10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There) is a program to help us develop habits to grow a joyful spirit. Many of us sabotage our happiness by habits that we might not even be aware of. Identifying and changing these habits can build a reservoir of well-being to enhance our happy times and sustain us during challenging times.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. –Psalm 30:5
Once again, I find myself nearing the end of the year...surprised. Last thing I remember, it was Thanksgiving, and now poof! Christmas is almost here with the new year close behind. I will join others in reflecting more personally on this year, but today I want to offer one more post on what seems to me to be one of the prevalent qualities of this year.
Fear. And fear’s spawn – anger, hatred, judgment, anxiety, greed, blaming, isolation, selfishness, vengeance, stress.
We saw a year full of violence all over the world and in our own back yards, shattering not only lives but also innocence. In the United States we watched as a fiercely bitter political climate continued to polarize our country, with no end in sight even now. Nature added to the devastation with storms reflecting the human climate.
What to make of a year like this? I loved what Julie Barrett of A Clear Sign said in a comment to my last post. “I actually feel more hopeful. It feels to me as if there has been a huge shift in energy to the positive. I'm not sure why that is - it just feels that way to me.” Me, too.
There is something so radiant and resilient about the human spirit. Something in us, sometimes in our darkest hour, reaches for the light and transcends the fear that would keep us shackled in the pit. We can all think of examples, some that are known only to a few, some that inspire nations and even the whole world.
I need not look further than my own family. I think back to when Dan joined our family. He was a classmate of my son James, both in a special classroom because of their autism. When Dan was 14, his parents died within a few months of each other. They were refugees from Vietnam who came to the US after the war and Dan had no other family here. And so he became part of our family.
He was a 14 year old boy with autism and limited communication skills, an only child who had known only one home, with a family who loved him and protected him from the things in the world that he didn’t understand. Then suddenly he lost everything and everyone he ever knew and loved, and was thrust into that very world. He came to a new home, filled with strangers, with new food, new language, and a dog that terrified him.
It’s more than many of us have ever had to cope with, especially at a young age, and many of us have more obvious coping resources than he had. Yet Dan was not down for long. He quickly adapted and soon his sunny nature was beaming again. Dan has a zest for life that many of us aspire to. It never bothers people when they can’t understand him. They respond to his open spirit and his eagerness to be friends. He is my hero of indomitability, a phoenix rising from the ashes of the life he was forced to leave behind.
So like Julie, I am filled with hope because I know what we are made of, we humans. I know what we can do when we move through our fear and let our lights shine. And how do we do this? By heeding the lesson this young warrior learned.
A young warrior once had to battle fear. She did not want to, but her teacher insisted. On the day of battle, the warrior stood on one side, feeling small. Fear stood on the other side, looking big and wrathful. The warrior bowed to show respect and asked fear, “How do I defeat you?” Fear thanked her for showing respect and replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast and get in your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I say, I have no power.”
As we wrap up this year, let’s respectfully refuse to do what fear tells us to do. Let’s move towards the morning of the new year with an open hand reaching out, with sadness perhaps for what has been lost, and joy in our hearts for what is to come. Blessings to us all.
