You Are the Light a.k.a “What Are You Waiting For”

I began graduate school when “things” were good in U.S. society. Jobs were plentiful. Innovation was rampant. Grants and Research funding were flowing, I mean not overflowing, yet the stream was strong. Some questioned why I would continue into a doctoral program in a discipline that was so enigmatic. My masters degree and experience was a solid meal ticket.

A third of the way into my doc program, folks were running to graduate school. Various sectors of the economy were tanking. “Things” were bad everywhere, and for nearly everyone. Folks were applying to and matriculating into graduate school like it was the line for commodities at the community center.

Around this time I encountered a quote/saying that was quippy and made me giggle.

“Due to the recession the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off.”

As it turns out, things got THICK in my doctoral program and subsequently in my ENTIRE life shortly after this nugget was shared with me. Amazingly enough, this little quip helped me through the darkest of periods. It was somewhat of a mantra in the last legs of journey through graduate school.

However, tonight it died a miserable death.

Tonight while relaxing and enjoying a sporadic summer evening’s rain and a cool breeze, I sat rocking with my eyes closed and praying. As I concluded I breathed deeply and would normally have begun to hum softly. Instead I unintentionally found myself ear hustling a conversation that flipped my priceless gem completely. This little nugget that got me through by far the toughest process of my life was now shattered.  Something entirely different was revealed; something that is more valuable to me presently.

“As a leader, you are the light at the end of the tunnel. Find ways to be inspired, to chip away at the barriers ahead.” ~ Lincoln Stephens

My breath caught in my throat and my ear hustling game was discovered. Yet, since I wasn’t a part of the conversation I was luckily able to retreat back into my own lair of thoughts. I recalled a poem I wrote last winter just as my current season was beginning.

What You Are

You are life

You are love

You are a covenant

You are a promise

You are a commitment

You are a sacrifice

You are a protector

You are a cover

You are loving

You are sustaining

You are supportive

You are obedient

You are inspiring

You are tireless

There are no reinforcements

You are who your grandmothers prayed for

Due to the encouragement of one of my mentees, it also happens to be the first poem I ever performed in front of an audience.  I’ve shared it with you, because the sentiments of the quote, and the poem are so much more valuable than the original quip.

The original quote and it’s sentiments made me giggle. These words and thoughts bring me joy.

Is that All There Is: Lessons in Joy and Dancing

The year 2012 was a sparse year for posts on this blog about joy. The strange thing is that it wasn’t because there wasn’t any joy. In fact, there was more joy, both quantitatively and qualitatively, in 2012 than any other year of my adult life. Qualitatively, there was probably just as much pain. More unexpected and unwanted pain than I had experienced in my entire life.

It baffled my soul and my brain how the two could co-exist, sometimes even simultaneously. Yet they did. It was also difficult to wrap my brain around the fact that what seemed like my entire life falling apart didn’t hurt nearly as much as I thought it would. Sure it hurt like hell, there were moments and sometimes days I felt like I wanted die. Times when I felt like some force was attempting to crumple me like a sheet of loose-leaf paper from the very core of my physical body.

Yet no matter how still I lay cuddled up with that feeling of despair, I could still hear my breath. Death was not coming; and listening to the rhythm of my breath I would realize, repeatedly, that I didn’t really want it to. So I’d get up, and go with the flow.

A tornado lit through my life.

The life I’d worked so hard for. The life I’d done all the right things for. The life I wanted so badly and paid nearly the ultimate price for. The life that, once I was in it, made me wonder, “Is that all there is?”

So I stood there looking at the storm tearing up my life: taking my unborn child too early; destroying my abusive and unhealthy marriage; severing my ties with people that represented everything I had lived for…and when it was all said and done I packed up a little car, with nearly nothing in but a tank full of gas, and went with the flow.

The flow took me to visit friends, interview for jobs and set up a new camp – with next to nothing, save the lessons that I’d learned. The most important one (because there were many) was about holding on and letting go.

My miscarriage and the end of my marriage (only months apart) taught me that if holding on to the thing (person, idea, etc.) that I loved the most was impossible, why decrease the joy in my life even more by holding on to ANYTHING that I didn’t want.

So the lesson was one that was as old as time: Let go. Vairāgya. Practice detachment.

The joy in my life presently is unspeakable. I’ve tried since September to write a post and just couldn’t sit still long enough; or when I sat still couldn’t find the words to describe and explain. I hadn’t wrapped my head around it. As I’ve spent more time in prayer and asana I have come to realize why that was.

A friend captured this picture of me while I was lost in the music.

A friend captured this picture of me this summer while I was lost in the music.

