Rooms 162-170: Stop Being So Serious
The Road To Joy
“In every job, there must be an element of fun.”
As a general rule, I don’t take life too seriously. I am very much at home with the absurd and the foolish. Tell me I don’t act my age and I’ll wear it as a badge of honor. As my wife likes to say I have never fully grown up. Of course, I don’t think she means it as a compliment.
It’s tough to live with Peter Pan.
However, for all my lightness, I can just as quickly turn serious. One minute I’m dancing on the pool table in my bold pants and the next moment, I have the whole world on my shoulders.
All 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilograms of it.
That’s a lot of weight for a guy who can’t lift the light end of a dresser.
I suspect I’m not the only Wannabe-Atlas who thinks he can carry the world and all its problems on his back. We’re a serious planet, and we have the crooked backs and furrowed brows to prove it, as well as the 6:00 news to remind us that there is much to be serious about.
War, hunger, violence, disease, unemployment, and natural disasters. And that’s not counting all the extra stones we put in our pockets. When we think we’re a failure, or we’re not good enough, smart enough, rich enough. All that infectious anxiety that creeps its way into our day.
And before we know it, everything in our life is serious, right down to the neighbor’s dog crapping on our lawn or the gardner’s blaring leaf blower. Being serious makes us lose perspective, causing us to forget why we’re here on this planet in the first place. It lets us believe that we are all about doom and gloom instead of light and joy.
If left unchecked, sooner or later, we’ll start believing we have no right to be joyous and happy. This isn’t always so obvious. Rather, it’s a subtle tape that we slowly buy into. A tape that says we have no right to laugh when we’ve been out of work for six months. And how dare we smile when our best friend has cancer, or a child in Africa is starving.
And what happens next is perhaps the greatest tragedy. Somewhere along the line, we stop believing that joy is important. And so what do we do? We stop looking for it.
And in that moment, we lose our connection with the world, with our Source. Even worse, we lose connection with who we were intended to be.
Well, I don’t know about you, but that’s not the way I want to live my life.
I say today—wherever we stand—let’s reclaim our joy. And let’s not just reclaim it, but let’s allow it to unfold and grow, then spread out so that it can collectively heal not only ourselves, but the entire planet.
The world doesn’t need more worries, woes and seriousness.
It needs more joy, light and beingness.
If we let ourselves, we can each become carriers of this joy.
Rooms 162-170: Stop Being So Serious
The Road To Joy
Let’s be clear: I’m not suggesting there aren’t real, heavy-duty problems in this world. I’m only suggesting that these problems aren’t the whole story. In fact, they’re only one story…one tiny room…and we can’t let newspapers, neighbors, friends or even ourselves make us believe anything different. To do so would be to deny ourselves access into a whole new magnificent world.
So, this week we’re going to stop being so serious. It’s time to walk into a new room, with a common purpose: to bring more joy into our lives.
Here are some Joy Starters to get us going.
1. Turn off the news.
CNN, New York Times, BBC, your Uncle Louie. Give them all the week off, or at least a couple days. And, while you’re at it, give yourself permission to not know how many people died in the chemical explosion in Kazakhstan. You’re aren’t less of a person. Nobody will judge you. The pearly gates will still open.
2. Avoid the bearer of bad news.
We all know that guy who can’t wait to be the first to tell you that the stock market crashed, or that Andy Griffith died, or how many people are getting shingles these days. And the good ones will be convincing, coming at you with charts and photos. Don’t be tempted. Turn the flashlight on their vampire eyes and run. They’ll suck the joy right out of your veins.
3. Seek out positive people.
My wife and I have this friend who recently died. She lived 89 years and will be remembered for many good things. The greatest perhaps is her uncanny ability to make you feel special. Anytime you did something out of the ordinary, she’d say, “A win for you, Bill, is a win for all of us.” As joy seekers, make it your mission to find individuals who encourage you and want you to succeed. People who walk into your life with flowers and stories of hope, inspiration and insight.
4. Go to the light.
This week we can also make a conscious effort to seek out books, TV shows and movies that make us laugh or feel joy. And, yes that’s coming from a guy who just watched three straight episodes of the TV-show Dexter, which, if you don’t know, is about a serial killer. Light it is not.
