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How to Let Go and Live a Life of Joy

  1. Claim Your Essential Nature

Time and space fall away when we leverage our strengths to engage in activities for which we are passionate. Search your life for a time when you entered a state of flow in which you could work continuously with ease and smooth progress. What were you doing?

Perhaps you can’t think of a time. There is nothing wrong with you if you have yet to access a state of flow, oblivious to the progress of time and the world moving around you. It could just mean that you are living the dream and expectations laid heavy on your shoulders by others.

John knew he had an artistic eye and a strength for combining colors in tantalizing color pallets. As a child and teen, he spent hours engrossed in books on architecture, landscaping, art, graphic design, fashion, urban planning, and engineering design. A profession in a discipline of design would have enabled him to live true to his essential nature.

Instead, he broke under the pressure of his parents to study medicine and became a doctor instead. Every day at work he feels constant resistance. Living in disharmony with his nature caused him to suffer in discord and stress until the day he woke up desperate. He couldn’t live his life in pain any longer.

John decided to soothe his soul be getting up before dawn each day to submerge himself in the study and appreciation of design. One day a flash of insight lit him up with joy as he entered the hospital with its dull white and grey colors.

Six years later John opened the doors to the first preventative medicine office located in the inner urban landscape of his city. John had designed the building and community gardens himself at low cost, which would offer daily wellness classes and wellness day retreats for low-income residents in the community. His dream was to spread the wellness boxes across the country.

It will be difficult for you to open up to daily joy if you are living a life contrary to your essential nature. It’s never too late. You don’t need to shift your career or follow grand projects or dreams to change your life.

John opened up to joy the day he admitted his passion for design and started studying again. He lived in a state of ease and uplift once he found a way to leverage his love and strength for design to meet a challenge.

What are your strengths? What are your passions? How can you fuse the two and find time daily to use the fusion in a state of flow for at least ten minutes?

  1. Set the Vision but LIVE for the Process

Have you experienced a time in your life where you just gritted your teeth and committed to suffering through to reach the goal you set? Perhaps it was passing a test, completing a degree, preparing to move, or toilet training your child. You knew you would be relieved and happy once you achieved success. You were resigned to the misery necessary to get you to the finish line.

You’ve heard it before. Living for the future won’t make you happy. It’s living in the present that opens you up to a life of joy.

The answer is to turn your attention to your end goal and break it down into minuscule finish lines to cross each month, week, day, an hour. Write down what you intend to accomplish for each hour, day, week, and month’s worth of effort.

Focus your attention in as close to the present moment as possible. What can you do every day for a realistic space of time to make progress? Reward yourself after you finish each mini-race.

Even just saying to yourself, “yes, I did it, one hour of studying, writing, building, etc., completed and throwing your arms up in the air in triumph will flood your brain with dopamine. The rush in feel-good chemicals will elevate your mood and inspire you in your work.

At the end of the day review what you accomplished. Satisfaction in your daily progress will infuse your life with pleasure and happiness as you no longer obsess over reaching the result. Immersing yourself in the process and celebrating forward momentum will enable you to let go and live a life of joy on your way to achieving your goals and dreams.

  1. Give Up All-or-Nothing Goals

While it’s true that those who set explicit goals are ten times more likely to achieve them, setting all-or-nothing goals is a recipe for failure.

Setting goals that require too a too dramatic amount of willpower, lifestyle change, time allocation, or investment will cause you to fail.

Unless that is, you can go live in a retreat that supports the change in your life you seek for an extended visit.

There is a reason people pay a lot of money and leave their life to go to a rehab center. Everything from the food, to the therapists and community, lifestyle, and residence facilities support the achieving the goal of sobriety.

And there is a reason people save money to go on wellness retreats in gorgeous locations. Sometimes we need a few days of immersion in the way we want to live our life to inspire lasting change once we get home.

Far more realistic and accessible are setting micro goals. Instead of going all in and declaring you will give up all sugar forever, aim for the micro goal of going sugar-free each Monday. Hey, and if you hate Mondays and are grumpy anyway, you’ll be able to use your sugar detox as an excuse for your bad mood. Whereas some may be tempted to declare they are no longer eating red meat, or will now do an hour of yoga five days a week, you can set micro goals. You are committing to ten minutes of yoga each morning before work and meatless work weeks, which is more feasible.

Go meat or sugar-free and ten minutes of yoga is firmly entrenched on your day or days of the week, you can always set the bar a fraction higher. Aim for fifteen minutes of yoga, or six days a week of a vegetarian life.

Achieving your goals will charge your life with self-efficacy and confidence.

  1. Who do You Want to BE?

Aim for dreams, resolutions, new mini-habits, and daily living that align with your essential nature and the type of person you want to be.

How do you want to show up in the world?

What do you want people to see in you? How do you want to make others feel?