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About the Author
Eric Maisel, Ph.D., is the author of more than 40 books in the areas of creativity, psychology, coaching, mental health, and cultural trends. He is a psychotherapist and creativity coach, and writes for Psychology Today and Professional Artist Magazine and presents workshops internationally. Visit him at www.ericmaisel.com.
Read an Excerpt
Create your Day with Joy and Mindfulness
By Eric Maisel
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2007 Eric Maisel
All rights reserved.
EVERYDAY JOYFUL 1
How will you bring new delight into your life? What pathways to joy will you explore? What follows are thirty suggestions. I invite you to embrace the idea that joy is an attitude; that wonder is a special doorway to joy; that deep joy arises out of mystery; and that friendship, play, exploration, and relaxation are each sunlit avenues on the road to joy. Let your joyous journey begin!
Decide to be joyful. Really commit! Feel the joy rise up within you.
Grow joyful through obstinacy.
Make a fist. Shake it. Shout, "I will be joyful!" Chuckle at your little display of obstinacy but treat the idea seriously. A stubborn commitment to joy is necessary for joy to take hold.
Joy is an attitude. A decision to side with life. A conscious, loving opening.
Grow joyful by embracing joy.
When you wake up, stretch and say, "I will enjoy this day!" Try smiling rather than frowning as you get ready for work. Let joy circulate with your blood supply even as your day fills up with stresses and challenges.
Life wears us down. Our dreams fade. Joy marches out.
Grow joyful by dreaming again.
Create a list of beautiful dreams. Try not to censor yourself or dismiss your dreams out-of-hand. Pick a dream from your list and make it your new goal. Can you feel the joy well up in you, despite your doubts?
It is a miracle that we don't melt in the bath. It is amazing that termites build breezeways. It is astounding that we get a billion second chances.
Grow joyful by opening to wonder.
What wondrous place have you been longing to visit? A bakery across town, a beach down the coast, a monthly jam session, a specialty bookstore? Pick a place and a day and make a joyous expedition.
There are 206 bones in the human body. Not counting the funny bone. Remember that one?
Grow joyful through laughter.
Rent a funny movie. Read a funny book. Make a funny face. Embrace silliness as a path to joy. Even science decrees that laughter is the best medicine. Make it a priority to laugh.
Life's mysteries prompt many feelings. Awe, surprise, even fear. And, to the ready heart, profound joy.
Grow joyful by opening to mystery.
Get ready for the night. When it's dark outside, find a spot where you can see the sky. There are no questions to pose or answers to receive. Just let mystery course through you like a wave.
Give up your commitment to sourness. Quiet your critical nature. Release your bile, your anger, your resentment.
Grow joyful through surrender.
Name a grievance that really upsets you: the critical things your mother used to say, the unfriendliness of a neighbor, the difficulty of your commute. Breathe gently and begin to smile. Let the grievance evaporate like mist on a sunny morning.
Work well. Admire your efforts and your results. Take satisfaction in a job beautifully done.
Grow joyful through accomplishment.
Select a big project whose completion would make you proud. Create a plan for reaching your goal and execute your plan. Smile each day as you picture your project completed beautifully.
Mingled breath. Funny habits. A history of sorrow and happiness.
Grow joyful through intimacy.
Fall in love with your loved one again. Open to love; bring roses; bring kisses. Let the old hurts vanish. Promenade down a leafy boulevard, you and your lover hand-in-hand, doing nothing.
Cut class. Go down to the river. Skip stones until it's time for ice cream.
Grow joyful by breaking free.
Pick an important but not vital obligation, one that would take three or four hours to complete. Chuck it. Do something joyful instead—without feeling guilty!
Pick a subject that fascinates you. Get a pile of books out from the library. Curl up on the sofa and investigate.
Grow joyful by exploring.
We avoid exploring new subjects because we fear that there's too much to learn. Let go of that excuse. Pick a subject—Finnish literature, Chicago jazz, island architecture—and expand your horizons!
Pick a game you love. Marbles, hide-and-seek, croquet. Play it until it's too dark to see.
Grow joyful by playing.
What games did you once enjoy? Volleyball? Scrabble? Badminton? What have you longed to try? Trivial Pursuit? Poker? Ping pong? Do it! Call some friends, make a date, have some light-hearted fun.
Make a lunch date. See an old friend. Laugh and giggle.
Grow joyful in conversation.
Remember Jane? How long has it been? Drop her a line. If she's receptive, make a lunch date. Over a long lunch, chat for hours.
Dawn breaks. A glorious rebirth. Repeated endlessly.
Grow joyful with the new day.
Dawn is nature's masterpiece. Get up early. Feel the possibility in a brand new day. Hug your coffee cup for warmth and smile as the sun suddenly rises.
The fishing trip. The shopping spree. The easy camaraderie.
Grow joyful with friends.
Plan an uncomplicated party, nothing that requires deep housecleaning. Invite a handful of friends, set out the crackers and cheese, and enjoy the company of like-minded people.
The arrow struck. The pain was intense and real. But remembering only salts the wound.
