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The Year of Joy

January 3, 2014

4533786093_be6823f6a7_zMaybe it was the cold weather or the new year, or being stuck inside with my kids for days and days, but driving on the highway New Year’s Day, I became viscerally aware of all of my flaws.

Here’s the shortlist, in case you’re curious:

I am not always good at loving people the way they need to be loved, unconditionally, without wanting to change them.

Too often, I’m judgmental, looking for perfection or improvements rather than accepting what is.

I have a short temper, especially when I’m hormonal. (I blame a lot of problems on those mysterious, invisible orbs.) 

I too often feel wounded instead of strong.

I want to be perfect, and in my desire, severely hinder my ability to feel joy or happiness.

But as I logged all of these flaws on my car ride, I didn’t feel sad or hopeless. I felt mostly content with all I knew about myself, glad to have my shadow side revealed, grateful to have places to grow.

When I started yoga teacher training last year, the biggest emotion I kept coming up against was fear. I had so much of it. I was afraid that by looking inside myself, I’d know too much, that I’d find out things I didn’t want to know. I was afraid of the demons that lived within me. I kept fearing that soul-searching led to figuring everything out, and once I figured everything out, there would be no purpose to live anymore. God would decide it was my time to die, and I wasn’t ready for that.

Did I mention “ego” as my other flaw?

With time, though, I realized that it’s not possible to have all the answers. (Who knew?) There is always deeper to go, more to learn, progress to be made. I need to be more willing to accept the great mystery of the universe—the fact that while things may happen for reasons (or not), they do not always happen for my reasons. In other words, I don’t know everything, and I never will. Apparently, there is more on heaven and earth, Horatio, than is written in my philosophy. That’s where faith has to come in.

What’s beyond fear, I also learned, is not all that bad, but you only discover that when you’re brave. Ignoring and denying what’s inside of you—whether you consider those emotions and characteristics “good” or “bad”—is like putting chains around happiness. Yet the journey of looking inward usually leads to a life filled more with beauty, kindness, pleasure. Still, make no mistake—happiness is hard work.

In previous years, I’ve picked a word to focus on for the year, a small intention that can help me grow closer to that happiness. In the past it’s been acceptance, or forgiveness, or detachment. This year, I decided, it’s going to be joy. I’ve already sought out the wounds, the demons, the shadows and ghosts. Now it’s time to take in the part that’s pure and help it grow.

What’s your word for the new year?


Image: “Nature” by Doug88888 via Flickr using a Creative Commons license.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristin January 3, 2014 at 3:51 pm

One of my favorite verses, “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thes. 5:16-18

We are very similar. I need this verse every day. I wish you nothing, but JOY.


Nina January 5, 2014 at 2:07 pm

I say this one somewhere else and wish I remember where, but my word is PACE– as in, stay at a reasonable one.


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