July 1, 2016, on Radical Unschooling Info, I posted:
From Dick Van Dyke's book Keep Moving:
I would have posted it and forgotten it, except that Karen James quoted this part of it:
Have a good attitude. Be able to entertain yourself.
This isn't different from what's been discussed here before, but it's just a different angle. He's talking about how to stay lively at an advanced age.
I think the essential ingredient to being joyful in life is to have stuff you enjoy doing, and then do it.
Parents of young children are rarely thinking of how to feel vibrant when they're old (if they're not old already), but here's another bonus to consider. IF you can manage to move from cynicism and critical darkness into wonder and abundance—if you can make choices that help you live lightly—your life, your partner's life, your dog's life, your neighbors' lives AND OF COURSE your children's lives will be better.
If you can find joy in being a parent, then you can enjoy doing it and it will bring you joy.
People who resist or reject joy will be rejecting the best tool they could have used to unschool well, to have longterm relationships with others, and to age gracefully.
If anyone needs help moving toward it, state your case, and many here should be able to help you.
"People who resist or reject joy will be rejecting the best tool they could have used to unschool well, to have longterm relationships with others, and to age gracefully." ~Sandra Dodd
I didn't even put it on Just Add Light and Stir, that day. Two years later, I have. :-)
|Grace and Joy|
|People who resist or reject joy will be rejecting the best tool they could have used to unschool well, to have longterm relationships with others, and to age gracefully.
photo by Amy Childs
Some of the responses to the post that first day are below.
Someone wrote: "Is it possible to reset yourself from critical to wonder? I really enjoy parenting my kids most of the time. But I don't feel like I'm fully in that space of wonder and abundance."
The long story, that day, I've saved for last here:
I've found that if I move to a place of acceptance I feel happier. I was feeling unhappy because I was judging other people's actions or inactions and then I'd feel justified in treating them 'the way they deserved'. This reaction of mine was keeping me from what I wanted most, a loving relationship. If I wanted a loving relationship with someone then I had to accept them for who they were.
I think when kids are young and you're an exhausted parent, it's hard to muster it.
When you remember to take moments to pause and appreciate what you have, it helps. It will automatically shift your thinking from one of busy, lack, and critical, to calm, abundance, and appreciation.
That shift alone can help you see wonder in life. Taking the time to smell the roses really does help. You can do that with your kids. Take time to really be present and appreciate the mundane.
I don't think it's possible in one crank of a lever to reset, but by a series of choices, lots of people have done it. :-) When you find yourself saying something negative, stop. Don't finish the entire tirade. :-)
One friend of mine requires himself and those who hang out with him to say a good thing, after they've criticized something or someone—and not a sarcastic good thing, but seriously. "So say something good about him / her / it," he says.
It might help (depends how your thinking works) to imagine negativity as pollution (of your home, environment, mood, mind) and envision it as an inky, junky darkening that will need to dissipate, or be removed. It might keep you from allowing too much of it.
And if laughter (happy laughter, not laughing for meanness, or in critical put-down of someone or of something) can be seen as cleansing, if smiling can be seen as purifying, it will be easier for you to choose words and actions that will lead to smiles and laughter, rather than those that will pollute your nest.
Making the Better Choice
I love the idea of visualizing laughter and smiling as a dissipator of negativity.
And I think repairing the unkind speech that slips out with a genuine compliment is another excellent habit to build. Thank you.
It if wasn't for this group of thinkers I would never have considered how much my sarcastic comments were hurting my children and my relationship with Jim. I grew up in a household where we all made sarcastic comments all the time. I wonder now how much sweeter and better my relationship with my family could have been had we not said so many hurtful things to one another in the name of "humor."
I can whole-heartedly attest to the truth and deep importance of this.
original topic, on facebook
I slowly lost touch with my joy over the last decade to the point that I became deeply, physically ill, with chronic fatigue syndrome. At its worst, I was completely bedbound for two months at the start of the last year.
I got out of that very awful place by doing whatever made me happy, as much as possible and as varied as possible, until my CNS stopped living in chronic fight-or-flight activation. (I followed a particular therapy and had a coach for this.)
Then I started listening to what it was I really wanted to do, dropping the many onerous rules I'd layered onto my life about how I needed to do everything perfectly, how I was supposed to make myself always available to others, how I should eat, how I needed to save the planet with every decision I made, how I should know all the answers, and on and on.
Following my joy was almost impossible at first. I had no idea what made me happy any more, in the emotional flatness I'd come to inhabit as a chronically ill person. I'd lost touch with wonder. I was coached to listen for the tiniest spark of interest, and do that thing, even if I didn't think it would really be fun and to change up and do lots of different fun things in a day, some active, some restful, some inside, some outside, some with others, some alone.
After a few weeks, that spark became brighter, the voice that said, "I want this" became clearer. It took over a year for me to feel like I was fully back in touch with that part of myself.
It is clear to me now that happiness—or the lack of it—is a deliberate practice—a cumulative impact from dozens of daily choices over days, weeks, months and years. I didn't mean to become unhappy, so disconnected from my deeper wants and needs. I just believed the many, many voices in my head about how I "should" behave until I couldn't hear my most authentic self anymore.
Choosing my own happiness didn't make me selfish, although in the beginning, I made all my choices about my own joy, on purpose, to reconnect myself with that voice and reassure my deeper mind that I would listen to it from here on out. And my family was completely supportive of that, because they understood it to be necessary for my recovery and were so happy to participate in that in any way they could.
Once my cup was refilled enough, once my deeper self knew that I wouldn't betray my own happiness anymore, it became easy for me to feel the happiness of those around me as equal to my own happiness again, and a lot of the time I choose things that will make all of us happy as often as I can find them (and I'm more creative at finding them, now).
Seeking joy is my mantra now and joy for all human beings includes feeling deeply connected to other humans and feeling creative and self-actualized, so plenty of so-called work for others gets done, but in a spirit of happy connectedness, instead of burdensome obligation.
On Facebook in March 2011, Sharon Fontaine Ashleigh posted this:
The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered "Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."
This art is by my friend Rodema Ashby (Rodema Moseley, when she did this art in 1985). She has given me permission to share it freely, for people to color. Print it to color with markers or pencils, or download it to use a computer paint program.
Click to go to the larger image.
Rejecting a Pre-Packaged Life
Peace for Unschoolers