Opening to joy

“When we decide to open our eyes and be fully awake, we realize that much of the suffering is a self-created illusion. If we can trick ourselves into being the victim of our own misery, then surely we can just as easily volunteer for self-determined joy.” ~Lisa Cypers Kamen

This quote caught my eye this morning in an entry that came in via an RSS feed. I am so guilty of doing this—tricking myself into being the victim of my own misery. I can find that one gnat in a barrel of honey and then focus on that gnat so intently that I completely miss the sweetness all around it. I see nothing but the one small flaw and manage to make myself miserable in the process thinking that joy is something that has to wait until life is perfect in every way. The problem with this way of thinking is that life is never perfect. There are always flaws. So I doom myself to a life trapped in self-imposed misery by choosing to see only the flaws and overlooking all of the joy.

I’ve been learning the last few months as I’ve learned to open to abundance to begin to let go of the focus on the negatives in my life. I’m not oblivious to them; I don’t deny their existence or refuse to deal with genuine problems that need to be solved. But I don’t let those negatives and those problems become my entire focus. I don’t use their existence to make me a victim of my own misery. I acknowledge them, I do what might be needed to resolve them (if possible), and then I focus on all the things in my life for which I can be grateful—and there are enough of those to keep me busy for quite some time.

This is not to say that I have mastered this change in focus. By no means! There are still times when the magnitude of what I am facing completely overwhelms me, and I sink into the slough of self-pity. But more often than not, I consciously choose to focus on my blessings rather than my trials, and I find this is enabling me to live through this uproar with greater joy, gratitude, and calmness than I would have ever thought possible. I’m finding that being open to joy—being open to the sweetness of life even when life is not perfect—provides an opening into which joy can pour.