related posts: It Is Not So; Game Change
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What an inspiring story of how Dan adapted in such a big challenge and soon began to beam. You are right, the human spirit is resilient. And, it makes far more sense to bring joy to the world rather than fear. Thanks for this encouragement.ReplyDelete
Sandra, Taking Dan into my family was a big scary leap of faith. I have never been sorry because he is such an inspiration to me. Thanks for commenting.Delete
Sounds like a perfect idea to me! What better way then that to welcome in a new year!ReplyDelete
Karen, I'm going to try to follow my own advice! Thanks for your comment.Delete
There can no better way to welcome the New year by keeping aside our fears and moving ahead with full positiveness. Just like Dan and all that he has overcome right from that young age, we too need to fight our fears, which we can - provided we want to - isn't it? And yes, joy will come. :)
Thanks for sharing :)
Harleena, You are right that it is a choice. I like the image in the story of not fighting our fears as much as acknowledging them respectfully without responding to them. Thanks for commenting.Delete
What a lovely and inspiring story! There is so much more goodness and beauty in the world than fear and darkness, and it's so important to keep our attention on those beautiful things, because attention is the water that will cause them to grow. Here's to a hopeful and progressive new year!ReplyDelete
Jennifer, I love the connection you made to water. One of my favorite Bruce Lee quotes is "Be water, my friend." Thanks for commenting.Delete
Terrific! Even in times when we have legitimate problems, issues, or gripes, we ought to quickly put them aside and renew our focus upon positivity. Love your positivity!ReplyDelete
JJ, I thought you would like that story since you are such a fearless warrior yourself. Thanks for your comment.Delete
I remember reading about Dan earlier. Always squeezes my heart, Galen. That story about Fear - I love it. I am looking forward to a great 2013. Life will always have its ups and downs and offer lessons to learn. I pray for the ability to embrace the good stuff and amplify them. :-) Hugs! Somehow this year seems to have gone by rather quickly.ReplyDelete
Vidya, I, too, am curious about what 2013 will bring. After two intense years in my personal life (as well as the global intensity), I'm hoping for a quiet year. We'll see! Thanks for commenting.Delete
I feel so energized too at this point of time and so filled with hope. I do believe that we are reaching what is often called a tipping point. We now move into an age of hope and joy! Thank you for being a messenger of joy, Galen. ♥ReplyDelete
Corinne, I love this time of year. I know the end of the calendar year is an artificial line, but I love the freshness of it. It's like the painting I have titled Every Day, Newly Bright. Every year is a bright new beginning. Thanks for commenting.Delete
I can't make this stuff up.
For some reason this morning I decided to check my email on my phone before leaving my meditation spot (I NEVER do this). Anyway, I'm sitting there with the candle still lit and everything and - BOOM! - there's your post.
Why is this significant?
After today's meditation I had to write a goal for myself. Here's what I wrote: "I will aspire to be fearless." I chose this as my current goal because I know that fear has been a little too prevalent in my own life as of late and, like in the story of the warrior, I have been giving fear power the only way possible: by doing what it says more often than not.
Anyway, I was told to write the goal down so that I will be accountable to it and then be open to the coincidences and lessons that will come from all around helping me reach that goal.
Thank you for being the absolute FIRST step in my journey and thank you for giving me Dan as a source of inspiration!
Nicole, Wow, do I love this or what?! You and I have been on the same cosmic wavelength more than a few times. I am absolutely thrilled to be part of your step into fearlessness today! And if I might be so bold, you might enjoy a book by Pema Chodron--The Places That Scare You. Thanks for connecting today.Delete
I found your lovely site through a comment like at the prolific living blog. Fear has dominated my own life, and much of it had to do with my growing up with undiagnosed autism.
After 38 years, someone (me) finally put the pieces together and I was officially diagnosed with autism this year. Since, I began blogging about my life on the autism spectrum, which lead be to begin blogging a book, a memoir of sorts about growing up with undiagnosed autism. This is a book in progress at the moment, at www.aspiewriter.wordpress.com
I am thankful for your insightful words today. I am hopefully about the upcoming year--the first year that I can fully recognize myself, and understand many of the questions that haunted me. It will be a challenging new year, of this I am certain, but instead of looking at it with fear and apprehension, I am looking forward to it with a new sense of self and joy!
Many blessing to you in the New Year!
Greetings and welcome! I'm so glad you stopped by and I am going to check out your blog right away. Autism has been part of my life for many years now as the parent and foster parent of my two autistic sons. How wonderful for you to share your experience and life with others through your writing. I hope you will stay in touch. Thank you for your comment.Delete
Galen - You said it, there is not better way to start the New Year. Move forward and leave behind that which is too heavy to lug forward. The past is in the past and if we don't leave i there it will stop a person from giving and receiving joy.ReplyDelete
brenda, A Course in Miracles says that the only wholly true thought we can hold about the past is that it is not here. I have to remind myself of that frequently! Thanks for commenting.Delete
Every morning, in the shower, I say to a Power greater than myself, "Remove my fear, and direct my attention to what you would have me be."ReplyDelete
Linda, That's lovely and I will probably borrow it myself. Thank you for sharing that prayer.Delete
Galen your post speaks volumes, once we push beyond our fears, life and the world we live in becomes beautiful, flaws and all.ReplyDelete
Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed and very Merry Christmas.
darlin, Same to you and yours. I'm so glad we have traveled through another year together.Delete
Thank you for your thoughts Galen. You express hope beautifully. May we all embrace a positive spirit.ReplyDelete
Wishing you a joyous holiday and a new year filled with even more insight, growth and happiness.
