“I saw grief drinking a cup
of sorrow and called out,
‘It tastes sweet, does it not?’
‘You’ve caught me,’ grief answered,
‘and you’ve ruined my business.
……How can I sell sorrow,
when you know it’s a blessing?'”
HOW CAN I KEEP FROM SINGING?
My life goes on in endless song
above earth’s lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
that hails a new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear its music ringing,
It sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?
While though the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.
And though the darkness ’round me close,
songs in the night it giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm,
while to that rock I’m clinging.
Since love is lord of heaven and earth
how can I keep from singing?
When tyrants tremble in their fear
and hear their death knell ringing,
when friends rejoice both far and near
how can I keep from singing?
In prison cell and dungeon vile
our thoughts to them are winging,
when friends by shame are undefiled
how can I keep from singing?
Enya’s version of an 1860’s hymn originally titled, “Always Rejoicing.”
For the joy of it, watch Enya’s You Tube version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdRSRTqOyi4
Even in the midst of the most intense suffering there is always something to savor. Perhaps, it is the ability to feel, the knowledge you had something to lose, or the perspective that this too shall pass. All can shift your thoughts into a realm of peace. It may sound almost impossible, but even when you are brought to your knees with suffering there is the opportunity for gratitude and joy. Sometimes, it is simply the ability to feel the depths of your pain and loss. When that happens, allow yourself to explore what it is to be human and fully experiencing a well of emotion. After all, what are we here for if not to pay attention and embrace every moment just as it is, whether raw and miserable or full of bliss?
What does suffering have to do with your capacity for joy? Plenty. As you allow all your feelings, you increase your openness to rapture. It takes courage to go to the darkest places in your heart. Paradoxically, the rebound effect is becoming so expansive you not only embrace what happiness life showers on you, but also actively seek more.
Learning how to find bliss is a skill that improves with practice. Stop right this minute and look around you. If you can see out a window, notice what is happening. Find the beauty of clouds, rain, snow, sun, whatever presents itself. Really look. Seek out the tiniest details of of nature’s daily pageant. If you work in an office cubicle, look at whatever you have brought in to personalize your space. Is it a picture of family or friends? Perhaps, it’s that mountain you climbed, or want to climb. Maybe it’s an empty coffee cup. Just take a moment to fully appreciate what each of those things implies, whether connection, love, exilharation, anticipation, or feeling sated.
Just like that little exercise, the key to finding more joy is to narrow your scope. Look for the smallest things that make your heart sing.
You can also increase your opportunities for happiness with a bit of self-exploration. Notice when you feel expansive or contracted. Are there certain people in your life in whose presence you feel your body tighten? Are there times when you feel so open it is as if your cells are mingling with the ineffable? It will take some assertiveness skills and a commitment to self-care, but you can increase the good catalysts in your life, and decrease those that create stress and contraction.
Once you have honed your happiness skills, make sure you are fully enjoying whatever peace and joy has been bestowed on you. You can actually squeeze more bliss out of any positive experience by ratcheting up your awareness and being fully present. Then, just so you can feel even more connected to your divine inner light, share it. Smile at anyone and everyone. Give something away. Reach out to someone who may be lonely or bereft. Bake some cookies for your neighbors. Give someone, even a stranger, a compliment. Now, watch the power of spreading your positive energy as it not only expands your delight, but creates more for others.
Copyright Nicole S. Urdang
Find the Joy, Enjoy the joy, Spread the Joy March 19, 2013
How to Handle: “Get over it already.” July 23, 2009
There seems to be a prevailing philosophy that all grief should disappear in a short time. Its mantra, “Get over it already,” is uttered incessantly, whether you just broke-up, lost a job, had an accident, or buried a loved one. What’s the rush, and whose healing schedule are you on? Surely, not theirs. Grief work (which can include anger, anxiety, depression, remorse, resentment, and feelings of worthlessness) has no timetable. It is as unique as your fingerprint; yet, there seems to be this belief that moving on as fast as possible is the only right way. Of course, with this mandate saturating our culture, anyone who takes his or her time to fully grieve is left with the double whammy of having endured whatever sparked the grief and feeling like a failure because they haven’t “gotten over it” yet.
We all know plenty of people mask their misery with drugs, alcohol, random sex, and a plethora of other addictions. Could this possibly be healthier than dealing with it? In some circles as long as someone keeps their pain under wraps, and puts on a happy face, everyone can just party hearty. After all, it’s no fun being around a grief-stricken soul; and it’s even worse feeling ineffectual because you can’t make them happier. No wonder there’s such a deep societal desire to “get over it already.”
So, what is the best response to: “Aren’t you over that already?” (Especially, when it’s delivered in a tone that seems to imply, “What’s wrong with you?” and, puts you on the defensive). In a perfect world, where everyone has their wits about them 24/7, it might be utter silence accompanied by a slightly quizzical look. This would circumvent the the knee-jerk defensive response to what sounds like a criticism. A simple “No” might suffice, but you risk the person replying with, “Well, you should be!” If there’s a little two year old inside you, and there is in almost all adults, he or she is likely to take offense at being told what to do.
Henry Ford II once said, “Never explain, never complain.” Perhaps that’s the best guide. Unfortunately, if the person exhorting you to “get over it” is a close friend or relative, you might feel a vested interest in sharing your true thoughts and feelings, if for no other reason than not having them ever utter those words to you again. You might even share how you’ve decided to give yourself a cosmic permission slip to take all the time you need to process your grief.
If you’re feeling particularly honest, you could say: “When you ask that question I feel denigrated and judged,” letting your comment hang in the air and putting the onus on the other person to respond.
Or, you might try: “One of the things this whole experience has taught me is that I can take whatever time I need to let go and forgive. I may never completely get over this. I’ve decided to make that OK, too.”
Then there’s the very direct approach: “I don’t find that a helpful question,” or, “Please don’t ask me that.”
I generally like to assume the best (or, at least some neutral motivation) on the part of people saying, “Aren’t you over that, already?” Perhaps, they want to propel you to healing faster, because they don’t like seeing you in pain or they feel helpless in assuaging your misery. It really is all about what they think and feel, and their projection of what they believe they would do if in your shoes. While understanding the genesis of their comment can be helpful, it doesn’t really solve the problem of the best response. Clearly, that depends on your mood, with whom you are speaking, and your stage of grief. (Contrary to what Elizabeth Kubler Ross said, those stages do not follow linearly, and can come back to haunt you in all sorts of disorderly and unpredictable ways.)
You could say, “Perhaps, if you had this experience (divorce, break-up, death of a loved one) you would have already worked through your grief, but I haven’t. Part of my journey is making it safe to allow my feelings to evolve.”
A deeper issue here is having the courage of your convictions and the confidence to express them. The only way to build confidence is by doing difficult things. Assertively standing up for yourself can be very challenging, especially when you feel beaten down by life; but, that’s the time to practice speaking your truth. It will not only build confidence, but you might feel a new lightness from unburdening yourself and being authentic.
In a perfect world, people might have the sensitivity and awareness to say, “I am so sorry this situation is painful and difficult for you,” and just leave it at that. But, if they continue to say, Aren’t you over that already?” perhaps responding with: “I appreciate your desire to see an end to my suffering. Thank you for your sympathy and concern.” could be liberating, and keep you from reacting defensively.
No one likes to feel judged, put-down, or chastised. If you know that question pushes your buttons it’s best to get away from it as quickly as possible, especially with acquaintances. If you want to explain how you really feel to friends or family, that’s different as you have a long-standing bond with them, and presumably many years of relationship ahead.
Copyright Nicole S. Urdang