Heart So Full

 In the last six months, I’ve used the phrase “heart so full” more than I have in any other period of my existence. What does that mean though? Heart so full is the feeling of can’t-stop-smiling no matter how hard I try. Heart so full is the best hug I’ve ever received. Heart so full is the softness that comes after a sigh. Heart so full is being engulfed in the present moment. Heart so full is watching the people I love succeed. Heart so full is looking up at a sky full of twinkling stars and feeling both humbled by the vastness of the universe and empowered by the opportunity to live a meaningful life. These moments of filling up happen all around us. Why is it so hard to see them? Here’s how to lift the fog, open your eyes, and fill your heart.

Empty out (aka get rid of the bullshit) - Sometimes obligations and toxic energy fill us to the brim so completely that we physically can’t take in the beauty of anything else. To fill your heart it logically follows that you have space to fill. Thanks to facebook’s memory algorithm, I was reminded of a meme that so perfect described my mental and emotional state of being.

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 That meme also holds true for me January-June 2017. One of the best choices I made for myself during Summer ‘17 was to remove the toxic relationships that plagued my life. That included personal, professional, and romantic relationships. I am an eternal optimist.  I give people more second chances than is healthy. Only when I am completely ragged from giving/doing/trying do I release myself from relationships turned destructive. Having the courage to remove myself from joy-vampire situations made me feel awake, less burdened, free.

More importantly, I overhauled the relationship that I had with myself. The internal environment we create impacts the way in which we see the world.  If I am constantly under attack in my own head, how could I ever feel safe in the larger world?  If I am constantly spinning a story of less-than or failure, how could I ever feel worth it in any circumstance? I have no control over other people’s actions but I get to choose what’s going on with me. When I decide that I am worth treating myself with respect, I set the standard for the way others treat me.

Emptying out is not like spring cleaning; we must constantly assess whether the circumstances we create for ourselves, both internally and externally, are serving us. The hardest choice we have to face stays with us for the whole of our lives: am I ready to be different than the person I was yesterday?

Find the Joy (aka magical little moments) - Something amazing happened when I got rid of the bullshit. I saw joy in every corner of my existence. Bullshit toxic relationships, again all different types of them, make the world foggy. We spend so much time and energy, mind and heart space, sifting through and trying to make sense of them. Redistribute that energy towards gratitude and joy.  Mundane things, little bits of life we couldn’t notice in the fog, start to carry warm-hearted significance: the dog that followed you on your run in the park, those children laughing as they run through the sprinklers, the leaves changing, the snow drifting slowly to the ground. Magic, all of these moments. Think back to times in your life that filled you with the most joy.  They probably weren’t grand gestures but rather small actions of seeing and being seen. Our lives are made up of thousands of micro-moments strung together to tell a story about who we are. Once the fog lifts, sit with each breath of a moment. Realize it’s ephemerality. Soak in it’s joy.

Build the Base (aka commit to cultivating positive relationships) - You’ve gotten rid of the bullshit. You’re starting to see the joy in the little moments that make up life. Make a commitment to yourself to build positive relationships. Positive relationships are not perfect; instead, they are built on a foundation of trust and mutual interest in evolving. Find the people who are unafraid to have a conversation when things get challenging. Spend time with the people who make you smile broadly and laugh obnoxiously. Create memories and bonds that keep the sky sunny even when life gets stressful.

Discover the things that make you happy. In your relationship with yourself, continue to create a reflective practice.  Do the things you do throughout your day bring you joy? Do you feel a sense of higher purpose or accomplishment? Perhaps you speak to yourself by writing in a journal. Notice any patterns of behavior that make you feel less vibrant. Ask yourself, “what would I do if I didn’t have to do ________?” The positive relationship with the self is one that also changes over time. Cultivating compassion and kindness towards the self reverberates outward.

 

In the last six months, I’ve sipped in joy, gratitude. I look around at little moments like snow falling or sunshine hitting my face during my practice or looking into the eyes of people I care about and sharing a full-belly laugh over a small private moment. My heart fills. It overflows.