|Finding Joy and Meaning in the Midst of Uncertainty
The following article was written by Mark Susnow a friend of mine and the Illustrators Journal. AS usual Mark’s insight is valuable so I thought I’d put it out there for my readers. I hope his words inspire you like they do for me.
The end of the year and the beginning of the new is a time of transition. We think about what we’ve accomplished and all that has occurred in the year just ending. We think about our relationships, our careers and our health. We look forward to the year ahead wondering what’s in store for us. We know from our work together that the future involves venturing into the land of the unknown with all of its uncertainties. For many of us, this uncertainty is not only anxiety provoking but at times stifling.We might set goals for our careers, our relationships and or our wellbeing to help us move forward. In the beginning of the year we have good intentions, but at some point on our journey into the future, we get disconnected from what our intentions were in the beginning of the year.
It’s not unusual that at some point we experience more than our share of obstacles. We’re not always prepared for what life throws at us. We notice that lifes currents seem swifter, and the waters deeper. There are those moments when we feel that we’re in over our head and that our life is spinning out of control. You might be wondering how you can stay afloat in the midst of this uncertainty.
The simplest answer is to adopt a more enlightened perspective about what the future might bring.
“The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination.”
What if, in the future we are creating together, our focus is on creating wellbeing? What if we’re able to smile in the midst of the tears and the uncertainty? There is a model we can follow. In the tiny Himalayan country of Bhutan, “Gross National Happiness” is more valued than gross national product.
You might think that this is impractical in the rapidly changing and complex world that we live in. Even so, we can choose to be happy. Let’s look at what we can do that will support us in making this choice.
1. Start the day by taking time for quiet reflection. It sets the tone for the day.If you want to experience peace and wellbeing, then take time in the morning for quiet reflection before you do anything else. Just taking 10-15 minutes for reflection acts as a shock absorber to buffer you from life’s concerns. When your shocks are not functioning properly every bump in the road is intensified.
After meditation begin to focus on what you are grateful for. It’s an amazing practice which has the power to transform your life. By focusing on what you are grateful for, your focus shifts to what is good in your life, rather than on what is wrong. It also shifts your focus from what might be or what might have been, to what is (the now.)
2. Learn how to recognize and know your VOJ. The VOJ is that voice of judgment that drives you nuts. You know it. We all do. You would give anything to silence it even if just for a few minutes. The sooner that you can recognize your VOJ, the sooner you can become free of the hypnotic spell that can last a lifetime if you don’t do anything about it. But the doing is a different type of doing. It’s just noticing.
3. Self-Acceptance is the next practice. Let’s be honest with ourselves. There are certain things we can’t change. We can’t change who are parents are. We can’t change our country of origin. We can’t change all of the injustices in the world, although we might try. But we do have the potential to change how we think about ourselves and how we think about the circumstances of our life. Once you do you will feel lighter and freer. And isn’t that what it’s all about–becoming lighter
4. Introduce positive self-talk into the conversation. Now that you are more familiar with those voices and patterns that have been running your life it’s time to listen to a new voice which, if honored and respected, can change how you think about yourself. It’s the voice of Inspiration and Praise (VIP) that we don’t listen to enough. When I think that I shouldn’t have felt the way I did about something that happened, or that I shouldn’t have acted in a certain way, my VIP sends me a few words of encouragement, by saying to me, “You’re doing great. You handled that well.” As you learn to trust and listen to this voice, how you feel about your life shifts.
5. Make time for the Jollies. We all have faced our share of challenges that at times seems overwhelming. Even so, there are many things that have given us joy at one time or the other. They might be little things that we have forgotten about.
The Jollies is taking the time to do what gives you joy even if you still have loose ends in your life. It took me a while to get this, but there will always be “loose ends” and uncertainty. If you always wait for the perfect time to begin something new or to be happy, you’ll never begin. The only perfect time is now.
So there you have it–There’s only one thing left to do. Enjoy the journey and make it an exciting adventure of discovery.
Let me know how you are doing. You know I love to hear from you. Please feel free to share this letter with those in your circle.