘Do you suffer from freckles?'” said Annika.
“Does it indeed?” said Pippi thoughtfully. “Well, a civil question deserves a civil answer. Let’s go in.”
She opened the door and entered the shop, closely followed by Tommy and Annika. An elderly lady stood back of the counter. Pippi went right up to her. “No!” she said decidedly.
“What is it you want?” asked the lady.
“No,” said Pippi once more.
“I don’t understand what you mean,” said the lady.
“No, I don’t suffer from freckles,” said Pippi. Then the lady understood, but she took one look at Pippi and burst out, “But, my dear child, your whole face is covered with freckles!”
“I know it,” said Pippi, “but I don’t suffer from them. I love them. Good morning.”
She turned to leave, but when she got to the door she looked back and cried, “But if you should happen to get in any salve that gives people more freckles, then you can send me seven or eight jars.”
(Pippi Goes on Board (Pippi Longstocking) by Astrid Lindgren)

 

happily-imperfect

We cannot be happy until we accept that we are imperfect. It's as simple as that.Click To Tweet

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March 20 is celebrated as World Happiness Day. Find out more and download Happiness Resources from the Action For Happiness website. The #1000Speak effort for this month is looking at the connection between happiness and compassion. Check out more posts on the linky.

 

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Click on the image for Happiness Resources

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Pope Francis On Happiness

Pope Francis On Happiness

With Pope Francis’ in the US even as I write this, I thought it was only fitting to share some of his thoughts on happiness which I find relevant to every one regardless of religious beliefs.

Pope Francis visits Palo Cathedral in one of his sorties in Leyte Province Saturday, January 17, 2015. The Pope announced his shortened visit to the province due to on going typhoon in the area. He made a quick blessing to items presented to him by some of the churchgoers in the cathedral before leaving. (Photo by Benhur Arcayan/Malacanang Photo Bureau)

(Photo by Benhur Arcayan/Malacanang Photo Bureau)

 

Pope Francis on Happiness

1. “Live and let live.” Everyone should be guided by this principle, he said, which has a similar expression in Rome with the saying, “Move forward and let others do the same.”

2. “Be giving of yourself to others.” People need to be open and generous toward others, he said, because “if you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid.”

3. “Proceed calmly” in life. The pope, who used to teach high school literature, used an image from an Argentine novel by Ricardo Guiraldes, in which the protagonist — gaucho Don Segundo Sombra — looks back on how he lived his life.

4. A healthy sense of leisure. The Pope said “consumerism has brought us anxiety”, and told parents to set aside time to play with their children and turn of the TV when they sit down to eat.

5. Sundays should be holidays. Workers should have Sundays off because “Sunday is for family,” he said.

6. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people. “We need to be creative with young people. If they have no opportunities they will get into drugs” and be more vulnerable to suicide, he said.

7. Respect and take care of nature. Environmental degradation “is one of the biggest challenges we have,” he said. “I think a question that we’re not asking ourselves is: ‘Isn’t humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature?’”

8. Stop being negative. “Needing to talk badly about others indicates low self-esteem. That means, ‘I feel so low that instead of picking myself up I have to cut others down,’” the Pope said. “Letting go of negative things quickly is healthy.”

9. Don’t proselytize; respect others’ beliefs. “We can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyses: ‘I am talking with you in order to persuade you,’ No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church grows by attraction, not proselytizing,” the Pope said.

10. Work for peace. “We are living in a time of many wars,” he said, and “the call for peace must be shouted. Peace sometimes gives the impression of being quiet, but it is never quiet, peace is always proactive” and dynamic.

Courtesy of the Catholic News Service.

8 Steps To Happy #septemberchallenge

8 Steps To Happy #septemberchallenge

It’s good to be real about our feelings – to admit to feeling down and depressed. But we mustn’t wallow in these feelings for too long. Continually feeling this way might be a sign of a physical or emotional need for healing and I would advise you to seek professional help. But for many of us it is a passing phase that we go through. I see my down times or times of discontent as the start of a period of increased creativity and so I’ve learned to accept that.

How do we create happiness on a regular basis, though? I believe that happiness is an inside job. I also believe that it’s pretty easy to make oneself happy.

So here’s my tried and tested list of 8 Steps To Happy

8-steps-to-happy

There’s no sequence to them – you can choose to do any one and increase your happiness quotient.

1.Shut down that computer – While the Internet is a great way to connect with others, it is also a way you can disconnect from your inner self. So shut it down for a day – read a lot, go for a walk, take a day trip, cook up a storm, but keep those devices turned off.

2. Take a long and luxurious bath – Tear open those packs of scented soaps and break the seals of those essential oil bottles you’ve been storing up for special occasions. Have a long warm bath – in a bathtub if you’re lucky to own one. If not, make sure you soak your feet in warm water besides having a shower. Let the water heal and nurture you.

3. Laugh your head off– Talk to the funniest person you know, catch your favourite comedy or  make a call to a good friend. Don’t dwell on your feelings. But talk about crazy stuff. The idea is to laugh. There’s nothing better than laughter to get your happy back.

4. Treat yourself to a good meal – Cook something special for yourself and your loved ones. I know a good hearty soup does the trick for me. It gives me the chance to be creative and I enjoy soup too. If you don’t cook or don’t want to, order in or even better go out for a meal.

5. Dress happy – Wear bright clothes, put on your make up (smile at yourself in the mirror while you do), accessorize! Make the effort even if you’re staying at home. When you look good, you often feel better.

6. Get a Nature-fix – Listen to the birds, go to a park, a garden or even to a zoo. If you can’t do any of these, play tapes of bird sounds, waterfalls, etc. There are plenty of ‘listen to nature‘ type of resources on the Internet. It might be a good idea for you to download them into your music player for happy-deficit times.

7. Spend some time in self-affirmation – Write down things you love about yourself – your best qualities – nice things you’ve done for someone else in the recent past. Read it aloud to yourself. Paste the list where you can see it.

8. Colour yourself happy – Like the music, this needs some resources – colour pencils, crayons, sketch books, colouring books. Tara Reed has some great colouring pages you can get for free.

As you can see, it’s easy to create happiness for ourselves. Keep the resources I’ve mentioned handy for a quick pick-me-up and you’re all set!

 

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We’re into the third week and Day 10 of the September Blogging Challenge. Now is about the time that your spirits might be flagging. Reach out and ask for help – get a friend to do a guest post or two… Stay the course! 🙂