It cannot be wrapped up, it can only be observed. I cannot possess it; I can only experience it.

So that’s my latest lesson. Your experiences with joy become a bit more frequent when you let it roam free and don’t try to possess it.

What is it that you’re holding on to? Why is it that you’re holding on to it?

(Post Vibes: “Tornado” by Little Big Town; “Free” by The Zac Brown Band; “Bag Lady” by Erykah Badu)

Joy Bandits (a.k.a The things We Tell Ourselves)

For much of our lives we seek joy in our relationships. Pre-puberty our friendships and our families are the center of our universe and we are content as long as someone reads us a story at bedtime, shares snack time with us in the afternoon, and our playmates seek us when we hide.

During and after puberty, these are still priorities in some way or another, yet we begin to feel the yearning for something deeper; for someone to connect with even if we don’t share our toys or DNA. This is when loyalty and commitment become the brass rings in our lives.

…and this is when the fabric of our conversations changes. We begin to say that “Love is hard to find.” We begin to say that “loyalty is a lost art.” We begin to say that “love hurts” and “friends come and go.” 

I REFUSE to believe any of this. I may groove to those words when they’re lying on top of a dope beat or a soulful fiddle, but I don’t believe any of it really.

Still, in the midst of my most recent and traumatic season of “Things fall apart,” I wonder if I’m intentionally and recklessly naive. Yet I still hold tightly to the idea that we all want the best for ourselves and one another, especially in our relationships; and we’re just all doing the best we can.

Many of my friends have complimented me on my lack of general bitterness.

They’ve said how proud they are of me for being strong.

They’ve commented on my general lack of “F*@k ‘em all” and “Dudes ain’t S#*t” comments.

They’ve mentioned that it’s okay if I’m angry, and been skeptical of how little negative energy I’m feeling/sharing with them.

The issue is this: I see bad men, and people in general, as exceptions. I am genuinely surprised and sometimes shocked by people who behave badly, specifically folks in romantic relationships.

I always have been.

I don’t believe most folks cheat. I’ve known very few cheaters in my liftetime.

I don’t believe most folks are insanely insecure or jealous. I’ve known very few folks who let their insecurities run them in all the years I’ve had close male friends.

I don’t believe that most folks are afraid to commit. I’ve known folks, men and women alike, that have looked forward to their wedding day and their future wife and children for much of their post-puberty years my entire life. [This may be skewed by the fact that I was raised and came of age deeply embedded in Christian, Southern and West Indian cultures – separately and in their sum totality]

…and before you question my perspective…If thirty some odd years was enough for Martin Lutha tha Kang and Jesus then I feel comfortable using “my entire life” is a valid temporal context for drawing these conclusions about commitment.

Allow me to bust some fences for a moment. [I’m about to be heteronormative for a moment, but indulge me because the point is universal]

I don’t know any dudes with commitment issues. I know that sounds crazy. It is the opposite of everything that makes our social world spin.

I know guys that aren’t interested.

I know guys that aren’t financially prepared.

I know guys that are working on their insecurities.

I know guys that are waiting to hear from God about the one they already love.

I even know guys who are intentionally taking a hiatus from serious relationships because some aspect of their world has recently fallen apart.

There are some that don’t believe in marriage, yet they do believe in commitment, monogamy and family. I do not know any guy that has an aversion to commitment.

This could be for one of two reasons:

1)      I don’t really understand men and so my guy friends are admitting their commitment-phobia yet it is done in coded by mandate of man-law and my XX DNA configuration can’t detect it.

2)      I don’t actually understand what commitment issues are.

As lovers of men, when things fall apart we often reach for that dominant gender narrative that men are men and afraid of a good thing tying them down, even when they know it’s a good thing. But what if they aren’t? …if men aren’t afraid of commitment what will those of us who love men use as the scapegoat now….?

How do these types of negative depictions of those we desire closeness with damage OUR ability to create spaces of joy and grace? 

The Break-Up: Making Decisions

How often do you break-up with yourself to live a life uncommitted to your values and priorities?

I know it sounds weird to say that we break up with ourselves. Yet if you think about how often we make choices that are out of line with what we believe about our lives and ourselves, you would think that who we are at our core is completely different than who we as we go about everyday life. Many times our behavior says to our soul: I think we should see other people.

This is a common, and even predictable, thing. I mean, making decisions is hard. Especially when you consider the way that we tend to make decisions.

When you have to make a decision, do you look at all the choices you have, and by looking at your choices, believe that you’ll be able to determine which choice yields the best results?

When you aren’t sure which option to choose, do you explore all the potential consequences of each choice, good and bad, and dream of the life possible via each path?

