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choosing JOY

sheer joy

The two things I want to impart to my daughters that I never saw modeled and am still learning are this:

#1 Follow your joy. Always.

#2 Walk away from things that hurt or don’t feel good.

I wish someone had taught me to say: “I don’t like the way you treat me (or how this feels) and if you don’t stop, I am going to leave.”

It’s all well and good to “master the mirror” and practice “radical forgiveness“. This is good inner work. This is THE work. However, we must also learn to CHOOSE differently once we’ve discovered the truth of our inner world. This is best done through paying attention to how we feel. Cultivating emotional intelligence teaches us to allow ourselves to feel so we can actually discern what feels good and right and true.

In a world with so much pain, it’s hard to find one’s way through the madness. So many of the stories or fucked up myths in the world about virgin sacrifices to angry gods or about foolish girls being rescued by handsome princes have made me and a lot of other women (and likely many men) believe that is how life is supposed to be. Seeing men lose control of themselves sexually or emotionally and then justify it has made me believe life is frightening and must be manipulated or worked around in order to survive. I no longer believe this is the truth.

Last night in my acting class, my teacher talked about how being the child of an alcoholic and attending an all boys school where boys were routinely beaten made him learn how to make himself small and insignificant to stay out of the way. In other words, he learned how to play small to cope and not be noticed. We do this to ourselves all the time–create a low status position so that those in higher status will accept us and not hurt us.

In truth, we are only hurting ourselves by perpetuating this paradigm. If we walk through the world trying to avoid pain, we can’t see our way to joy. Better then, to walk away from it and towards JOY. Let those who want to live in a construction of pain be there. It is their choice.

Choosing our response to any given situation is another thing that was underscored in my improv class last night. He said, “Whose job is it to follow the rules of improv? Just yours. You are the only one you can control.” Of course, this is true in life and relationships as well. I can only choose my own response. We see the following quote by Reinhold Niebuhr posted all over the place but how often do we heed its wisdom?

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I find myself heeding this wisdom more every day but am really checking in with myself not to confuse “accepting the things I cannot change” with “staying in fucked up situations with people who treat me like shit”.

It is, indeed, my response that I can mindfully choose.

I choose joy.

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