We have it in our power to begin the world again.
-- Thomas Paine

 

   

The MONTHLY Motivator - September 2003

A Joy To Be Alive

It is a joy to be alive. If you disagree with that statement, I humbly submit that it’s not because the statement is untrue, but rather because you have forgotten, or deeply buried, the truth of which it speaks. Certainly there are problems and pains, difficulties and disappointments, losses and tragedies in life. Yet nothing can diminish the fact that life is exceedingly precious and fundamentally joyful.

It is a joy to be alive. On some days that joy is difficult to sense, and on other days it can positively overwhelm you. No matter how much or how little you see it and appreciate it, the possibility for joy is always there, patiently waiting for you to come around to it. Joy is always ready to flow through you when you allow and accept it.

It is a joy to be alive. Yet truly being alive is something that too many people experience only in the most limited and restricted ways. Too often you concern yourself with the images and symbols, icons and representations of life to the extent that you overlook the real and abundant experience of life itself. You focus on the map, with all its limitations and shortcomings, when the territory itself stretches out in every direction, ready to be explored and experienced, ready to be lived.

It is a joy to be alive. Do you believe that? Has that been your experience? Or are you so heavily invested in the pains and the problems that you’ve forgotten about what a joy it is to be alive?

Perhaps life has dealt you some difficult blows. Perhaps life has been unfair to you. Perhaps others have taken advantage of you, or hurt you, or disappointed you. Perhaps you have disappointed yourself. Perhaps you are frustrated because you’ve been trying and trying and just cannot seem to make any progress. Perhaps each day has become too much like the one before, monotonous, devoid of joy, with little hope for any significant change.

Even so, it is a joy to be alive. Every one of the problems is just that -- a problem, an exception to the fundamental, overriding fact that it is a joy to be alive. In order to see a problem as a problem, you must first make the assumption that it is a joy to be alive. For if it were not a joy to be alive, then problems would have no meaning. If not for the underlying assumption that it is a joy to be alive, pain could not be painful, frustrations could not be frustrating.

In fact, the assumption that it is a joy to be alive is so deeply ingrained in your essential being that you probably ceased to think about it a long time ago. Just imagine what could happen if you were to bring that assumption out into the open, to focus on it, to acknowledge the reality and the truth of it. Imagine what could happen.

It is a joy to be alive. Instead of using that assumption only to point out the shortcomings of life, imagine what would happen if you were to use that assumption to uncover the positive possibilities.

It is a joy to be alive. But how can you focus on that when there are bills to be paid and not enough money to pay them? How can you focus on the joy of life when you’re afraid you might lose your job, or lose your health insurance, or if you’ve already lost your job? How can you focus on the joy of life when a serious medical condition is threatening your health and draining your energy? How can you focus on the joy of life when you’re involved in a destructive relationship?

Yet the real question should be this. How can you afford NOT to focus on the joy of being alive? In times of difficulty, as well as in times of plenty, it pays enormously to focus on what is truly important, to center yourself on the fact that you are the beneficiary of the precious gift of life.

It is a joy to be alive, and by truly experiencing that joy, by reminding yourself of it, you also remind yourself of why it is so important to work your way through whatever obstacles you face.

When the worst has happened, when life has kicked you down repeatedly, do you want to stay down or do you want to get up and move forward? You want to get up and move forward, by all means. The way to move forward is to look forward. The way to get up is to have a good, driving reason to do so. It is a joy to be alive, and the positive possibilities that spring from the miracle of life, when you connect with them and appreciate them and are truly thankful for them, give you a compelling reason to move forward. At the heart of those possibilities you’ll find a purpose, a purpose that cannot be denied.


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—Ralph Marston