“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”- Thich Naht Hanh (Zen Master)
I came across this picture on the LOL Cats website (http://icanhascheezburger.com/). The website is usually good for a smile. People caption funny or cute pictures. It’s more than just cats. It includes other themes such as heroes, dogs, politicians, fails, etc.
The picture provides some ironic truth. On one hand, you could view the cat in the “fortress” as delusional. “Rainbow markers will keep you safe?” Uh huh. Nods. And where is your medication?
However, there is some accuracy to the statement. Our attitudes impact our moods. In a sense, we can choose to build a rainbow wall by what we choose to think about and how we choose to act. We color our reactions, emotional and physical, by how we view the situation. People have commented about my positive attitude towards my injury. My recovery is directly influenced by my attitude. For example, going to WalMart is still an overwhelming and anxiety provoking experience. My friends took me grocery shopping there today. I got some of what I needed but experienced overload shutdown. I stayed in the store and got most of what I needed but I’ll have to pick up some additional groceries tomorrow. I see this as an accomplishment. Instead of avoiding something that challenges me, I went pursued it. The new neuro-connections that my brain needs to make are formed through a combination of experiences/ actions and rest. By allowing myself to experience physical and emotional discomfort, I provided an opportunity for my brain to work on the neurons. The trick is to do this safely and to allow for my limitations. If I avoided going to the stores or out in public, my recovery would be slower. And I would be more limited. For me, that would be a depressing situation.
This is the concept of “acceptance” in mindfulness. I accept the fact I had the accident. I accept my injury and the limitations. But wait! I just said that I’m challenging the limitations and working towards improvement. How is that acceptance? My injury is what it is. I don’t necessarily like it. So, I work to change it. Acceptance isn’t always remaining in the status quo. However, you cannot change what you don’t accept. Think about this. If you want to change, you have to recognize, and accept the situation. Otherwise, energy is being wasted in denial, anger, fear, and avoidance.
Often, we find ourselves captive to powerful emotions. As humans, we are emotional beings. Emotions are healthy and natural. There are emotions that we term “bad;” anger, jealousy, fear, lust, to name a few. But, each of these “bad” emotions have purpose. They provide information about our environment. There’s something going on that we need to pay attention. Fear can indicate danger. Anger can be a healthy response to an argument. It’s what we do with the emotions that matter. Do we dwell on them? Do we lash out with them? Do we hide from them? Or do we notice and accept they are present? Accepting the emotions for what they are reduces their power. It also helps us to address the situation.
Those emotions such as love, happiness, and enjoy are to be embraced. Laughter is healing. Laughter is powerful. Life, for all its challenges, is meant to be embraced. We cannot always be happy. Life is balance also. For joy, there is also sorrow. Even in sorrow, there will again be joy.
Grey the dawn rises
Dark clouds burst soaking the earth
Dancing in puddles