Hey guys! It’s Dad,
You know that I want nothing more for each of you than to see you living a joy filled life. What’s kind of crazy though is that most people don’t learn how to create joy in their lives until they’re much older. I’m hoping that, with a little deeper understanding of happiness, I can help you recognize how to bring joy into your own lives long before I did! Goodness knows, it took me a long time to be truly happy, but now that I found some of the secrets I want to help you guys cut to right to the chase and truly start living joy filled lives!
In Chinese philosophy, Yin and Yang is a sort of graphic representation of how two very different or even opposite forces can work together to create harmony and balance in our lives. You’ve probably seen it before. It’s a circle design with a swirls of black and white that wrap around each other. One side is black with a white dot in the middle. The other side is white with a black dot. The point is that the amount of black and white within the design is exactly equal. It’s perfectly balanced. Balance is a key element of every joy filled life.
The idea for this blog came to me when we had just left Mexico. We were on our cruise, playing games, watching movies, eating, laughing a lot, and really feeling pretty pampered. Of course this was in sharp contrast to how we felt in Ensenada. You guys had never seen anything like Ensenada before. It was pretty run down. It was rough looking. It certainly wasn’t the comfortable suburban environment that you are accustomed to, with big houses and a Starbucks on every corner. We had just gotten back onto the ship, feeling anxious and a bit exhausted, when Jeffrey said,
“Whew! This is awesome! I’m glad we’re back on the ship. It’s almost like home! Watching Bazaardvark and eating snacks. Just chillin’!”
When we were back on the boat, you knew that you were safe and secure. You were comfortable. You were certain about your surroundings. Even though we were away from home, you felt safe; something absolutely vital to a joy filled life. You had certainty.
When you’re home, and you know that you have food in the fridge, clean clothes in your drawers, and a safe warm bed, you know that your safe. You’re certain that you’re safe.
This next bit is where so many folks miss the mark. True: Yes, we all need certainty. We can’t thrive without it. But there is an equal and opposite factor that we must accept if we are to truly recognize joy in our lives. We need to experience uncertainty. We need to “not know.” We’ve got to wonder what’s next. We’ve got to be fearful, even anxious. We need to feel those chemicals naturally releasing in our bodies…to wake us up!
Think about times in your young lives when these feelings and thoughts completely took over your mind:
Are we going to get lost?
Are we lost now?
Is this going to hurt?
Am I going to be OK?
Can I do it?
And on and on. These thoughts and feelings serve two really important purposes:
1) They provide opportunities for physical and emotional growth. Maybe we didn’t think we were ready, but we were. Maybe we though we couldn’t…and we were right. We couldn’t! Maybe we though, “I’m ready! I’ve got this.” and we did. This is how we grow. We never grow when times are easy. That’s not how growth works. We grow as a result of struggles, of trials, of challenges.
2) These thoughts and feelings also provide a dramatic and necessary contrast to the comfort and complacency of our certainty-filled lives. These thoughts are the fuel of the moment. These uncertainties shape us into who we will become, and when we don’t back down from these uncertainties…they will shape us into who we want to become.
You might be thinking,
“Bud Dad, these are the kinds of things that stress me out! I don’t want to be lost, or hurt!”
Of course you don’t. I don’t want you to be lost or hurt either. But it’s really important to recognize that there are two types of stress: Distress, which is bad stress caused by things that are out of our control…and Eustress, which is caused by the anticipation of the unknown. It’s a thrilling exhilaration. It’s something you might feel inside right before you take the stage to dance in front of an audience, or before a playoff game, or before you go on a roller-coaster.
Sometimes I get the most powerful messages from the stupidest places, and this one is a good one. Years ago, I was watching an adult cartoon called Beevis and Butthead. Something bad happened on the show and Beevis was really upset. That’s when Butthead said…
“Hey Beevis. Um…If nothing ever sucked…ha ha ha…how could anything ever be cool?”
It’s too true! Without disappointment, how can we feel fulfilled? Without ever feeling scared, how can you ever really feel safe. If you’ve never struggled to the point of failure, how would you ever feel the joy of achievement? If you never felt overwhelming physical pain, you will never appreciate the simple gift of the absence of pain? Finally, without ever feeling really broken-hearted, how can we ever feel what it’s like to be truly loved?
Think of your certainties and your comforts as a sort of place to sit and soak up the joys of life. But think of your challenges and uncertainties as the fuel that your joy needs in order to really grow. We can’t truly have one without the other. Black and White. Yin and Yang.
So, as my Aussie friends say, “Give it a go!” Embrace the uncertainties of life; welcome them, because they are just as much a part of a joy filled life as comfort and certainty ever will be.
So learn to crave uncertainties boys, then rest in times of certainty.
I love you guys.