When you have a choice to make, do you ask advice from those that know you best, including God, seeking an insight into yourself and your purpose that might illuminate the best choice?

Does any variation of examining choices described above fit you?

Does your method work every time?

Do you sometimes find yourself in a great relationship…

Or job…

Or social setting…

Or workshop…

Or graduate program

Or church service, yet you are getting nothing out of it. It isn’t the right place for you. It could be a lovely place, or it could be hell, yet you know it isn’t the best place for you.

You begin to wonder if that other choice might have been better or even  if you should have just declined them all, and waited for the next set of options.

I’ve learned in the past year with my own dissertations, marriage, moves,  graduations and jobs that looking at choices doesn’t help you make the best choice.

Examining opportunities doesn’t reveal their benefits to your life.

The best way…

The way that relieves confusion…

The way that relieves guilt…

The way that relieves doubt

The way that relieves remorse, is to look at your core values and priorities. When you examine what you believe and how you wish to live your life and stack that up against your options, then decisions will make themselves.

Making decisions isn’t about choosing, it’s really about being committed to yourself.  So when you’ve got a big, or small, decision  to make, take yourself to your favorite place, or buy yourself a nice bottle of wine and a good meal  instead of making a pro/con list.

Not only will your choices bring you more joy, the process itself will become more joy filled as well.

Moments of Clarity: How Getting Over Yourself Can Increase Your Joy

Have you ever looked at the sender or subject line of an unopened email and instantly got a knot in the pit of your stomach? Or maybe you already opened the message thinking it was one thing and then got to reading and opened up a wound that you didn’t even realize that you had?

It’s like when you grab a handful of popcorn and yelp in pain because you didn’t realize that you had a paper cut until the salt from the popcorn informed you of it. You’re going along just fine in life; grateful for what you have, thinking that you are full of joy and overflowing with graciousness and THEN you open a message or look down at the screen of your phone as it rings and something pops up that you weren’t expecting.

And you have a visceral response to some past hurt…

And it happens so quickly…

And from so deep down inside…

And it so completely overwhelms you that you know without a doubt that there is no question about your feelings.

Even though you know it isn’t good that you feel this way…

Good as in healthy…

Good as in productive

Good as in helpful

Good as in aligned with your values.

Yet you know it’s justified; you know that others would agree with you and say that they had a similar experience.

I had that experience this week. I received an email about an opportunity that I knew my students could potentially benefit from. Yet it was from an organization that many of my colleagues and myself would agree was not the best environment for our development, although we all made the best out of it. There have been changes within the organization in the nearly 10 years since I have been there, yet I am not sure how superficial or complete their implementation has been.

I then realized that was none of my business. I had learned many lessons since then, all of which could help my students navigate this organization or any other. Additionally, with the condition of society and higher education presently I can’t guarantee that avoiding this organization would allow my students to avoid the hurtful experiences that me and my colleagues had anyway.

Once I got over myself, this is the prayer that came to me …

Dear People & Places that I have  been; The circle of life has now brought forth the opportunity to send folks down the pathways I have cleared, as well as those I was able to pave since they has been cleared by others. I pray that you will be kinder to them, than you were to me; and I pray that I have healed and developed maturity rather than bitterness, so that I can send them your way with anticipation, joy, and encouragement rather than bitterness, skepticism and fear. Amen.

Have you ever had a moment of clarity that highlights how your pain or opinions could hurt others? How were you able to overcome it? Leave a comment or follow me, @busi_B, on twitter to share.

FOCUS: The Benefits of Priorities, Passion & Purpose

Yesterday my husband and I enjoyed our 1st wedding anniversary. Since we met almost 3 years ago everything I’ve wanted in life and spent so much time and energy working toward has fallen into place. As hokey & romantic as that may sound it’s true. However, it has less to do with the magic of love and more to do with a decision I made about a year before we met, and subsequent choices that were consistent with that decision.

The decision was to FOCUS.

To get into MY zone.

To STAY into my lane.

It was more difficult for me to do than it sounds. At the time I was an advanced graduate student, an active member of a large church and one of its more active areas of ministry, a great friend, a sister & a daughter; I was someone’s girlfriend; I was a good citizen of my university and department community; I was….

I was…

I was…

I was so many things.

I was everything I needed, and as much as humanly possibly I was also what students, friends, the first lady of my church, my brother, my neighbors, the more novice graduate students in my department and at times even what the stranger on the bus needed.

It wasn’t that what those folks needed or even what I thought I needed wasn’t noble or good.

