I go to yoga first thing on Monday morning – some Mondays I dread it, other Mondays I relish it; all Mondays I need it.
Recently we did something different – we went outside. “Hum, we’ll probably practice Salute to the Sun,” I thought. We’ve had our share of overcast weather, but this was a perfect day, a good day to salute the sun. Then I saw them, leaning against the building – hula hoops. My mind filled with fear, my chest constricted, my heart plunged. I have never been able to make a hula hoop spin around my waist, ever. And it’s not that I never had a waist – I did at several times in my life. Even then – no hooping. I had no illusions about my chance of success now.
But just the week before, my coach from years ago, blogged about her experience in an exercise class. Rita’s teacher had told the class, “Your body can do more than your mind thinks it can.” At that moment, with Anita handing me the hoop, I realized I was sabotaging myself before the class even started. I was telling my subconscious that I might as well not even try, and as Marga, my hypnosis therapist keeps telling me, my subconscious just takes it all in, and tries to comply.
Groan. I would have to do this – at least make a good attempt. The first few tries, the hoop tumbled to the ground as usual. But then, to my surprise and huge delight, the hoop went around two, three, four times. I was doing it! I kept it going around and around. “Look at me! Look at me!” Dianne ran for her camera phone. Minutes passed, minutes of pure joy, and hooping. Then Anita said, “Now make it go the other way.”
What? What did she say? Wait! I was just making it happen clockwise!
But I duly did as she instructed, and…I did it again! I was hooping and whooping it up big-time! I was releasing my inner child, and she was so happy.
I actually have moments like that quite often, when joy rushes into my chest, filling it to the bursting point; when I’m so happy that I laugh out loud and whoop. And I don’t care who sees me happy.
When I think back to most of my corporate life, I realize that I held myself back. Well, maybe not enough. That’s what got me in trouble. But still, I was constantly attempting to rein myself in, controlling my exuberance. I had to – I already had the reputation of always seeing the glass as not only half full, but overflowing – accused of it actually. I couldn’t chance the reputation of being optimistic AND happy.
Why is it normal, even expected, for people to walk around work, serious, single-minded, somber? Why are others suspicious if you are happy, or worse, you appear to be having fun at work?
Happiness is good. Buddha said that “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” If Buddha walked around many corporations these days, he’d likely think we could not possibly be successful, because in most cases, we don’t exude happiness. We don’t look like we love what we are doing.
I decided to change that for myself, a few years before I retired. I decided to be happy at work, at home, wherever I happened to be, and to express that happiness. I took the shackles off and it felt good. Life is too short to be unhappy.
There’s the saying, “At the end of life, no one wants to look back and realize that they worked too many hours.” I’d amend that to “Don’t look back at the end of your life and realize you worked unhappily, no matter the number of hours.”
Oh, I still have unhappy, crabby days – just ask BG and the girls. But I prefer to be happy, and when I remember to choose, I always choose happiness. Try it – try a smile right now. Better yet, laugh out loud. Infect others – laugh with them. Release the endorphins, and hold that feeling today. Ahhh!
– Joy and whoops, Diane
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