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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Permission Granted to Be Happy

My girls and I in a tree.

OK, I promised my readers a little insight into my search to tidy a messy mind. Here it is. It is simple yet, far more complex than it appears. It involves only one thing.

#1 Mindfulness comes first (before all other pursuits). Another way to put it is this:

 Permission Granted to Always Be Happy No Matter What.

I had been foolishly believing that I could not allow myself the simple joy of constant happiness or "joy de vie" because I had not accomplished all of my big goals in my career and a few other personal goals. It stems from our Western philosophy all about the patriarchal puritan work ethic: happiness or "joy de vie" is a sign of weakness. In our culture, a successful person has a head-to-the-grind-stone seriousness about life. Happiness is only allowed after a serious day of unhappiness and then only with a beer in hand.

It came to my attention that I am naturally a happy "joy de vie" person. But I have been chastised for being so and thus have attempted to thwart my nature. Growing up I was chastised by parents, grandparents and teachers for my playfulness. My Driver's Ed. Teacher called it a "Don't care attitude" (hey, all I did was chuckle when I attempted a 3 point turn but ended up pulling into a drive only to pull out again and keep going the same direction). Even my own Nana (rest her soul) had a serious talk with me one day, "We were all worried you'd never grow up" (still no idea who the WE included).  My father once told me (when I was a teenager) that he and my mother were concerned as I seemed too immature, (finding happiness in exploring and inventing with my sisters on a terribly isolated acreage in the middle of the prairie. Instead, I suppose, of being a normal teenager who hides in her room and does drugs in rebellion). 

So yes, I am by nature a person with great "joy de vie." It is not a "don't care" or immature attitude it is a happy attitude that finds joy in silly mistakes, small ways to find happiness in difficult situations that would send others into depression or drug addiction perhaps.  I am blessed to say this is my nature. But years of being told I was not serious enough and too playful has had its impact. To prove myself I decided to adopt the head-to-grindstone attitude and suppress that "joy de vie" until I had some real successful results by our Patriarchal Western Culture Standards. Thus, I have driven myself to succeed in areas of my career path without allowing myself to be happy just yet (as I have not reached the great final goals). I have been denying myself the time to simply enjoy small pleasures if they don't directly feed the path to one of my goals.

But guess what? Thank the universe for kindred souls like His Holiness The Dalai Lama. I love The Dalai Lama. I see in him the youthful playfulness that I was chastised for my entire life. And he and Buddhist philosophy tell me it isn't wrong to be playful and happy at all. In fact, it is right to be happy. One doesn't have to be unhappy because they haven't reached all of their "Western Society Success Marker" goals in life. To many it would appear that I have reached these goals but my idea of success for myself is quite rigid and the bar is set high.

And so, I finally accept my true nature and allow myself "joy de vie," despite our Western Society trying to tell me: no time for celebration yet, girl! So much more work to do. Head-to-grind-stone Girl. Head-to-grind-stone! I have been very good at  putting my head to the grind stone. My passion allows me to focus on any task I set for myself. But where it has all gone wrong is denying my "joy de vie" nature, believing that it was a sign of weakness. Now I understand what other's once said was a weakness, is actually a very prized strength. 

I allow myself to reconnect with the girl I have always been by nature--a happy girl who can find joy in small things despite the difficulties that surround her in life. And the truth be told, my Nana was not a happy woman. It is sad how many souls have been crushed by our perverted sense of when one can be joyful and when one cannot.

I will be joyful despite the problems I may have in my career, relationships and else where. Joy is out there, it's rather easy to find, especially if you use your imagination. That is what kept me a happy, drug-free teenage girl. This is who I have allowed myself to be again. Thank-you to His Holiness for showing me how beautiful and strong youthful-joy can be at any age.

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