Myrna, Thank you for your good wishes, and I wish the same for you and all of us.Delete
Another lovely post that taught me something: turn away from fear, which brings all those other things that you mention: hate, judgment, etc.ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing the story of Dan. How inspirational and full of hope!
Tina, Dan is an inspirational guy indeed! Thanks for commenting.Delete
This is an absolutely beautiful post, that touched my heart in a number of ways. Firstly, this is the third time I have come across someone saying this week that they too feel the shift in a positive direction. I will take this as a sign that we are embarking on a time when we will see a major shift towards increased positive energy in the world!ReplyDelete
Secondly, I too am touched by your Hero's story, a true testament to the strength of the Human Spirit.
Thank-you also for providing inspiration for my most recent post when commenting on my last post on acceptance...I am so glad that I linked it to your wonderful blog!
Peace, Love, and Blessings,
Ang, That is interesting that you keep encountering an awareness of a positive shift. I'm excited to see what it brings. Thanks for your kind words and the link on your blog--I'll be right over to take a look!Delete
Galen, you have overwhelmed me with inspiration here! Fear is the enemy of faith. When we have faith in God, we can defeat the fears which would defeat us if, as you quoted, we heed its call, not the Lord's.ReplyDelete
May your Christmas be blessed and bright, and you new year be filled with faith!
Martha, You always bring joy with you when you stop by. Maybe that verse should read, "Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with Martha."Delete
It's so funny that you used the Psalm you did, because as I wrote that last comment, I was thinking,"Joy commeth in the morning" (and my reference would be a book by PG Wodehouse of Jeeves and Bertie fame, which is hilarious). The beauty of this life is our ability to rise up out of the ashes like the Phoenix, and with a smile on our face.ReplyDelete
Julie, Funny that we would be thinking of the same line from different sources. Thanks again for your positive influence.Delete
It has taken me too many years to finally understand that fear and worry are absolutely the antithesis of a happy life. They accomplish nothing positive and usually the worry never materializes into reality.ReplyDelete
If I ever find myself worrying or fearful of something I try to shut that emotion down immediately. I refuse to allow it a foothold in my mind.
BTW, everyone in my family is getting a copy of your book for Christmas. That is one way I can help spread your message of joy and happiness.
Bob, You are right about many worries never materializing. Like the quote--"My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened." Love that!Delete
Bless your sweet heart for helping me support Edwards Center by giving my book as gifts to your family. You are a prince, my friend.
You are so inspiring! This was just such a lovely post. I agree that we can all be more hopeful and happy. It is a choice. Faith gives me great hope. I do have a strong hope in Christ and trust that all will be well. I admire you for caring for Dan. There are not enough people in the world that would do this. Your thoughts today were so powerful. Thanks for lifting my heart today. Blessings and hugs to you!ReplyDelete
LeAnn, Taking Dan into my family was one of the times I can look back on in my life when I made a true leap of faith. It was a crazy thing to do, and yet I knew so deeply that I was supposed to do it. I've never been sorry. Thanks for your comment and blessings to you, too.Delete
Nothing to add, except, wonderful post that will inspire me as well to welcome the new year "with an open hand reaching out, with sadness perhaps for what has been lost, and joy in our hearts for what is to come."ReplyDelete
Tom, Always nice to know you've stopped by. Thanks so much for commenting.Delete
a lovely post!! which makes me thankful for my faith..as I know fear is not from God...ReplyDelete
Annmarie, So true that faith soothes fear and gives courage to the fearful. Thanks for commenting.Delete
That was such a magnanimous role you accepted. You are truly my hero with a giving heart. May all the Christmas blessings bestow upon your family. With love and peace, ManzanitaReplyDelete
Manzanita, Thank you for your lovely Christmas wishes. Same to you and your family.Delete
I admire your resolve, your compassion, and your spirit in the decision to take Dan into your lives. It's can be trying at best, to deal with a special child. But I'm sure the reward is well worth it.ReplyDelete
Barbara, Yes, the rewards from bringing Dan into our family far far outweigh the challenges. Thanks for commenting.Delete
I was so tired last night that my comments were way short. I think the positive trumps the negative every time. There are challenges in any family situation. But God never gives us a problem without many solutions to address that problem. That tends to put a lot of challenges into perspective.ReplyDelete
Blessings in all that you do and may you all have a Merry Christmas!