Yet much of it had little or nothing to do with my purpose

And so I was using ALL of my energy and I was completely unfulfilled. I had no joy, despite the fact that I was a good person.

I went looking for joy, using so many formulas. One of which was to make myself laugh at least 3 times a day. I mean a belly laugh, not a giggle, every day.

So one day I was watching comedy videos clips on YouTube, and a comedian I find hilarious did a routine about focusing on your dreams and staying in your lane.

And that is when I began to realize that I needed to FOCUS. I didn’t know at first what that meant, yet over the course of the next six months God presented opportunities almost every moment of every day and every choice I had I FOCUSED on three things:

1)      Priorities NOT opportunities: Everything that sounds good isn’t what’s good for you. Just as there are times that you see an outfit on a hat that look good on someone else, then you try to pull it off and it doesn’t work. It isn’t that it isn’t still a good look, it just isn’t for you. The same with that promotion or job or relationship. If you make decisions by focusing on your priorities you limit unintentionally putting yourself in mismatched or overwhelming situation and also make the decision process less confusing and agonizing.

2)      Passion NOT consistency: There were times that I would find myself committed to something I didn’t really want to do because it was something I was good at. Someone would approach me with a favor or opportunity because they knew I was good at that sort of thing. I’d also find myself passing up opportunities by hiding behind the fact that it just wasn’t the kind of thing that I was accustomed to doing or the kind of thing I was good at. Sometimes staying on message limits you, paints you into a box and allows you to hide from actual living. Choose to do those things that ignite and keep your passion lit and brightly shining.

3)      Purpose NOT platform: This essentially means that you should choose clarity over recognition. When you are faced with a decision regarding what to do with your time and energy focus on opportunities that CLEARLY line up with your purpose and communicate to the world what you believe in. Whether it’s personal or professional if health is a priority for you then make sure you are clearly communicating with your words and deeds that message. Even though that may mean turning down bigger platforms in the beginning, the clarity in your message using smaller platforms is better than confusing folks when you don’t appear passionate about what you are doing on a larger platform.

Once I began to focus on PRIORITIES, PASSION & PURPOSE the universe conspired to bring me everything I desired as if it was always there just waiting for me. Soon after applying clarifying and applying this set of ideas in my life I met my husband for the first time. Then we met again a few months after that and began dating. A few months after that I defended my dissertation proposal; five months after that we got engaged, several months after that we got married, and six months after we got married I successfully defended my completed dissertation.

Some folks would say I hit my sweet spot.

Others might say I found my groove.

I can say without a doubt that what actually happened was that I began to FOCUS. God didn’t do anything differently, I did; and tapped into my joy during the process.

What do you do to focus your life? Let me know on twitter by following @busi_B.

Showing Up vs. Being There

When I was in 3rd grade I got a certificate for perfect attendance. The irony of the situation was that on the day of the awards ceremony I was absent. That is an experience that has always stuck out in my memories of childhood. 

The thing is, we often have fuzzy moments of our lives that we recall, rather than a life full of intense and vivid memories.

I have experienced many major milestones this past year and have had several intense transitions in my life during this time as well. In just the last few months nearly a dozen folks that I admire, call examples and have looked to as role models have passed on. They were accomplished individuals, some famously so, and others simply known and revered to those who had the privilege of sharing their last name or zip code.

I heard myself saying and saw myself posting on twitter, that there must be some sort of conspiracy going on in the universe. Then as I heard and read the words over several occassions, I realized that isn’t exactly how the universe works. Death is just as common and miraculous as birth…and curiously enough so is the part in between…

The living part. 

It seems crazy, and even definitively inaccurate, to think of miracles as common things. Yet when you consider the human body and what has to be in place and in sync for us to take a breath, and that if for some reason we fail to take a breath we will fail to live, you begin to apprehend how common miracles really are.

We love to think of miracles this time of year. We love to sing of them. We love to watch movies & plays about them. We love to celebrate them.

Yet when was the last time you celebrated the miracle of your life? When was the last time you paid attention to the miracle that is your life?

If someone sat underneath a shooting star reading a book, or cursed the darkness caused by an eclipse, or failed to acknowledge their own birthday let alone the birth of a new baby, we would question their saneness. We would wonder at their lack of humanity.

Yet when was the last time you were present and reveled in the miracle that is your life?

This is what I have been doing. I have been being present.

I have been watching my dog as he walks.

I have been thinking of my students’ faces and backstories as I grade their papers.

I have been watching my husband as he washing dishes.

I have been looking at the walls I wish to paint in my apartment.

I have been riding in cars with my friends and laughing.

I have been sitting at my mother (in-laws’) kitchen table chatting & watching soaps.

