Friday, April 20, 2012

Finding Joy

Good morning beautiful souls!

I am half-way through a bowl of chocolate cranberry muesli right now... seriously yummy. I really think I ought to write a post about 101 ways to use my chocolate pumpkin granola. Addiction doesn't even begin to cover how I feel about this granola...

Anyway, today I've decided to dedicate most of the day to improving my blog. I was in the car yesterday on my way to a lesson and I asked myself if I were a reader of this blog, would I be clear on what the purpose is? I think it is pretty clear that I have a passion for vegan cooking and want to share it with the world, but that's only a third of what I want to accomplish. What about the other two-thirds? What about Simple and Joyful?

There is a line in my favorite children's book, Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney that I think sums it up the best:

Do one thing to make the world more beautiful.

I want to make your world more beautiful by inviting you to see how I found joy. I have experienced so much self-hate in my life and while everyone's suffering is unique, I know that there are so many of you who are going through similar situations to mine. And it absolutely breaks my heart. But the one consolation is I know you will get through to the other side. You will find something that teaches you joy and from there, the rest is easy. You just have to keep looking.

A very wise older gentleman told me something beautiful yesterday. He said, "I'm an old man. Life is short. It goes by so fast. So find what makes you happy and please do it."

I'm going to be honest, I had to choke back tears.

Why do we deprive ourselves of happiness? I think a lot of it has to do with feeling like we're in some way not able to get that thing we know would give us joy. In other words, we talk ourselves out of it. One of the first things I altered in myself on my road to joy was the way I talked to myself. I wasn't aware of it until my therapist pointed it out, but my self-talk was almost entirely negative. I was focused on what I did wrong rather than what I did right, and what's worse is I thought I was being too proud or too confident if I admitted to anything I did well.

Sound familiar?

Well it's completely wrong.

How can we hope to achieve happiness if we're constantly telling ourselves we aren't worth it? The answer is we can't. My entire life, I have been surrounded by people who love and support me, but their support could only take me so far. I had to do it myself. Confidence is beautiful. Pride is beautiful. There is nothing wrong with loving yourself. In fact, there is everything right.

And the moment I changed the way I treated myself, my whole world opened up. I gave myself permission to feel entitled to what I did well and humbled by what I hadn't learned yet. I found self-love through feeding my soul and on those days when I'm feeling less than amazing, it is that discovery that gets me through. It's such a beautiful place to be, and I hope that something in your life today inspires you to join me.

How to love yourself:

1) Find something you do well and observe how you treat yourself in those situations. Are you confident? Poised? Fun-loving? Excited? Learn how you act when you are most alive and then apply that sensation in every part of your life.

2) Get out of your head. If you are looking in the mirror and thinking about everything that is wrong, imagine saying those things to someone you love dearly. You should love yourself just as much.

3) Can't is a four-letter word. Replace it with a handful of words that best describe your personality. Mine are quirky, silly, fun, and loving. So instead of saying "I can't roller skate so I'm not going to go" say "I look so silly when I'm roller skating. At least they'll all get a laugh."

Which leads us to this point:

4) Learn to laugh at yourself. Laughter is like self-hate kryptonite. If you can find humor in the quirky things you do (I mispronounce words all the time. I once said superFLUS instead of suPERf-ulus), you can find self-love.

5) Talk about yourself. You don't want to be one of those people that completely dominates a conversation, but it is important to interject points about your day. What are you excited about, what did you do today that was interesting, what did you learn? You can physically be in a group of people but not be their spiritually. You are just as interesting and important as everyone else. Start treating yourself that way.

6) Remove toxic friends. If you have someone in your life that sounds just like that negative voice inside your head, ask yourself if you are spending time with them is really something that makes you happy.

7) Pay attention to your instincts. More often than not, we ignore how we feel in a given situation. Give yourself permission to seek constant joy. Try it first at home, then with friends, and finally at work. Really evaluate whether something feels good and right or whether it is just an obligation.

How did you learn to love yourself? I'd love to hear from you!

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