The Joy I Missed Out On

Date

Living a Grateful and Present Life

I don’t know what to say, other than today is a great day. Today, or more precisely this very moment touches me deeply. I feel alive. Grateful. Sincere. Joyous. Peaceful. All emotions I haven’t experienced a lot in the past couple of weeks. My thoughts and mind have made life hard for me. I couldn’t seem to wrap my head around what was going on. I was doing everything I loved, yet I still felt stressed, and worried about everything to come. It even felt as if I had to achieve the world in just months. That I had to reach for the stars, but at the same time knew that I would never reach them.

I worried so much about the future, about the outcome of my current path. Whether or not I will become a best-selling author. And man, that is a scary thing to put out there into the world. Because yes this is my biggest dream, but I also feared saying it out aloud. I feared never reaching that goal, and all of it took away my pride and enjoyment in today. But right now I seem to have changed everything. My goals are clearer than ever, and my love for life has deepened yet again.

Serenity and joy are flowing through me, which is comforting me as I am writing. And I am just enjoying my writing. The clicking of the keyboard, the white screen in front of me, the sounds of the house around me. My mom talking, my sister typing on her computer. I feel the carpet underneath my feet and the manuscript of my book next to me. The tea I am drinking is slowly cooling down. And there is a gentle smile on my face. This is the joy I missed out on.

Are you alive? Or have you, just like me, missed out on the joy of living all along?

Part One: Thoughts Lure You Away

I wonder why it is that so many of us sleep through life. Like really, how could we go through life not embracing this exquisite and gorgeous adventure. And then I realize that I too have been sleeping through a large portion of my life even though I thought I wasn’t. Even though I thought I was living present. I was judging other people for sleepwalking and going on with their lives, without even looking at how I was doing in life. I was doing what I loved, I was writing, and creating videos all around the topics of mindfulness, spirituality, and mental health but in the meantime, I was struggling with my mental state.

It wasn’t too bad, so don’t get me wrong. But I was caught by the constant train of my thoughts. What most people don’t get is that our thoughts are actually the most draining things in our lives. We often think we only lose energy through people or activities but most of the time it is our thoughts during these activities that drain us. Yes, exercising drains the body, but it doesn’t drain the mind. Only thoughts drain the mind’s energy. And that’s what was happening to me. My thoughts had lured me away from the present joyous moment. Slowly draining my energy every day again. I noticed how I had thoughts of worry and doubt the moment I got up, till the moment I went to bed. I also noticed my bodily reaction to those. It got all tensed. My shoulders were lifted half the time, my belly tensed, my jaws clung together, and my heart was pounding in my chest.

I wasn’t aware of all of this. Let alone aware of the cause for all of this. Our thoughts do a lot to our state of being, and I realized that all the things we think about are things that take us away from pleasant moments. Think about it, if you think back on some happy times in your life, are you thinking thoughts, or are you visualizing the whole thing happening again? And now what happens if you think of a fight you had or a bad memory. Are you thinking thoughts, or are you visualizing them? It might just be me, but every time I think of a bad moment in my life I start to think thoughts. It’s like I am having a conversation with myself, and there is a voice inside my head talking. But when I think back on happy times I don’t think. I visualize and imagine. In other words, I see images instead of thoughts and words. That difference made me realize how thoughts lure you away from the beauty of the present moment. Always. And the beautiful memories we hold don’t involve these thoughts, because we were so present that we had no thoughts. We were simply present and felt the joy of that moment going through us.

Our wildest dreams, and most cherished memories they are all made of beautiful images in our mind. Like little movies playing inside our heads. Whereas the bad ones involve a sort of voice-over that is constantly blaming, judging, hating, and changing perspectives. That’s why we don’t mind thinking about beautiful memories and dreams but hate to think of bad times or worries about the future. It’s because these involve thoughts and a sort of inner conversation. Those thoughts and inner conversations take you out of the present moment, whereas the beautiful memories only make you enjoy the present moment more. They make you relive them, and feel what you felt again.

Part Two: The Lifeline Wrapped Around My Middle

This realization alone wasn’t enough to get me back into the present moment. It wasn’t a strong enough pull to get me out of my thoughts and into the present. For that, we will need a lifeline wrapped around our middle. Something to pull us back from the darkness of thoughts, into the light of the nowness. That lifeline was something I couldn’t seem to find. As if it was hidden somewhere that wasn’t yet available for me to uncover.

