What Brings You Joy

by Mary Boutieller

By listening to what it is we really need, we find what nourishes our soul, what feeds our heart, our imagination and our ability to keep going.

Recently, I ran into a friend who looked tired, a bit ragged really, worn out from the business of life, and he looked at me and said, “Do you remember that old song…Is that all there is my friend? Then let’s keep dancing…” He half hummed it, half sang it, and then commented that that was how he’d been feeling lately.

My friend is someone who, from outward appearances, has it all. He has a thriving business, a beautiful family, a big house, the nice vacations, etc. Yet, here he is wondering, out loud, if that’s all there is. I remembered going home feeling a bit sad, knowing how it is sometimes to be on the “hamster wheel of life,” thinking you might never get off the darn thing for all you have to do. I wonder what that must do to our psyches, our bodies, our health, our ability to think clearly, to empathize, to breathe.

I know that when I am really tired from a long day or a sleepless night or just “too much,” it seems to take more effort to be compassionate, to recycle, to do the right thing. I start to wonder if the whole world is suffering from “too much”—too much input, too much stuff, too much responsibility, too much information-negativity-pain-consumption-waste—just trying to keep up with everybody else. Hand-in-hand with this is not enough down time, hug time, sweet nothingness time, me time, you time, simplicity—until we start to feel that we just can’t do it anymore. How do we let ourselves get to that point? And how do we get back?

We get back, I think, by listening to what it is we really need. Only YOU know for sure what nourishes your soul, what feeds your heart and your imagination and your ability to keep going. Only YOU know what’s good for you, from the foods you eat, to the choices you make, the things you buy, the people you share time with…to what you choose to do with your one and only precious life. Maybe it’s hiking, maybe it’s singing, maybe it’s mashed potatoes and gravy! Maybe it’s any one of a thousand incredible choices just waiting for you to pick one.

Lately, I’ve been watching a show on Netflix called “Ann With an E,” a story of an orphaned girl who goes to live in Green Gables (based on the story of Annie of Green Gables). It’s a mostly sweet story starring this infectious girl who loves life and looks at things quite differently from most. In one show, she said something like this, “Aren’t we lucky to live in a world that has the month of October!” It made me smile. Most days for her are beautiful and inquisitive adventures. And I find myself wanting some more of that.

We live in interesting times, but each generation has lived in “interesting times.” Each generation has had their challenges, their struggles, their successes. Ours is no different. Life is happening right now—the good, the bad, the in-between. Whatever our struggles, we can and we must pause long enough to see our lives as the amazing miracles they are and try, at least once a day, to really see it as such! How lucky we are to live this life, right here, right now. Just take a moment to look around…not at what is wrong but what is right; not at what pains you, but what brings you joy; not at what needs changing, but what is perfectly okay just as it is.

I leave you with this little tidbit. A short while ago, I took a heart-opening workshop from my friend Julie and during it, she asked us to repeat a mantra: “I love myself just the way I am.” At first, I thought it was really kind of corny… because of course I do love myself just the way I am (except for….). But I started to do it earnestly, and then I turned it into a metta prayer that went something like this:

I love myself exactly as I am.

I love my husband exactly as he is.

I love my family exactly as they are.

I love my friends, my acquaintances, strangers, exactly as they are.

I love my life exactly as it is.

I love the world exactly as it is.

And as I practice this metta prayer of being in the present moment and in acceptance and in love with things as they are, I find it healing my soul, one day at a time.

So maybe you could try it as well—filling in the blanks with what makes sense to you—starting with yourself, and knowing we heal through love. We flourish through acceptance; we dance when we figure out that where we are and what we have is enough—even if it is just for now.

May you love yourself exactly as you are!

Mary Boutieller is a Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance. She has been teaching yoga since 2005. Her work experience includes 22 years as a firefighter/paramedic and 10 years as a Licensed Massage Therapist. Mary’s knowledge and experience give her a well-rounded understanding of anatomy, alignment, health and movement in the body. She is passionate about the benefits of yoga and the ability to heal at all levels through awareness, compassion, and a willingness to explore. She can be reached at: SimplyogaOm@gmail.com.

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