The Business of Bringing People Joy
Writing that post On Wanting and Being Content made me think more about appreciation. To be more specific, it made me think more about the aspect of expressing appreciation, and what role it plays in the entire process of getting what we want.
I have noticed that when it comes to attracting good things into my life, they come easily when I am putting very little (or rather: very light) energy into the thought of wanting them. Almost as if I am not even really aware I want them. It’s like the thought „Oh, this would be nice“ just kind of flies by, and I only remember it when I suddenly receive whatever it was I thought would be nice.
For instance, a friend posted something on Facebook about how she had gathered so much burlap that she was able to make 6 lbs of pesto from it. That friend was nowhere in my vicinity at that time, so when I commented how cool I thought that was and how much I loved burlap, it was not a subtle way of inviting myself over for dinner. I just wrote what I thought. A few days later, another friend came to visit. She brought me a bunch of burlap. Yes, I know, it’s technically possible that she saw my comment (she didn’t mention it, though).
Still, it felt like the lightness with which I had expressed my appreciation of burlap had kind of send out a message, and someone who was in charge of bringing people joy had just picked it up, and thought „Oh, here’s someone who shows appreciation of burlap. We’re in the business of bringing people joy, so let’s send this lady some burlap.“
Maybe this all sounds very silly because, seriously, who gets that excited about burlap?! I know, but here’s what I believe: when we are able to wish for something with lightness, it’s easy to have that wish fulfilled. I believe that whoever is in charge of this Business of Bringing People Joy likes it when we ask for things out of a state of „This would bring me joy but my life’s happiness is not dependent on it. If you can do it, it would make me happy – but I’ll still be happy if it doesn’t work out“. That’s why it’s so easy to have those seemingly small and not very significant wishes fulfilled – because those are the ones I am capable of sending out there with that kind of lightness. Like expressing that I enjoy burlap.
When it comes to The Big Ones however … Not so easy maintaining that sort of attitude, that’s why they are The Big Ones, right? They are the wishes we feel are important, the ones our happiness depends on. So is the reason why it’s harder to have those fulfilled that the folks at The Business of Bringing People Joy don’t like it when we pressure them with desperate requests? Maybe they don’t like it when we burden them with the claim that our entire life’s happiness is dependent on our satisfaction with a specific order we placed? Maybe. Here is what I believe:
I believe that the communication between us customers and folks at the BBPJ is off a little sometimes. OK: a lot, and like, all the time. And like with any order we place with any company these days, we click on the button that says „Yes, I agree to the terms of service“ without actually reading the fine print. Because, seriously, who has time for that?! We just kind of trust that it’ll be alright. And it is. After all, it’s The Business of Bringing People Joy. However, if we did bother to open the file with the terms of agreement we’d find out it’s actually not that much, and the rules are very simple:
1. You get exactly what you ask for. To the t. Because the employees at the BBPJ are a very literal bunch, and they would get into serious legal trouble if they gave you anything you hadn’t asked for.
2. Your order is not just the words you use, it’s also the emotions behind it. And again: they take you very literally. If there is ease behind your request, you get your order with ease. If there is pressure in it, pressure is what you get. And so forth. You get it.
3. Maybe you’ve heard that if you want to remember something, you should tell yourself „Remember to do xyz“ because if you tell yourself „Don’t forget xyz“ you’ll actually forget because the mind doesn’t really know how to compute the words „don’t“ and „not“, and just skips them. The BBPJ works just like that. They don’t understand the words „not“ and „don’t“, so they just skip them. So always use positive descriptions to place your order. For instance: instead of saying „I don’t want more burlap“, place an order that states what it is you want instead.
4. And, the most important rule of communication: you place your order by thinking and through your actions. Your orders are prioritized, that’s why not every single thought and every single action is being answered right away. It’s all about focus. To the employees at the BBPJ „focus“ is „appreciation“. They assume that you want more of whatever it is your focusing on, so naturally those orders have top priority. Again, they take the emotions behind your focus into consideration when processing your order. That is why customers who seemingly place similar orders may receive services/products of varying quality.
On Wanting and Being Content
„It’s all here“, is what my Lemurian crystal keeps telling me. It’s an important message for me these days. I often feel that I already have everything I need to be happy. Of course, I don’t feel it all the time. Wanting, wishing, and striving for something – those are all part of us, too, and it’s completely natural.
However, it’s becoming clearer and clearer to me that there is something strained and strenuous to the wanting I often feel. It comes from a place of not being good enough, and not from the pure joy of creating something. I see this as a great indicator for whether my actions are „good“ in the sense that they support what I am really striving for (happiness! spreading joy!). For it’s not so much the action itself but rather the intention behind it which determines the outcome. Anything I do out of a feeling of not being good (enough), of „just a little more, and then …“ – those only lead to one thing: more of the same feeling, more „not good (enough)“, more „just a little more, and then …“.
Gratitude on the other hand, meaning the appreciative recognition of what already is in this moment, is a very powerful tool for attracting more good.
