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This Poem by Mary Oliver might very well be my Favourite One Ever.

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Do you ever explore your relationship with joy? As in, how do you feel about feeling happy?

Do you welcome happiness into your life with arms wide open? Does it feel easy? Or does it bring up feelings of guilt? Does happiness feel too good to be true? Does it bring up feelings of fear that something must then go wrong? Do you feel deserving of happiness?

The reason I ask this question is that I believe a lot of humanity has a complex relationship with joy. I know I definitely did in the past. I remember having this talk with some friends in high school. We were having a good laugh over something and one of them asked, “Why does it feel so much easier to hold onto sadness and worry, than happiness? I almost feel guilty for feeling happy!” Surprisingly (or not) we all agreed, and I remember thinking, “Ahh…it’s not only me that feels this way then.”

Interestingly, human beings tend to be wired more toward negativity and pessimism. A lot of it is societal conditioning. We are really, really, really good at worrying! Bills, relationships, kids, ill health, safety, careers…the list is never-ending.

Let’s get really honest: how many times do we really feel joy on a day-to-day basis? What about worry? I bet most people will answer that they feel worry more often than joy.

Unfortunately, the systems in place are also designed to keep us on a lower vibration (fear, scarcity, worry, lack), though that is a deep, big topic for another day.

We humans also tend to expect the worst outcomes in situations; we expect things to go wrong rather than right. It is almost like a protective mechanism: if things go wrong at least we won’t be disappointed; it was to be expected anyway! If we expect things to go right or amazingly well, there is always the fear that we will then be disappointed, and nobody wants that.

Because we are a society that is always on the go, it can feel impossible to just “live in the moment.” To just be. We are either thinking and stressing about what is coming next (future) or dwelling on what has gone wrong in the past. This is a really hard way to live.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when it feels as though life is a struggle, I turn to words. Words soothe me, heal me, they remind me that I am not alone. They have the power to make me think differently, to change my perspective.

I have always been a fan of poetry. Mary Oliver is one of my favourite poets, and I can’t believe I only became familiar with her work a year or two ago! Mary was an American poet who wrote mostly about nature and the natural world. Her poems are not too “fancy.” They are rather simple and delicate, which is why I love them so much.

There is one poem (I would perhaps call it a prose-poem really) of hers which really stood out to me. In fact, it may be my favourite poem ever. I will share it here. It touches upon the topic of humanity’s relationship with joy:

“If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happened better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb. (Don’t Hesitate)”

So simple but so powerful!

I adore it so much that I printed it and stuck it on my bedroom mirror so that I can read it every morning. It is such a powerful reminder that we should not deprive ourselves of joy. Our natural state of being is joy. It is such a shame that so many of us lose that magical, wonderful, innocent, pure joy we often felt as children.

We can’t let the past dictate our futures. Let us remember to live and to feel joy. To play, to experience pleasure, and ease and calmness and well-being. This is not easy at first as we tend to be hardwired toward negativity, but baby steps every day are key. We should try to make time for happiness. We deserve it. It is our birth right!

Remember:

Joy is not meant to be a crumb.

So eat it, devour it, swallow it, and enjoy it to its fullest (as we damn well should).

~

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