But, the point is not to avoid the dark, but to be conscious of only watching the dark, or staying in the same room all the time. Personally, I go to David Sedaris for a good laugh, or Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Ellen, Modern Family, Jimmy Fallon, The Big Bang Theory, Chris Rock, my Uncle Roberto. I know people who can get me to laugh and feel good. Get your own list together and run with it.
5. Allow the universe to do its thing.
The sooner we realize that there is a greater purpose in the world, even the darker parts, the sooner we can let go of a lot of the seriousness. Understanding might not always make the road easier, but acceptance will. While we can have empathy and compassion for others, and even help when it feels right, we shouldn’t “feel bad” for anybody. It doesn’t help. It only makes you more serious. Let others have their experiences. Their truths. Their awakenings. Give them a blessing to help them become what they can become, but then allow it all to be.
6. Don’t make mountains out of molehills.
While nobody can turn an itch into a rash, or a sniffle into pneumonia like I can, let’s be honest, I’m not alone. Many of us become overly serious simply because we allow our imaginations to get the best of us. This week, let’s not make things worse than they are. We can begin by resisting the knee-jerk temptation to blow any struggle we face out of proportion. Rather, let’s see how many serious things we can downplay—not ignore, but reframe into something positive.
7. Less doing. More being.
The fastest way to seriousness is to be busy all day long. Having one long to-do list makes us feel as if we have no time for ourselves, which makes us grumpy, which makes us serious. This week, set aside time in your schedule for nothing, except maybe to sit on the porch, go for a walk, do a contemplation, take a nap. It’s your time. Use it wisely.
8. Do things that make you happy.
First of all, no one is saying quit your job or stop taking out the the trash. Assuming you’re conscious and doing no harm to others or yourself, we should all spend more time doing what makes us happy. Go to a movie. Golf. Enjoy a spa. Garden. Take a walk on the beach. Run, bike, swim. Whatever it is you love to do, do it. This week make a list of 15 things that make you happy and commit to doing one thing from that list that you rarely do anymore. Remember, you’re not just doing what makes you happy, you’re generating joy…and that’s something that is good for everyone. In fact, being happy is downright altruistic. Go ahead, give yourself a pat on the back.
9. Walk in right angles.
Finally, what is joy without a stupid experiment once in awhile. This one is called walking in right angles.
I bet you didn’t know that the average person will walk about 65,000 miles in their lifetime, which is about three times around the earth! That’s a lot of walking, especially when every single one of those steps is pretty much like the one before it. One foot in front of the other. Every day the same boring walk.
I suppose you get where I’m going with this. It’s time to walk differently. I’ve done this room before, and to be quite honest, I’ve never done it without pleads from my family for me to get my own apartment. Regardless, I love it.
The idea is simple. Every turn you make has to be in a 90 degree angle (with a 1-2 degree leeway for the mathematically challenged). It’s kind of like you’re walking in the army. It’s not the most efficient way of walking, and if you do it right, it will certainly take you longer to get where you want to go (hint: walking backwards helps cut down on the right angle turns).
Now, I know what you’re thinking—there is a man who works at home. And, yes, I agree this might not be for everybody. But, isn’t that what Saturday was invented for? And if 90 degree angles aren’t your thing, then pick your own new way to walk. Walk like an Egyptian or John Travolta or 50 Cent…skip, shuffle, strut, hop…just walk differently. And if you can only do it for one hour in the pitch black night, do it then. For one day, make your 1000 steps unlike any other of the 52 million steps you will take in your life. If anything, it will put a smile on your face.
Humor me…give it a try.
Of course, no matter what we do this week, the reality is this: if we are to truly find joy, we have to feel the weightlessness of joy, which only comes when we let go and surrender. It is impossible to soar into new universes when we’re bolted to the earth with the weight of the seven continents.
As human beings seeking to become awake, it’s our mission to transcend the struggle and weight of life so that we can witness life’s true meaning.
To seek joy. To become Joy. To live as joy.
A room doesn’t get better than that.
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