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From a Flickering Candle to an Eternal Flame

Ten Steps to Using Positive Emotion to Keep the Light of Joy Burning in Your Life

Ten Steps to Using Positive Emotion to Keep the Light of Joy Burning in Your Life
Ten Steps to Using Positive Emotion to Keep the Light of Joy Burning in Your Life

All emotion is positive emotion. When we are feeling something it is because we are alive. To be alive is a gift. This chance we have to be here now is one that is unique to each of us, and that we are able to feel the experience, is a wonder.

It may not always seem that way, especially when we are in the grip of fear, grief, pain or anger but all emotion is a privilege and is to be welcomed as an honoured guest. It is the running away from the discomfort, or the pushing it down, that leaves us stuck or makes us numb to the incredible joy of being alive.

For me, joy is not one of the positive emotions. If emotion is a river then, for me, joy is the river bed. It is the sense of being alive, full of possibility, of not knowing what will happen on our journey but being wholeheartedly involved in the ride of our life. This is what I feel when I am able to separate myself from my emotions, in those brief glimpses when I am pure awareness. I know that I have a sensation but am not attached to it, merely watching it with curiosity, wondering what it is telling me about where I could step next.

But how do you move out of discomfort? Without throwing things in temper or screaming in pain, without overeating, drinking alcohol or taking pills to suppress the emotion, how do you nudge yourself and fill your life with the light

  1. The first step I would advise is not to block any emotion, to learn to step away from it and be interested. Where is it in your body? What shape is it? What is it doing to your breath? Does it have a colour? What do you want to do as a result of it? As you will see this leads to a sense of curiosity, inviting the positive emotion, interest, into your view of this discomfort.
  2. Next I would ask you to lean into that emotion, let it take its full expression and move through you as energy asking to be experienced. This may be something you can do with someone else alongside you or alone. The idea is not to throw your discomfort into another’s lap but to own it as your own, expressing it through your voice, your body, your tears. As the energy subsides and catharsis arrives you may feel a sense of serenity suffuse your being.
  3. In this state of calm awareness it would be wonderful to walk in the open air. As you do so look up at the sky and know, however cloudy it may be, that beyond its temporary covering is a vast universe stretching many millions of miles away. That sky is filled with billions of galaxies, the lights from distant stars still reaching us many years after their death. This may incite awe in you, it certainly does in me, especially when I picture those colourful swirling swarms of stars way beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.
  4. Let this wonder inspire you to wish upon a star for the realisation of a dream of your own. Take that inspiration and set to work planning how you will create something unique and beautiful that leaves an imprint of you on the world you inhabit.
  5. Bathe your plan in the light of hope that your dreams may come to pass. This will give you the resilience you need to work on crafting that plan and bringing it into being, step by (sometimes painful) step.
  6. Take pride in each tiny success you have as you bring your creation into being, whether it is a work of art, a piece of writing, a home, a business or a nurtured relationship. It is not easy to create, it asks us to bring to it all that we are, our strength and our vulnerability. To be bold enough to embrace creativity is worthy of celebration.
  7. If things are not going as you wanted or expected find humour in your situation. You may find something to laugh at in your own struggles to attain a new skill. I certainly laughed a lot about my first attempts at sound production, having so little idea about how things worked that I’d ordered various magical boxes but no leads to attach them to each other or my computer. This lightness and willingness to be a little ridiculous, to not know everything, to be a beginner is a helpful antidote to our weighty and overbearing sense of responsibility.
  8. As you find ways to overcome these hurdles and move closer to your goal be grateful that you have found the resources you need to make this happen. Take time to recognise those who have helped you as you have made progress and the experiences that have made the process enjoyable.
  9. Share your creation with someone you love and bask in the ability to give of yourself with love. Let yourself recognise that love is infinite, you can never run out of it. In fact the more of it you give away, the more you find yourself receiving. It is not something to be jealously guarded, it is a treasure you want everyone to take from you.
  10. As you take each breath along the way, give yourself a chance to rest in awareness that you have this opportunity to be here now, to dive fully into the mystery of life and allow your body to be filled with the simple joy of existence.

These ten simple steps allow you to make joy the eternal flame you carry with you through all the challenges of your life. We cannot avoid the things that would plunge us into darkness but we can steadfastly continue to burn with a gentle and persistent light, brought into existence by the life itself.

Looking back on these steps and on my previous blog consider the following:

  1. Is your happiness level allowing you to thrive? Is it around or above 3 positive emotions to 1 negative emotion? What is your ratio, according to Barbara Fredrickson’s questionnaire, over the past two weeks: POSITIVITY RATIO.
  2. How is your gratitude practice going? Have you noticed it having any effect on your general sense of happiness?
  3. Are there any of the positive emotions that you feel are missing in your life? Is there a simple step you can take to invite more of it in? I found that humour was not as prevalent as I would like so every day I look for something that makes me laugh and try to savour it.

If you enjoyed reading this blog come and join me in my Facebook group Inspiring Thriving and let me know how you are getting on.

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