Tuesday, November 20, 2007

THE Shortcut to Joy

© copyright 2007 Hueina Su, Beyond Horizon Coaching

The other day, I was presenting a workshop called "C.P.R. for a Balanced Life". One of the principles I shared was "Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional." This principle always seems to strike a chord in the audience, and they often ask "How can you not suffer when bad things happen?"

Happiness is a Choice

Do you believe that life is supposed to be joyful and happiness is a choice?

Some people believe that life is all about pain and suffering. Some even act like the more they suffer, and/or self-sacrifice (think martyr), they will be able to collect some kind of reward at the end of life. Since our thoughts & beliefs create our reality, if you buy into that kind of beliefs, I think the only reward you will get is a self-fulfilling prophecy of a life full of suffering.

Sure, it's much easier to be happy when your life is all wine and roses. However, as you must have experienced, most of the times, things don't necessarily go our way. Sometimes, bad things do happen to good people, including you and me. That's when your free will and choice come into play.

Do you choose to see the glass as half-full or half-empty?

Do you choose to play victim and drown in self-pity, or do you choose to take 100% responsibility and take charge to find solutions?

Can you choose to see the positive side in everything, and be at peace no matter what?

Sometimes we have no control over the circumstances or events that happen in our life. If we were to change how we feel, the only thing we could change is how we interpret and respond to the events. There is always more than one way of looking at things. It really depends on from which angle you look at it.

I believe that everything happens for a reason. We may or may not see it, or appreciate it, but whatever happens in our lives is meant to help us grow into who we are meant to be, or help us move forward on our journey. When you choose to take on this belief, it would be easier to accept and be at peace with whatever you perceive as negative circumstances that you cannot change.

Uncommon Blessings

Sometimes when you are going through a particularly challenging time of your life, it might not be so easy to find the blessings. Can you recall something from your past that you thought was THE worst thing that could happen to you, and yet years later you realized that was actually a blessing in disguise? We all have this type of experience. What does it tell you? If you believe in a Higher Power and a Master Plan, it would be a little easier for you to trust that everything will work out eventually for your best interest. So, instead of suffering through it, why not choose to believe that it's a blessing in disguise, and choose to find the positive and/or the lesson presented to you.

Years ago I came to US for graduate school. I was very excited about the opportunity to live in a new country and pursue a graduate degree. However, within the first month, I had to have an emergency surgery, and ended up having to withdraw from all classes for the entire semester. I was devastated. The doctor came to congratulate me when he was about to discharge me and noticed that I seemed depressed. He couldn't understand why, since the surgery was very successful and it probably saved my life. I told him that I was very disappointed that I had to withdraw from all classes and waste the whole semester. It seemed like such a huge disaster back then. However, years later when I look back, all I feel is gratitude. I'm so grateful for those friends who took me to the ER in the middle of the night, and everyone who took care of me after the surgery. I'm grateful for the skillful doctor who cured a painful condition that had plagued me for years. I'm also grateful for those 3 months I got to spend in recovery. It took me a long time to realize that, that was the only 3 months in my adult life that I did not have a job, or school, or family. Hey, I didn't even have a boyfriend. I didn't have to take care of anything, or anyone. The only task I had in those 3 months was to focus on healing myself, and doing whatever I enjoyed doing. Coming out of a demanding nursing job and a challenging relationship, that was just the break I needed, before jumping into a new chapter in my life. It was, indeed, a blessing in disguise.

THE Shortcut to Joy

If all else fails, and you can't get out of a foul mood, I highly recommend that you take THE shortcut to joy -- count your blessings. I'm sure it's not difficult to find plenty of people and things that you are grateful for in your life. Bring them into your mind's eyes, and say thank-you silently to each one of them. Better yet, call or write to some of the people you are grateful for, and let them know how much you appreciate them. Trust me, you will feel better almost instantly.

So, here's my "Rx for Joy" for you: Count your blessings. Stat. Repeat as necessary.

"Reflect upon your blessings, of which every man has plenty, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some."
-- Charles Dickens

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