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“Hell is a self-created prison in my mind, but when I actively look for things to be grateful for, I find an unending supply of magnificence and joy.”  ~ Jana Joy ~

It’s so easy to get caught up in whatever drama is playing out in our lives.  We get completely worked up in anger, sadness or fear.  We place all our attention on it and nurture it until it grows into an enormous, all-consuming beast.  When we focus on what’s not going the way we want, when we’re caught up, hooked, looking at the world through shit-coloured glasses, it’s easy to miss all the beauty and love around us.

I’ve been so depressed at times in my life that I couldn’t even muster the energy to get out of bed.  I’ve been caught up in so much rage, I couldn’t conjure up one iota of compassion for another.  I’ve been paralysed by fear so real, I believed it might actually kill me.  I’ve been to hell and back and I can tell you one thing for sure…. Hell is a self-created prison in my mind.

I know that last statement is going to ruffle some feathers.  The idea that we’re not responsible for the state of our own minds is a seductive one.  It felt quite natural to blame my genes, my parents, the government, or any external thing for the circumstances of my life.  My life happened to me.  I wasn’t an active participant in the creation of it.

How could I have been so foolish in believing this nonsense?  Because I thought it was the easier way through life.  I was always looking for an easy answer, a short cut, a way in which I could do as little work as possible, yet still avoid all those “bad” feelings.  Why put in the hard yards when I could simply take a pill, get drunk, scoff down some biscuits, or go shopping?? Unfortunately, these were all temporary distractions and never provided any lasting relief from the pain.  True, sustainable happiness was only going to come when I took responsibility for the state of my mind.

The first step was to recognise the power of perception.  How I perceived the world around me was very telling.  If I determined that the world was a cruel and miserable place, I was guaranteed a miserable life.  It’s a real act of discipline, sometimes, to stop wallowing in self-pity.  But when I actively look for things to be grateful for, I find an unending supply of magnificence and joy.

So why not use this power for my benefit as opposed to my destruction?  Seems logical, right?  We’re funny creatures, we humans.  When I give my dog a treat, she is only focused on the joy of that treat.  I doubt she’s angry about the treat she was denied yesterday or worried she won’t get a treat tomorrow.  We can learn a lot from animals about being completely present in the moment.

When I am present and full of gratitude, I can only experience joy.  It’s that simple.  If I practise this every day, it will become the new habitual response and my level of happiness will increase exponentially and sustainably.

What are you grateful for today?

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