I’ve been on a long journey to finding joy. I decided a while ago that I no longer wanted to occupy my space with negativity. I wanted to feel what it felt like to enjoy life; to wake up everyday with a smile on my face and happiness in my heart. I wanted to feel what it felt like to continue on with life graciously after facing hard times. I woke up one day and made the decision that, “today will be my fresh start to looking at life from a different perspective”.
I believe our joy is taken away the moment that we allow ourselves to be lived by life rather than allowing our life to be lived by us. You see, you get out of this life what you put into it; I choose to put in positivity, open-mindedness, empathy and understanding. The result that I get: joy. Though I say that I just woke up one day and decided to look at life differently, understand that there were many obstacles, hardships and painful occurrences that I faced before I got to my breaking point. I’m a strong individual, this I know, but what I realized was that just because I’m strong doesn’t mean that I have to endure pain and suffering. I can choose to eliminate those pieces of my life. I’m not saying that I just magically made pain and suffering go away; no. Instead, I made the conscious decision to gain control over my emotional/mental state and find the joy in all situations (good or bad) and in each day.
The older I get, the more I realize that the amount of time we spend being angry, bitter and sad, is precious time that we can never get back. It’s hard to ignore ignorance, it’s hard to let go of the pain that others have caused us, it’s hard to move on when it seems like we haven’t had enough time to dwell in that moment of suffering. Although it’s hard, it’s so beneficial. You become someone that you never knew existed. You become a whole different you and that’s the exciting part. I wake up everyday now with only joy, happiness and love in my heart and on my mind. I wake up thinking, “how can I not only be joyful, but also spread joy today?”
I know you may be thinking, “okay, you’re telling me who you are now, but how did you get there?” You have every right to wonder. Of course, the purpose of this blog is to share my journey through life with you. So if you’re wondering how I started finding the joy in all things, here’s the keys:
1. Acknowledge that bad things happen to everyone, not just us. A lot of times we may feel like the universe is against us or that we’re stuck in this downward spiral that we can’t seem to escape. That’s never the case. Everyone goes through it at some point in their lives and we are all capable of pulling ourselves out of the pit.
2. Understand that we need to go through the downs in life in order to learn and grow. If we never experience hardships, how would we know what to do and what not to do, what to say and what not to say, what to think and what not to think? Negative experiences make us who we are just as much as positive experiences do.
3. Allow ourselves to feel. Be angry, be bitter, be sad, be upset. Hiding our emotions does us no good. If anything, it actually makes things worse. I follow Beyonce’s rule of thumb:
“Whenever I feel bad, I use that feeling to motivate me to work harder. I only allow myself one day to feel sorry for myself. I ask myself, ‘what are you going to do about it?’ I use the negativity to fuel the transformation into a better me.”
4. Forgive ourselves and forgive others. Whether we are the cause of our own pain and suffering or someone else is, we must forgive. The key to this is that we have to forgive others even when no apology is received. Some people are too prideful to apologize or they simply just don’t feel that they were in the wrong. That’s okay. Forgiveness is something that we do for the benefit of ourselves, not for the benefit of others. It brings us peace in a way that we have never felt it before.
5. Move on from it all. After we’ve gone through the previous steps, it’s time to move forward and never look back. The past is the past and we no longer live there. We’ve experienced, we’ve learned, we’ve grown and now we must move on. We take those lessons with us and carry them into our present and future.
Most things in life are easier said than done; especially when it pertains to our personal growth. It takes a lot of effort, patience and time to change, but it can be done. You have to have the motivation, the strength and the willpower to do so. If you believe in yourself though and this is really a change that you want to make, you’ll do it. The journey won’t be perfect and it won’t be a straight shot. Even I can admit that I have setbacks. There are days where someone hurts or upsets me and I think to myself, “they’re lucky that I’m not the same person I was a couple of years ago.” There are days where something doesn’t go as planned and I feel myself slipping into depression. Then I remind myself, “no Shaienna, you can’t think like that, you can’t go down that road again.” I go through the 5 steps and I end up feeling like myself again, the new and improved me, the one who has committed herself to finding the joy in everything.