I’ve had my share of profound unhappiness. When it hits, I’m always struck by its enormity and completeness, like a hurricane that moves in and devastates until there is nothing left of what was touched.
For the record, I’m not talking about depression. I’m talking about reliving low points, like family dysfunction, poisonous relationships, infertility, miscarriages and cancer, in the tar pit of your soul. I’m talking about going about your business and WHACK! Something comes up and, like an elephant, you remember and relive your emotions like it’s happening to you all over again.
I don’t remember exactly where I was or what I was doing when a thought recently struck me out of the blue. It moved me so profoundly that I stopped whatever it was I was doing and wrote it down:
“I just had a deep understanding of what happiness is – being joyfully, unabashedly in the moment and trusting that that is exactly where you belong … this moment (and ME) is enough, in fact, it is all.”
Mindfulness is conscious awareness of what you are feeling and experiencing in the present moment. But there is more. To get to joy it’s not enough to just be aware of the present. To get to joy you have to trust that the present moment is exactly where you belong.
Joy comes from the knowing, the trust, the deep understanding that you are, right now, enough. With that trust and the joy it brings, you can let down your defenses and stop seeking validation. You can lean into happiness, which is the bubbling up of little pieces of joy in the moment.
As adults with histories, we can’t know happiness unless we know its opposite and find it in our hearts to trust despite that knowledge. It takes vulnerability and reliance on forces outside of our control, but, mostly, it takes a commitment to creating live out loud joy for ourselves.
In the five years since my diagnosis, I’ve experimented more and more with trust (because it finally took cancer to convince me of how little control I really had over life.) I’ve become more optimistic, more Zen and more patient. Who knew that trading the “safety” of mistrust, for the vulnerability of trust would lead to joy.
The Dalai Lama said “the purpose of our lives is to be happy.” Have you found yourself actively seeking out happiness and joy since your cancer diagnosis? Are you able to trust that you are exactly where you belong at the present moment?
Survival > Existence,