Politics and Joy

This is an oxymoron for me, as I have never enjoyed politics at all.  But, with such an intense and enduring election in USA, with a shocking result, it seems necessary to be able to find some joy somehow.  So, I dug deep.  I realized that most people’s default setting is that someone or something -like government- will help them.  Or we need someone or something to blame when things aren’t going how we like.  Or sometimes we use people or situations to distract us from our own issues.  All convenient but not accurate, nor helpful. (Disclaimer: Yes, of course, government programs and actions do help and serve many people.  But we cannot become dependent on anything or anyone outside of ourselves to live our lives for us.)

The truth is that we are the creators of our own lives.  That’s painful to acknowledge when things aren’t going how we’d like.  Yet, we hold the key to our thoughts and feelings.  And our thoughts and feelings create our realities. So, how was I expecting the government to help me, how was I blaming the government for what I didn’t like about my own reality, or how was I using this situation to distract me from my own issues?   In other words, how was I not taking ownership of my own life?

The morning after the election, my knee was hurting badly for no apparent physical reason.  Checking in my Louise Hay, You Can Heal Your Life book, I am reminded that knee problems have to do with pride, stubbornness, inflexibility and not giving in.  Ooooh, I had been stubborn, to say the least, about seeing how the president-elect could be beneficial.  I was being inflexible about how I believed he was selfish, disingenuous, and uncaring (among other less nice characteristics).  I certainly know that agonizing over bad aspects of anyone or anything is never, ever a good thing.  (I had to re-read this post.)  This case is no exception.

Because of this knowledge and the hope that I would find relief for my aching knee, I opened up to try to find one thing about him that wasn’t awful.  I found it!  He doesn’t care what people think of him.  Which is a trait I exceedingly cherish and try to have.  I mean, that’s my life’s work – to be me regardless of other people’s opinions.  (Disclaimer #2: This does not mean that I want to do the same actions as him.  We have different values and want different things.  I’m just talking about the not living life based on needing the good opinion of other people part.)  From there, I found a couple other aspects that weren’t terrible.

I felt some relief now and realized how much energy goes into hating.  With the respite, another level of information came to me:  This has to be something to do with me directly.  I don’t even know him and I’m not into politics, so why is this bothering me to this extent?  I realize it’s not even what he says, but his general mannerisms that irritate me so much.

Then it hits me like a ton of bricks. He reminds me of someone I know.  Someone I had issues with.  Not just annoyance but deep issues from childhood.  I thought I had already dealt with these issues.  But now I see that even though I had become aware of them and forgave the person, I never opened the gift.

The gift is all the wonderful lessons we learn, how we evolved because of it, and noticing the good that came or could come from it.

As is customary after receiving a gift, we thank the giver.  Closure cannot come without acknowledging and thanking the person.  Without opening and giving gratitude for the gift, the issue just sort of lingers and lurks about waiting for our acceptance.  So, I thoroughly went over this issue from childhood and found the good in it and felt genuine gratitude to the persons involved.

The point of this post isn’t that everyone has a personal issue related to a political representative.  But the idea is that we have the power in our own lives.  It’s our choice how we feel, react, and respond to whatever is going on around us, whether it be in our own house, the country, or the world.  Are we going to love or hate?   Are we going to live in courage or fear?  It’s a personal choice of which we have full power.

Second point, it’s always beneficial to not dwell in fear and negativity.  When we look for the positive and good in all situations, absolutely including politicians we don’t agree with, when we stop playing the I’m- better-than and the blame game, then we give ourselves a chance to feel relief, love, and joy.  And from here, we get all kinds of things we want.  Maybe even a politician hearing us.

We can’t be full of hate and negativity and expect to see a loving, positive world.  Through each of our own individual attitudes of love and peace, the world will reflect that.

Get Out of the Comfort Zone

In my Deliberate Joyful Activities post, I wrote about the necessity of deliberately putting joyful activities on our to-do lists.  These are things we know ahead of time are enjoyable and fun for us.  But if we just keep doing what we always do, eventually we will feel like our lives have leveled off or gotten in a rut.  So it is important to also do things outside of our comfort zones.

Getting out of our comfort zones can increase joy.  Maybe not during the activity because we are in unfamiliar territory and have fear of the unknown.  But, afterwards we find that getting out of our routines and limited experiences can be stimulating.  It expands our horizons which creates personal growth.  And when we grow, we are joyful.  It is known that cells in our bodies continually change.  If they do not change, the body would die.  The same is true for us mentally and emotionally.  If we stagnate too long, we die mentally and emotionally, as well.  We must change and grow to thrive.

Also, facing and conquering what is unfamiliar to us or what we are fearful of, makes us feel empowered.  We learn, first-handedly, that we no longer have to shrivel when confronted with a fear or unfamiliar circumstance.  In not becoming immobile from the fear, we then feel limitless. Fear cannot hold us back from anything.

Challenges, out of comfort zone experiences, and facing fears – after we do these types of things then the next one seems easier.  It’s like exercising – when we work out and do, say, arm curls with 10 pound weights, then the 5 pound weights seem easier.  Or when we run fast one day, the next time we do a slow jog or walk it seems so easy.  The same would be true for yoga – the more we practice yoga, the easier it is and better we are at the same pose the next time.  Conditioning ourselves works for mental/emotional aspects just as it does for our physical bodies.

Recently when I was doing a bunch of out-of-my-comfort-zone things consecutively, I was overcome with anxiety.  But then I remembered, when I am out of my comfort zone, I am going to feel, at the very least, uncomfortable…it’s the very meaning of the phrase!  Just because I feel uncomfortable or anxious, does not mean I should stop reaching for my true self and growing.  Michael A. Singer writes in, The Untethered Soul, “Going beyond always means letting go of the effort to keep things within your defined limits…..You used to pull back when it got uncomfortable.  Now you relax and go past that point.”  I agree with this and I also keep in mind that before I can relax and go past my comfort zone, I must have my foundation of self-worth.  (Click here for a refresher on increasing self-worth.)

We also can use this idea for situations that we don’t necessarily choose that get us out of our comfort zones.  Like when something new and we don’t like comes at us, like our job description unexpectedly changes, or we have an unplanned move due to a spouse’s job, or an unforeseen relationship breakup.  The term “growing pains” isn’t just about physical growth.  It applies to mental, emotional, spiritual growth too.  It sometimes hurts to grow and there’s no way around it.  But, knowing we will grow and will get something out of it, while the change is happening, may not make it feel any less uncomfortable or scary, but it surely will help us deal with it better.  It will give us hope and make us aware there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  This may be all we need to make it through the unfamiliar patch.

What are you going to deliberately do out of your comfort zone today?