Emptying The Cup, Just a Little

I have come to an important realization this week. With my focus on JOY and getting more of it into my life, I’ve noticed that the times I am the happiest are when I am in connection with other people.

Phone calls and laughing over a coffee or a glass of wine with a friend or family member have been balm to my soul. Add to that, deep conversation into the evening and feeling understood come close to the top of the list.

But the connection that goes deepest is the one I have with God and my world; knowing that in spite of it all, God knows me and loves me just the way I am, and He knows what is best for me.

god

Over the past six months I have belonged to an online fitness group led by none other than Bill Phillips. It has been wonderful to be taught via live video every day by a man I believe to be on the cutting edge of fitness and nutrition. There were about two hundred of us in the group from all over the world. Daily we posted sweaty selfies, accountability, and photos of our food. We encouraged each other, corrected each other and cheered each other on.

I became popular.

It was great! I am so grateful for that time and the goals I accomplished. I learned to feel good about myself; I lost some weight and gained muscle as well as more energy. Most importantly, the illnesses that had plagued me for the past two years disappeared. I was pretty happy about all that.

I became more popular.

But then something happened. I realized that I was spending more and more tme on facebook watching live videos, doing the workouts and interacting with the group. I noticed that I was less present in my here-and-now world and more present with my new online friends. I noticed an emptiness creep into my life and when I finally pinpointed it, I disconnected from the online group.

I was not popular anymore.

Lest you think this was easy, let me tell you, it was akin to getting out of the religious cult I was in for twenty one years, although on a much smaller basis.

All of a sudden there is a big void in my life that I feel I have to fill.

But do I have to fill it?

Can I just be happy to let God direct my next steps? Can I be still and just let it happen?

wait

I think I can, and I will do it. I will rest in the peace and joy that, when the time for the right thing comes into my life, I will be ready and waiting.

Remember, you can’t fill a cup that is already filled with good things but maybe not the best things for you. Sometimes you have to empty the cup a little in order to be filled with other, more meaningful things.

So now I am waiting.

cup

Well, What is Joy Anyway?

I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart

Where?

Down in my heart

Where?

Down in my heart…to stay.

And I’m so happy, so very happy

I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart…

Remember that song from Sunday school when you were younger? I’m not sure if children still sing it, but when I think of being joyful I do remember it. I remember singing it as an adult and thinking, “What on earth does it mean to have ‘that’ joy down in my heart?” It’s difficult to sing that song and frown at the same time.

Maybe we’re on to something here.

Well, what is joy anyway?

The dictionary defines it as the emotion evoked by well-being, success, good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.

That would mean that joy is an emotion and subject to external circumstances. It would also imply that you could only be joyful if you are successful and you get what you want. Strange thing though, I know lots of successful people who have everything they could ever want and they are not even happy, let alone joyful. Some of them are depressed and have a black cloud over them wherever they go. And when they manage to step out from under the black cloud, they turn back and pull it over themselves again. Do you know people like that?

On the other hand, have you ever met people who have very little and they’re not doing so well health-wise, but they have a twinkle in their eye, they smile a lot and are generous with what they do have? I know people like that and they are usually busy giving little gifts, baking for people even less fortunate than they are, and in general they are content with their lives. They spread happiness and smiles everywhere and when they leave, you feel better about yourself and everything around you. These are the people who spread sunshine, love and hope.

I think they might be joyful!

Perhaps joy is much bigger than happiness. While happiness appears to be dependent on external circumstances like good fortune, health or the weather, joy is not dependent on such things. Joy is a state of mind and heart that gives our lives meaning and makes us come alive. At first it is a state of mind and then it becomes a trait we have and is woven into our way of being.

So once again, what is joy?

Joy is a trait we have that is more than happiness,

just as happiness is more than pleasure.

Pleasure is in the body.

Happiness is in the  mind and feelings, but

Joy is deep in the heart, the center of our very self.d3770_joy_heart

Un-Great Expectations

Positively No Negativity Challenge

 Day 73 of 84

Do people close to you let you down? Do they disappoint you? Does that put you into a funk?

A key to positivity for me is to get rid of the expectations I have of other people. You know the kind:

You expect your friends to invite you to their daughter’s wedding.

You expect your kids to call you on your birthday, Mother’s Day, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter and Groundhog Day.

You expect your partner to be there for you and to meet all your emotional needs.

 You expect your boss to go to bat for you in that sticky situation at work.

And when those things don’t happen you are disappointed, even upset with the person who let you down.

Can you relate?

Well, maybe your friends could only afford a small wedding and had to pare down the guest list for their daughter’s wedding. And maybe your children have issues in their lives that you don’t know about. Or maybe they tried to call you but the line was busy. Perhaps your partner is just not capable of being all, doing all that you expect of him. He loves you but doesn’t have psychologist attributes, and therefore he feels helpless in the face of your turbulent emotions.

At some time or another everyone will let you down, and you will let people close to you down as well. It’s just a fact of life. We’re not perfect and we cannot be all things to all people all of the time.

expectation

When you have expectations of other people, it puts them in a position of trying to make you happy, and I don’t think that ever works. Is my partner responsible for my happiness? Am I responsible for his? In actuality, we are each responsible for our own happiness. While it is true that being happy is often a by-product of our circumstances, it is up to us to decide how we will react and adapt to those circumstances.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “People are about as happy as they make up their mind to be.”

People rarely behave exactly the way you want or expect them to.  Hope for the best, but expect less.  And remember, the magnitude of your happiness and positivity will be directly proportional to your thoughts and how you choose to think about things.

Ok so here’s the thing that really prompted this entry. Last week I went out for a late lunch at my favorite café. I was planning to have a Mediterranean wrap, my fave. I guess it was everyone else’s favorite café as well, because they literally had no food left. So I had a coffee and a muffin (which was not on my plan) and then I called hubby to let him know how distressed I was. We talked about supper options and left it at that. Finally I got home at suppertime and, can you imagine what Dave had made for me? You guessed it…nothing! Truth be told, I was so expecting him to have something delectable ready for supper, I was salivating. Disappointed? You bet! A little angry? That too. Did I ruin the evening with my expectations? Yes.

Lesson learned.

 Today I am grateful:

1. For trials that have taught me more about myself

2. For my desk

3. For the rocking chair I sit in every day to write

4. For broccoli soup on a cold day

5. For three conversations with people I love