For instance, I recently noticed how much I have always loved music. I still wouldn’t say I am a good singer, but somehow there was this moment where I could admit to myself that I do enjoy singing. Suddenly I find myself in here in Amritabha where singing Bhajans is a weekly occurrence. Moreover, this is exactly the form of singing that suits me, for when it comes to Bhajans it’s not about talent. It’s about devotion. It’s easy to excuse yourself from anything when you can say „Oh, I’m no good at singing“. It’s more difficult however to claim „Oh, I am not good at singing passionately“. And is it possible to do poorly at something when you are passionate about what you’re doing? I guess I’ll find out soon …
If it’s not about earning something through your achievements (your right to exist, e. g.) but about the joy we find in doing something, and yes, praising God with that joy, then this is true: not being able to do something is no reason not to do it. (Those words of wisdom are not mine, btw. It’s ALF who said that – a childhood hero of mine, and when I think about it, a true master of making joy and ease the point of living.)
It’s all here. We’re already taken care of. Thus, we are free to do everything from a place of joy, and free to devote ourselves to the task at hand without worrying whether what we do is good enough. Honing our skills and mastering a craftsmanship will then come simply from doing and the time we put in, from the appreciation of what we already have and know. It can never come from the pressure of forcing ourselves to do anything, or the sense that we are not doing well enough.
As some of you know, I have lived a pretty secluded life over the past few years. House on the Swedish countryside, no internet at home, limited cell phone use, long distances to my friends and not very travel-friendly (or super travel-friendly, depending on how you look at it – pretty much every outing was a trip in its own rights).
I am grateful for the experience. It taught me to appreciate and value things I didn’t use to pay much attention to – or that I even used to avoid. Being close to nature. Being alone with myself without any distractions. Stillness, both on the outside and within me.
On my good days, I could appreciate the gift that this period of my life was, even then. On my bad days, I hated that I didn’t have a choice.
If I allowed myself to give up my resistance and surrender to what it was I would have wanted to distract myself from, I always came out on the other side being thankful for it. I don’t know if I’d had the strength to make myself do that if I’d had a choice.
More often than not I was glad to have an excuse to switch my phone off and not be available all all the time. I found that I am not as adverse to being outdoors as I thought I was, moreover: I discovered the deep feeling of connection to all living things that you only experience when you find yourself fully immersed in the beauty of nature. There’s no cell phone plan for that.
Having gone through those experiences, especially through my own resistance, I can see how I benefit from them now that I am in a different place, where I suddenly do have all those choices I wanted so badly back then.
I can actually feel the need to go outside and find a place where I feel close to nature because I know now that these are places where I connect with myself. I can feel the need to turn my computer and phone off at a certain point during the day. I am not afraid anymore of missing out if I’m not connected to social media 24/7. I understand now that when the feeling arises that I am losing touch with myself, the answer is never to be found outside of myself, in distraction. I always find it by turning inwards, towards whatever shape that feeling comes in. It may be triggered by my mind getting hung up on something someone said, or something I read somewhere that struck a chord.
Therefore I continue to be grateful for knowing the place where the lack of choices forced me to turn to the only thing that was left: facing myself. Now that I am in a place again where I have many options, this makes it easy for me to choose.
Facing ourselves, tackling that resistance even when we technically don’t have to, when we could distract ourselves, is always worth it. For all the things we try to avoid seeing in and about ourselves lead to great treasures.
Living the country life
I am back from another trip. More inspired than ever! I do apologize, though, to certain friends (Lisa, you know who you are) who worried my offline-ness might translate to „something bad happened“.
Note to self: in the time and age of „There is no offline, there is only away from keyboard“, announce any awol from the virtual life (technically, is it „awl“ then?). At least for as long as there is no way to virtually transmit the bad smell coming from your apartment that might alarm your neighbors – who might not even care since you live in one of those anonymous big city shoe boxes – but not the ones who do care but don’t live close by. Another note to self: keep notes to self short…ish.
Anyway. Peter and I were visiting a friend who lives the way we hope to do one day – somewhere on the Swedish countryside, growing lots of her own food, with no stupid electro smog. There was no internet. It was beautiful. Not because or despite that fact. It just was. Although we were only there from Thursday through Tuesday, this trip was a real learning and healing experience – most of all, unsurprisingly, about myself; my current state (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, … in any way) as well as my wishes for my future.
I realized that …
- … a life closer to nature and more self-sufficient is not only what I imagine I want. It is what I do want.
- … the difference between life in the city and on the countryside is not to be underestimated. My body had a hard time adjusting to physical labor (which does not always allow for ergonomic execution), my mind had a hard time accepting that I/we took so many breaks. I felt very unproductive, although our host did not express any such complaints – or any complaints at all. Here at home I want to get through with everything I have to do as quickly as possible, there you spread out the (more physically exhausting) work over the entire days, take it slow, take time for conversations, contemplation, simply being.
- … I am especially unhappy with my job here at home.
- … the difference between the life I am currently leading, and the life I want is huge. I had an episode of deep depression the second day when I realized that gap. I had no idea how I should get from one to the other, and this uncertainty scared and frustrated me. I still don’t know but I am hopeful now.
When we came home I was excited to see if any of the seeds I had sown had grown anything during our absence. The score: two tomato plants are sprouting and I can see the beginning of morning glory.