Grow joyful through forgetfulness.
Bring up a disabling memory. Once the emotion subsides, say "I will never remember this again." Trust that your psyche agrees. Allow yourself a little shiver of joyous release.
Playgrounds, parks, schoolyards. Remember when you ran all day? Refresh that memory where children gather.
Grow joyful among children
When the weather is good, pack a picnic lunch and head for the zoo. Find a spot where you can watch the children. Spread out your blanket and bask in their laughter.
Stretch out. Push "Play." Let the director whisk you to Paris or Madrid.
Grow joyful by relaxing.
Go to the foreign movie section of a well-stocked video store. Select two or three movies. Spend all day on a cheap vacation to places where the language and the light are different.
Get in the shower. Hum or belt out an aria, a ballad, a carol. Be the envy of angels.
Grow joyful by singing.
Listen to the songs that were playing when you went to high school. Sing right along with them. Become a pop star in your living room and bring down the house.
You don't have to cash in your retirement account. You don't have to get a second job. Small pleasures are inexpensive and abundant.
Grow joyful by indulging in small pleasures.
Go to your favorite gift store. Buy that eight-hour candle, that blue bud vase, that journal in suede. Have it wrapped as a gift. When you get home, exclaim, "My, who could have bought me this?"
The eyes of your lover. The continents you haven't visited. Lavender growing in a corner of your garden.
Grow joyful by opening to fascination.
Journey to a nearby haunt to explore a lighthouse, a flea market, a rock formation, a field of strawberries. Get started early and spend the day blissfully fascinated.
Give thanks for the Bill of Rights. For deep dish pizza. Or?
Grow joyful by giving thanks.
Write a thank-you note to someone who deserves it, maybe to your third grade teacher who always smiled when you raised your hand or to the friend who waters your plants when you're on vacation ... Write a heart-felt note and post it.
You could write a gorgeous sonnet. Maybe not at the first crack. But eventually. And joyously.
Grow joyful by creating.
Have you been putting off some creative project? Open up to your creative nature and dive right in. Maybe you'll create a masterpiece, maybe you'll make a mess. Let the gods of whimsy decide.
Upholding your ideals is a powerful pleasure. Manifesting your moral nature. Acting authentically.
Grow joyful by living your principles.
Pick a cause to champion. If it's local, drive right over. If it's global, surf the Net, join an organization, and pledge your help. Smile as you invest your time, your money, your energy.
Life grinds. Hope is lost. But a small flame still flickers. Turn that flame into a fire of hopefulness.
Grow joyful through renewed hope.
Pledge that you'll renew hope every day. Your affirmation might be "I have a good feeling about today," "I can't wait to see what today brings," or just "Hello, new day!"
Love is the direction. Love is the option. Love is the answer to every tricky question.
Grow joyful by manifesting your loving nature.
Turn your loving feelings into loving actions. Target someone to receive your love. It might be your mother, your little sister, or you. Yes, or you!
Bark peeling. Bare tree limbs. Sap oozing.
Grow joyful in nature.
Do the mountains call to you? The desert? The deep forest? Make a pilgrimage to a spot you love. Carve out time to enjoy yourself, to pick wildflowers and to watch the sparrows play.
Maybe we return as butterflies. Maybe we return as soot. Maybe our journey surpasses understanding.
Grow joyful by embracing life.
Get out your calendar. Pepper next month's boxes with joyful larks and escapades. Plan for love, for fun, for laughter. Don't let three days running go by without a notation.
Today is a day to be joyful. Rejoice! Rejoice!
Grow joyful this very day.
What will you do today to bring joy to your heart? Look at picture albums, make that special dessert, love that special someone? Why settle for just one joyous moment? Have eleven!
You are what you think. Think carelessly and you'll trip over your untied mental shoelaces. Think aimlessly and you'll lose your way in the thick underbrush. Grow mindful and you'll make yourself proud. Silence, breath awareness, focused attention, a meditative attitude, detachment, keen observation, and structured practice are some of the keys to mindfulness. Embrace the thirty suggestions that follow and get a grip on your mind!
Live in the present moment. Not in the past. Not in the future. That is the essence of mindfulness.
Grow mindful by embracing now.
Mindfulness is the practice of coming to a stop and noticing the content of your thoughts and the richness of the present moment. Try this now, without further ado.
What sort of practice is mindfulness? It is the practice of ego-less concentration. The exorcism of fear, pettiness, and narcissism.
Grow mindful by letting go.
Sit quietly. Let everything that is "you" slip away. What remains is your core, your true self. By practicing, learn how to access the deeper you behind the everyday you.
Observe your thoughts. Like a bird watcher in a great preserve. Know your own mind.
Grow mindful through self-reflection.
Do you know how your mind spends its day? Choose a two- or three-hour period and get acquainted with the actual content of your thoughts.
Silence is the ground of mindfulness. In silence you become aware. Of a leaf. Of a solution. Of an intention.
Grow mindful by inviting silence.
Create a quiet spot. Dim the lights. Close the curtains. Sit up straight. Grow very still. Fill yourself with your own wisdom.
