By: Kyle Elden
Do you ever run into the feeling that you aren’t reaching your potential? That perhaps there are some default habits or behaviors in your life that continue to keep you stuck in unhappiness? Or, that there is this thing in life that needs to change, a step you could take, this something you have to offer the world but you are too afraid or lazy or (fill in the blank)….Even if it’s just offering the world your best, most kind, most honest self each day, that’s a pretty spectacular existence.
I’ve been reading a lot about HAPPINESS and reaffirming the reality that true happiness doesn’t come from anything external, but rather is a conscious choice to realize the million ways life is good every moment of every day in spite of difficulty and imperfection. That happiness doesn’t magically just show up, come for good, unpack all the party bags, turn up the bumpin’ music, and roll out the red carpet in your living room so you can trot along your life with fanfare knowing you are awesome, sexy, lovable, perfect and finally, downright H-A-P-P-Y. It’s not a math equation: If/ when (X) happens, then (Y) = HAPPINESS! If I finally get the job, the house, have more money, get married, have a baby, lose weight. If, everyone else would be nice to me, realize how great I am, stop their crap. Then, I’ll be happy.
Elbert Hubbard stated “Happiness is a habit - cultivate it!” Shawn Achor, a leading researcher and renowned speaker in the field of Positive Psychology and author of The Happiness Advantage indicates that “[It’s] the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. And if we can change the lens,” we then change our experience of happiness, or lack thereof, you also change the outcome for greater success (personally and professionally). So, how you choose to perceive a situation coupled with practicing happiness can turn you into a happy-heavy weight lifting happiness champ.
Life isn’t perfect. It’s messy, confusing, presents daily troubles, difficulties, and things/people/emotions to manage. I was just reminded of a quote I found in Elizabeth Lesser’s book Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, she refers to one of her favorites by Wavy Gravy a clown-activist, “We’re all bozo’s on the bus, so we might as well sit back and enjoy the ride.” I love this because it points to the fact that we are all imperfect and once we just come to terms with that and realize we are all bozos we can be a little less hard on ourselves and one another, be honest about our imperfections and find a little humor, or “enjoy the ride” of life a bit more.
In order to find the humor, enjoy the ride and allow happiness to become manifest in your day to day life, you must be able to stare at yourself in the mirror before you pluck those dark ugly chin hairs, apply the concealer on the dark circles under your eyes, and be honest with yourself about your imperfections. Be truthful about the ways you just might be the one responsible for your happiness, or lack thereof. Look at the ways you are invited into living your life awake, becoming happier, accomplishing the things you dream about and know you are capable of.
I wrote this poem as a reminder to myself about the million ways I avoid my own awakening. Maybe it’s just about being more mindful when it comes to spending, saving and paying down debt. Maybe it comes down to making exercise, eating well and self-care a priority. Maybe it is related to being positive and practicing gratitude. Or maybe it’s something bigger, a huge leap of faith into unknown territory like trying to get published, or look for a new job, or move away, or leave an unhealthy relationship, or, or, or….Typically in life, when there is a problem or an opportunity, I usually only have myself to blame for avoiding the change necessary to fix it or not taking the step needed to capitalize on my potential.
The Million Ways to Avoid Awakening
When you are called to something
you do not want to go.
The sunlight fills your room
in the dawn break shattering
of light that strains your eyes
and the birds sing and sing you
shut the windows
draw the shades, pull the covers
over your head, go back to sleep.
When you set yourself to awaken
the alarm does sound but
shut it off
drift back to sleep underneath
the dark heavy lids of your