This is nothing more than an illusion because the lifeline isn’t to be found. It’s already around our waist. It’s already here, and it instantly pulls us into the present moment. To get out of our thoughts and back into the present we think we need to have some sort of practice, some sort of support that will get us out of the misery of thoughts and into the beauty of the now. That’s exactly where we go wrong. It’s so subtle that I didn’t notice it for years. But it is this

“Wanting to get out of the misery of your thoughts and into the beauty of the present is in itself a thought of discomfort and discontent. Which means that you are thinking again, and not being present.”

This is a harder one to wrap your head around. So take your time with it. But let me give you an example. As I was meditating today I felt this sort of anxiety. I knew I had to eat breakfast, and put on some clothes so that I was ready to go to work. That thought stressed me out because I was meditating instead of eating breakfast. I had plenty of time and had made sure that I had enough time to meditate. Still, I was worrying if I would make it to work in time. I then noticed this, and a new thought arose. That said to me that I had to be peaceful, and calm. I couldn’t seem to do that. I kept thinking and stressing out more and more, over the fact that I wasn’t feeling peaceful or calm. I decided to quit the meditation practice believing that the meditation wasn’t helping me to feel more at peace. What I didn’t see is that it wasn’t the meditation that was causing this, it was my thought that I had to do something else that caused the anxiety. And then that thought was followed by thinking that I had to feel peaceful. Both are thoughts. Even though meditation is often seen as a tool to be more peaceful, it will not be helpful if you think that it needs to make you peaceful.

Because thinking that meditation should make you peaceful is yet again a thought. And a thought will never make you peaceful. It is feeling, and awareness that is gonna make you feel at peace. Those are the lifelines wrapped around our middle. Those are always there. Feeling and awareness. The two ropes intertwined together to create the lifeline that can pull us straight from a dark place into the light. And you see how both aren’t attached to any outcome. Feeling and awareness are neutral. Whereas happiness and peacefulness are outcomes. They are states of being we would prefer over anger or sadness. But if happiness and peace become our outcomes we get even more wrapped up in thoughts. Because we start to think about not being peaceful or think about not being happy. When all we need to do is be aware, and feel what is going on.

Feeling in this case is the physical form of awareness. Where you notice what is going on within your body. Which sensations are going on? Whereas awareness is your internal form. It notices your emotions, thoughts, and inner state of being. Together they aline and draw us right back into the here and now. Where I noticed all the joy I had been missing out on over the past couple of years constantly worrying about things.

Part Three: The Joy of Living Present

That awareness and feeling side of us, that’s where the joy of living begins. That’s the eye-opening experience that I have been going through. To see that all this time I have been thinking instead of being and feeling. That the worry I had over my future was nothing more than thoughts and conversations going on inside my head. Those thoughts in their turn created emotions that I labeled as either bad or good. It’s all nothing more than thoughts and perspectives.

Being aware of this, which means seeing it without a label, without a thought, and without a judgment over it, opened me up to the joy of living that I have been missing. I sat down for a moment and marveled over the intricacy of a strawberry, and the taste of it. That all sounds lunatic for most people, but it’s such an incredible experience. It made me realize that everything there is on this planet is beautiful. What if we are aware, without thoughts, we start to feel and experience everything differently.

All of a sudden my emotions of anxiety and stress weren’t that anymore. They were just physical sensations. My heart pounding quickly, my chest feeling tight, and nothing more. It was the thoughts that labeled it as stress and anxiety. Which made it worse. Simply being aware dissolved those labels and now the sensations became, strangely enough, pleasant and soon after faded away. Which opened me to the peace and serenity of living.

Which is what we all want to experience. To feel such an incredible level of joy within us, that is sustained by nothing. That needs no job, no money, no specific food, or people to be sustained. That all it needs is awareness. And awareness doesn’t cost anything, it doesn’t even require any effort. It’s as simple as dropping into your body. Feeling what is going on. With that, I mean physical sensations and then notice if there are any thoughts around it. For example, is your back aching? And are there any thoughts like “I hate it when my back hurts” attached to it that make the pain into suffering? If so that’s all you need to do. You have probably already noticed that when you were aware they seemed to be less painful and discomforting.

That’s the beauty, the joy of living present. You can experience openly, with open eyes, an open heart, and an open mind. There are still thoughts, yet your awareness makes them dissolve and the lifeline around your waist pulls you back into the light continuously. This is a practice, and it takes time to strengthen this. I haven’t been experienced enough to train that muscle, so I might be finding myself thinking and worrying sometimes. That’s all just fine. Because awareness and feeling are the two friends that have showed me the joy of living presently. These two are the teachers that help me end my day and say Today I Lived. I lived through all of it!

Thanks for reading again. Be sure to leave your thoughts, or start a discussion with me via my email at daan@todayilived.com or on Instagram @today.i.lived would love to hear your experiences. See you in the next one. Enjoy your day, because today you live!

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