Every one of us has an aspect of us that is peaceful, loving, compassionate toward self and others, and joyful. It’s an aspect that comes standard with the human package, but most of us, throughout our lives here in our human suit, accumulate obstructions that keep us from acknowledging or recognizing this very real aspect of who we are. You can call it your soul, your higher self, your inner wisdom; no one is here without one.
I’m passionate about this understanding because as it solidified for me, as I got better and better at recognizing and being able to align with this aspect at will, it changed everything in my life. From then on, my whole journey became about collecting tools and practices for making that aspect more accessible, bringing it more into the foreground, making it sustainably present. Because the extent to which you pull that off is the extent to which life truly is joy – no matter what’s unfolding in the crazy “Out There,” which is always shifting and changing and full of surprises for most of us.
Since this aspect of us is always present and available, it’s mostly a practice of breaking the habits we’ve accumulated that blind us to it. We all absorbed beliefs and definitions early in life about how it is here, and for most of us, these early-formed beliefs are not working in favor of our joy. They formed the framework from which we’ve gone on to attract and create all our life circumstances, and most of these we create unconsciously.
We need to burst the illusions of these long-carried beliefs so that the blinders fall away, and we can see the bigger, truer perspective. There are many different protocols for doing that, but they all start with recognizing that everything in your consciousness is a thing you’re in relationship with. We understand that we’re in relationships with all the different people in our lives, but we don’t think about how we’re in a relationship with our career, our body, our home, our money. Everything you experience as part of your existence, you’re in a relationship with that thing.
Anything you’re struggling with is simply an area of life where you have an unhealthy relationship. These detrimental relationships are the results of those early-formed, erroneous beliefs, and they’re just showing us where we’re holding energy that’s creating unwanted situations -– energy that’s in need of healing. So, we want to heal these relationships. Healing them brings them into truer alignment with our soul’s perspective.
Our soul sees the fullness of the situation, whereas our “humany” self is prone to focusing on one painful slice of it. Whatever you deem your most “unwanted circumstance,” you basically want to do forgiveness work with this thing. We all know the magic of forgiveness, right? We’ve heard it’s not about letting anyone off the hook. We do forgiveness work not for the person we’re forgiving, but for us. We’re the ones who benefit from letting go of that resentment, that anger, that blame. It’s the same with the relationships we have with these different aspects of our lives.
Especially when it comes to our relationships with abstract ideas, like our relationship with money, our relationship with romance. We have to consider that these relationships are really all on us. It’s not like your relationship with your brother where there are two people involved and all you can do is bring your half of the relationship to the table. These relationships we have with non-human things and mental constructs exist entirely within our own consciousness. Pretty handy! That means we only have to worry about us when we’re wanting to improve the quality of these relationships.
When we get clear that we created this situation — innocently, unwittingly, via an unhealed frequency within us that we have the power to heal — that understanding provides the critical foundation for forgiveness, both for ourselves and the other party (situation) in the relationship.
Even if we were able, through effort and struggle, to get the unwanted situation behind us, if we don’t take that step of making peace with whatever it is we’re leaving behind, we’re going to create it again, or something similar. We have to heal the energy we create from, or we’ll carry the essence of that creative frequency right into whatever we create next.
I often use the metaphor of pushing pieces around a game board. That’s all we’re ever doing. Every morning you wake up, your day is a game board. There are challenges there on the game board, and also some really cool and satisfying stuff. That’s why we play games. That’s why we read novels and go to movies, or binge Netflix dramas — because something in our humanness likes the mix of the challenges and the beauty. It’s what all our art is about.
We want to learn to appreciate this mix in the gameboard of our life, too. We all have things we’ve created that we love, and other things we’ve created that we’re finding challenging. This is how it’s supposed to be! Our souls know this, but our human minds forget. Some problem shows up, some disappointment, and we’re all indignant and shocked. We’re like: “Ack! Can you believe it? This problem has come up for me; what were the odds?
Well, the odds were really good. Our challenges provide the portals for our growth; none of us are likely to scoot through life without any.
It’s how we manage them that matters; how we move the pieces around the gameboard we wake up to each day. We’re moving them skillfully when we bring more fun and compassion to the game, more conscious lightness and ease, more ways to enjoy it by adjusting our relationships to the challenges and by directing our focus and attention and energy into the good parts (because they’re always there, too). Basically, the more love you can bring to this day’s gameboard, the better, easier, more in your favor tomorrow’s gameboard will be.
Love is the way to win the game. Not how many points you score, not how fast you get to the end. There’s no one else on your life gameboard. Figuring out how to lovingly enjoy the playing of the game is how you win it.
This excerpt is adapted from Lisa McCourt’s new book, Free Your Joy: The 12 Keys to Sustainable Happiness. Reprinted with permission from Health Communications, Inc.
Lisa McCourt writes books about joy and love that have together sold over 9 million copies. She’s host of the Do Joy! podcast, and her newest book, Free Your Joy, represents the culmination of the magic she’s shared for two decades through her online Joy School at LisaMcCourt.com.