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Choosing Joy

Day 1: The Objections


arnsmugWhen I look back upon the parts of my life where I have decided, consciously, to enact my own growth… and if I look at the experiences of my clients where they too have moved themselves to making a conscious decision about their own growth… then it seems to me there is a fairly constant rule:


"When you choose a new direction for your life you first have to deal with your own internal objections"


The best way to explain this is with an example. And the best example I have is that which has just happened to me.  Yesterday I made a firm commitment to choose joy. To take creative control of my emotions and to just choose to be happy.  The FIRST thing that happened after that was an objection. A reason “why not”. I like to think Life is giving me an opportunity to test my choice to see if I really want to live by it.


So last night, after making this new decision and writing it up to share with you, I got into bed very happy with myself and tried to fall asleep. It was a mad, windy, blustery night. There was a hot berg-wind blowing. Folks that have not experienced such a wind will need to just believe me when I say this is the most scratchy, irritating thing to experience. It's not just that there is "a wind" or that it's a hot wind on a hot night. It's not just that you are too hot to sleep and, even with no covers the sweat snakes it's way down your back. It's more than that. There is something else at play. Something undefinable that causes an irritation to rise in all those that are under it's scratchy, angry spell.  


But I had decided to be happy. I chose to just be peaceful and go to sleep. The house was creaking and the wind was howling but I just let that be. I continued trying to find my peace and go to sleep. In the midst of all this "trying to be peaceful" I realised that an irritation was arising from from my belly and snaking it’s way up my oesophagus like a heartburn. I found myself unable to focus on anything in the world other than the most desperately irritating sound of the cowl on the chimney rustily screeching and scraping as it was gusted back and forth in the wind.


I lay there fuming. I lay there cursing the wind. I lay there imaging how, in the pitch-back blustery night, I would get up on the first story roof with a ladder to reach the second story roof to climb up to the cowl with a can of oil. I raged at the irritating inadvisability of such a move. I fussed and fretted about why I had not oiled the cowl when I previously cleaned the chimney. 


I found myself in quite an aggravated state. Over a chimney cowl? No, of course not. That was just the focus. That was just what my mind latched onto. It was something much, much deeper than that. Though at that moment, deep in that night I was unable to think beyond my irritation and I was SURE all that ailed me was the goddamn cowl with it's repetitive, grating "skreeee-eek  skraaaa-eek" that seemed to fill the night.


After about two-hours of rolling around, beating up on my pillow and pretending to try to sleep, I had had enough. I got up and made a cup of tea. I disturbed Lisa so she got up too and we had a chat. And then I realised what was actually going on. This was: this was my first objection!


I had decided to be happy and, right here was a very good reason that I could not be happy. I could not tell the night to be cool. I could not tell the wind to be calm. I could not tell the cowl not to shriek. But most of all I could not tell my mind to be calm.


Realising that this was my objection was useful. I know what to do with objections. When they arise, I go back to my original decision and I choose it again. I re-iterate it to myself and see how I might transcend the objection. And so that is what I did.


I started thinking about my life and what was REALLY going on. Sure, the wind was crazy and there were too many positive ions in the air (they say too many positive ions make humans irritable and angry). Sure the night was noisy and the cowl was repetitively squeaking. But so what? I didn’t have to be anywhere the next day. I didn’t have any stressful job waiting for me that I would have to do. Whew!  “It’s all okay,” I told myself.


I got back into bed and decided to meditate. I very quickly got into a very deep meditation in which I was shown images from a past life. In that life my community was somewhat reliant on fishing for food. I saw an image in which the fishermen came back in with a pitiful catch; a few little fish in the bottom of the huge nets. I knew that we had been going hungry for lack of fish and, with this catch, we would go hungry some more. I felt angry, sad and frustrated. And hungry, of course!  I was then conscious of myself being outside of that story. I was outside of the boy on the beach. And I felt great love for him. I let him know that he would be okay. He agreed. We let go of our frustration at all these things that are outside of us that appear to be beyond our control that don't work out the way we wanted. Next I saw him eating a meal of processed seaweed and fruit (though he preferred fish, apparently he found that meal to be both pleasant and satisfying) and somewhere about then I fell asleep.

Deep, wonderful, refreshing sleep.

Amazing how a simple thing like sleep when you need it or a meal when you are hungry can seem to be a great blessing indeed.


I awoke perhaps two hours later as the rising shone in through my window. The wind was still blustering and howling but that didn’t bother me anymore. The cowl was still at it… but now it was “just a sound”. And yes it was winding up to be a stinking scorcher of a day. But so what?  I was happy!


I realise now with the full clarity of having experienced it directly for myself: it wasn't the wind, the heat or the cowl that MADE me angry frustrated and irritable. It was me. Because the only thing that changed was me and then I felt completely different. I managed to decide to be happy and then I was. I felt victimised by my external circumstances and that enraged me. Then I let that go and decided to be peaceful and happy and so I was. I, and the little boy inside me, were both frustrated with things not being as we expected... we both found a bit of acceptance and we both just decided to CHOOSE JOY.

And so I have navigated my first objection to my new decision. Will there be more objections? Assuredly! But now I’ll be keeping my eyes open for them!  I’ll let you know how it goes…