Giving in to more joy

choice feeling flow joy Feb 23, 2019

While I was skiing this week, I experienced a hint of thought pattern transformation, from judgment to enjoyment.

As I tentatively made my way down a hill, hearing the oh-so-familiar thought pattern running through my mind, “I’m not a good skier. I wonder what my family and others are thinking about me as they watch me. I hope they’re not watching. I’ll never be a good skier. It’s not my thing...”, a new thought popped in: maybe I am holding myself back from enjoying the experience.

I never thought about that before, in this context. Maybe the constant monologue designed to keep me in fear and judgment was a form of resistance to experiencing joy. 

Could I find joy in the experience of skiing? Could I allow myself to enjoy the activity? Never seemed like an option before. I went into the activity with resistance, nearly two decades ago: “I’m only doing this because my husband wants to do it. I wouldn’t choose this on my own accord.” And thus began what I am now seeing as an exertion of will.

As I skied this week, really in just the last day of it, I experienced moments of clarity: it is my will that is keeping me from experiencing joy right now. I am resisting a sense of enjoyment.

At that, I let the barriers down. I remembered that there is ever only one choice to make: to go with the flow or against it. Here I was, strapped into this gear heading down a slippery slope – I could choose to go with the flow or against it. There were a couple of instances that followed in which I actually enjoyed the moment, feeling myself present with the activity, appreciating the mountain and the opportunity to experience movement upon it.

Wow! That felt different. It felt like clarity, like freedom.

Did that feeling last? No, but I tasted it. And now I feel more anchored in my power to choose. That is, while I can’t stop the thoughts that pop into my mind, I can choose what to do with them, and which ones to milk.

The next time I go skiing, or find myself in a situation in which I believe I did not choose, my intention is to look for barriers I have put up against the experience of joy. Am I resisting enjoyment? And if so, to what end?

Where in your life could you give in to more joy?

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it.
—Mary Oliver


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