For any of you who were in any of my classes this week the recurring theme was joy. Finding joy in your practice and bringing that joy to life.
Last week while surfing the MLS listings (local real estate listings) I found the house of my dreams. The house was built in 1912, had three stories and was blue. It backed on to a river and had a huge back yard. In front was an old cemetery. Some would find that a bit creepy but I personally find comfort in cemeteries, not sure why. The pictures on the MLS listing were amazing. High ceilings amazing wood floors and three full bathrooms, two soaking tubs and a beautiful kitchen. The front porch had huge concrete pillars and was again large and inviting. The location was a quiet small town just outside of Ottawa, perfect for my kids.
So off we went to check it out. My dream house started to crash before my eyes. The beautiful blue colour of the exterior showed to be massively peeling and in need of a paint job. The "new" windows were in fact exterior storm windows and many of the interior windows had been painted shut. The well maintained floors had holes in them, so big in fact that my realtor put her foot through one that was covered up by a carpet. The fully renovated kitchen was fully renovated about 15 years ago and the bathrooms a do it your self job that would need some careful inspection and repair. The closets were crumbling from the inside out and the ceilings were badly patched. The electrical looked to be a nightmare as well. The small porch off the side and large deck off the back were partially finished and in need of repair already. The graveyard was quiet and quaint but I wouldn't be living in there and the river was green. When all was said in done, my dream house in a small little town needed about $150K more in renovations and the asking price was already top of budget.
When I came home it made me realize that my house is pretty good. It needs some work and will eventually need some updating but it is fine for now. All of this made me start to question what people want. I honestly thought that this "dream" house would make me happy. If I could only live there in the very inexpensive 5 bedroom home I would be happy. I started to question what do people want.
My classes this last week started just like that. What do people want? I think when it all comes down to it we all just want to be happy. We need to find joy. The sad part is that most of us are looking in the wrong places. We think that more money, a bigger house, a better job, nicer clothes, a fancier car or a different partner will make us happy. The reality is that happiness comes from the inside out. If we find what brings us joy. If we practice doing the things that make us truly happy then the rest will just come. In some forms of physical practice we practice letting go. This letting go is not instant gratification. For example you can just say "I want to let go of this hurt feeling" and it's gone for good. You will sometimes need to do it over and over and then one day you might look for it and it is gone. If we practice letting go of negativities on the mat it becomes easier to let go off the mat. Things in your life that don't give you joy become easier to "get rid of" because you do it from a place of joy and not a place of anger. At least that's what I think. For the most part I am one of the happiest people I know so I do know a little bit about it.
Being joyful or being happy is a practice in itself. I was once told that I was one of those people who could find themselves stuck living in a cardboard box and I would still be happy. I am not sure if that's true but I've been in some pretty impoverish situations and was still able to make the best of it. Still able to find joy. It's all about perspective. Why hold on to negativity - what does it serve, it certainly doesn't make you happy. The happier I get, the happier I feel but it does take work sometimes. That's not to say I don't get grumpy, frustrated or want more I do, but these periods are few and far between. Basically I am still happy.
Coming back to the want. I wanted the dream house I craved the dream house and when I got there it was no longer my dream. Be careful what you wish for. The things that you look to to make you happy or happier might not actually do what you think they will. So find that place of joy first and the rest is just gravy. Be happy with what you already have, who you already are, then if there are things you notice that don't make you happy change them - there is always a way. But find the joy inside first, let it radiate out.
Jennifer is an RMT, long time yoga practitioner and teacher. Follow her musings as an RMT, yoga teacher, prenatal educator and mother of three.