A breath is a container for consciousness. When you notice your breathing, you stop running. You reclaim your faculties.
Grow mindful through breath work.
Practice taking long, deep breaths—five seconds on the inhale, five seconds on the exhale. Several times a day stop everything, shut your eyes, and attend to your breathing.
What is meditation? Just a way to grow quiet. Just a way to focus.
Grow mindful through meditation practice.
Explore formal meditation through reading, listening to meditation tapes, taking a class, or going on a retreat. Find a philosophy and a style that suit you.
You can rush by every sight and signpost. You can slow down and pay attention. Which will you choose?
Grow mindful by paying attention.
Drive ten miles an hour slower than usual. Take in your neighborhood. Notice the oleander growing down the median. Let the look of the sky infiltrate your heart and inform your understanding.
A thought pulls you this way. A thought pulls you that way. Wrest control and get a grip.
Grow mindful by eliminating distractions.
What distracts you? Worries about money? Negative self-talk? Whenever your awareness is pulled away by a distracting thought, tug your mind back as if it were leashed.
Endless ocean waves. The rhythm of the trance. Moments like breaths.
Grow mindful through flow.
When your awareness is pure, when distractions have been eliminated, you enter a trance state known as flow. In this state creation and revelation occur. Try it!
You are not your thoughts. You are not your feelings. You are a beautifully endowed observer.
Grow mindful through detachment.
Notice the next time you grow angry. If your anger is pure reflexive indulgence and serves no good purpose, shout "Go away, anger! I don't need you!" Be bigger than your thoughts and feelings.
Mindfulness leads to right action. You become aware of the thing to do. Then you must do it.
Grow mindful by following through.
As you practice mindfulness you become aware of the things that you must do. Make a pledge to find the courage and discipline to accomplish the tasks your clear mind has named for you.
If you glance everywhere you see nothing. Focus your field of vision. Really look.
Grow mindful by focusing.
Go to the beach. Pick up the first seashell you spot. Study your prize. Memorize its ridges and whorls. Give it five minutes of total attention.
Mindfulness is a practice. Every practice needs structure. What structure will you choose?
Grow mindful by imposing structure.
You might sit quietly for twenty minutes two or three times a day. You might keep a mindfulness journal. Or you might take a slow walk to the same spot every morning. Build the structure that's right for you.
Seeing is an art form. Ask any artist. Become an artist of the passing parade.
Grow mindful by noticing.
Find an outdoor café. Order a tall drink. Watch the people passing. Write down what you see: details of their clothing, features of their faces, your hunches about their inner life.
Experience is the great teacher. Learn life's lessons. Let reality reform your brain.
Grow mindful by learning from experience.
Have a new experience. Take a monoprinting class, travel halfway up Everest, volunteer at a shelter. Keep a journal and every night record—better yet, make sense—of your experience.
Mindfulness requires a patient attitude. An acceptance of the rhythms of life. A willingness to slow down and settle in.
Grow mindful by practicing patience.
What tasks do you always rush? Visits to your parents? Eating dinner? Driving to work? Next time be mindful and whisper, "Patience, patience."
Engage in ritual movement. Take control of your body. Your mind will follow.
Grow mindful through movement.
Begin a walking meditation practice. Go to a park with a path. Walk slowly, listen to the songbirds, smell the perfume of the flowers. Think thoughts or think nothing.
What is right thinking at age ten? At age sixty? Different ages have their different objectives. Mindfulness is a seasonal affair.
Grow mindful according to your stage in life.
What should you pay attention to these days? Relationships? Career? The wider world? Your garden? Meditate on the question, "What is the purpose of this moment?"
The essence of mindfulness is cessation. No more running. No more racing. No more scratching away at an eternal to-do list.
Grow mindful by completely stopping.
Say to your self, "I am stopping now." Consciously release your worries and your thoughts about your next tasks. Sit, breathe deeply, and really stop for a few minutes.
Your mind can become a frantic chatterbox. Full of worries, regrets, gossip. Hush that noise. Quiet those voices.
Grow mindful by quieting mind chatter.
Notice an unnecessary thought and consciously let it go by saying, "Away thought." Eliminate another. Keep going. Eliminate so many unnecessary thoughts that the remaining ones experience real elbow room.
We make our decisions impulsively. Without stopping to really consider. Mindfulness is the opposite procedure.
Grow mindful by weighing options.
Bring a current dilemma to mind. Generate a list of possible solutions, as many as a dozen. Examine each option in turn, mindfully considering its pros and cons.
Our thoughts grow stale. Our opinions shopworn. Splash some cold water on your habits of mind.
Grow mindful by refreshing your thinking.
Place two chairs facing one another. Pick an issue that matters to you. Move from chair to chair articulating both sides of the issue. Air your current thoughts and your latest arguments. Discover what you know.
Excerpted from EVERYDAY YOU by Eric Maisel. Copyright © 2007 Eric Maisel. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
PART 1 Everyday Joyful
PART 2 Everyday Mindful
PART 3 Everyday Connected