I have been writing nothing down, yet remembering so much more. Being present has been the greatest gift of joy I’ve given myself in quite some time. When was the last time you recall being really present in the moment? Do you think being present always bring more joy to our lives? What are some of the ways that you bring meaning to your life?

The Reason Joy Isn’t Constant

Do you know how to cultivate compassion?

Do you know how to cultivate acceptance?

Do you know how to cultivate a better life for ALL?

I know that you think you know what my answer will be. It’ll have something to do with cultivating more joy in your life.

You’re wrong.

Compassion, acceptance and a more humane society have much more to do with those infrequent times when joy is more difficult to find than a solid first half by the Detroit Lions.

It’s been about 3 weeks or so since I’ve published a new post. I know exactly why. 

It has nothing to do with writers block.

I’ve entered one of those infrequent seasons, when joy makes itself scarce. When I stop looking in the mirror and counting my blessing. When I stop meditating and looking inside. When I stop praying and looking above…and I start looking around.

I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. I’m not asking for your pity; nor is it a case of needing to be reminded of the millions of ways to cultivate joy in my life.  Neither is it one of those times when I find myself being envious.

What I’m actually experiencing is disgust, anguish, indignation, anger, sadness and fear that this is the best that we will do as humans; not because we can’t do better, yet because we are distracted, lazy and apathetic. This is one of those periods in life that are necessary. It’s one of those seasons that spark action by motivating movements and creating compassion. 

No matter what it is that you believe in or think needs to change, seasons where joy is sparse are the times when you should ask yourself…so what am I going to do about it?

There is a reason why joy is a frequent state, rather than a constant one, and it has little to do with being ungrateful and more to do with cultivating faith in ourselves in humans to cultivate more hope and less hurt.

Joy cultivates quiet peace and contentment. Yet the ways that our society operates and deals with our family, friends and neighbors doesn’t give everyone a life that makes joy easy to experience. It isn’t just about society’s that don’t have clean water or civil servants and police officers that the citizens can trust. It’s also about those that guarantee a free education that doesn’t and can’t provide the knowledge of math, science and comprehension to function adequately enough to understand your bank accounts, doctor’s advice or car insurance policy.

Have you found yourself with a little less joy lately? Were you exasperated when someone said, “Count your blessings;” or “Stop being ungrateful”?  It might not be dissatisfaction with your life. It might be a dissatisfaction with the world you live your life in; and you have just as much control over that as you do over your actual life.

What’s the one thing you will do today that will bring more joy to someone other than you? 

The Trick about Treats

So they already have Halloween candy on sale, I think I first saw it a few weeks ago actually. I haven’t lived in a community where the children trick or treat in years, and to tell you the truth I’m not sure I miss it.

this is what your Halloween loot looks like if you went to the houses that give out the good candy.

I used to agonize over whether I should choose healthy treats or candy, or if I should get the good candy (that is amazingly expensive) or the less expensive mix with 5 different kinds of candy, but only 1 or 2 kinds that anyone actually likes (which is easier on the debit card).

Seeing some of my favorite seasonal candies appear on the shelves once again got me to thinking about how much of a hassle enjoying your favorite grown-up treats can be from time to time.

The candy eco pack. I'm sure the kids in my old neighborhood are probably glad I'm not giving out candy anymore.

Do you have a personal treat that you LOVE and that help you keep your sanity?

For me it’s massages. I try to treat myself to a massage every four to six weeks. When I was in graduate school it was more often, usually every three weeks I’d get a 60 or 90 minute massage or when things were tight I’d do a 30 minute massage every other week until or 15 minute every week, until I could splurge on some longer time on the table.

The thing is, it wasn’t really a splurge in the true sense, due to health problems and some intense stress during my graduate program I had to be pretty vigilant about my bodywork (acupuncture and massage), as well as my eating (as organic and natural that my tight budget could get) and yoga regime.

Much of what we read or hear nowadays urges us to prioritize self-care. I agree that consistently neglecting to take care of yourself is never a good lifestyle choice. I truly believe that if you don’t take great care of yourself, you won’t have much of anything to give to those who depend on you. However, we may very well be taking the care of ourselves to seriously.

For instance, my last massage was about a week ago, before that it had been months. Part of the reason was that my husband and I had some other summer budget priorities so it moved farther down the list of things we wanted to spend money on. The other reason was because I had some other priorities shift in my life. For one, living as a newlywed and making new girlfriends in my new city.

I’m an early bird, so it was nothing for me before I got married to rise an hour and a half early, go get a massage, fall asleep on the table, treat myself to a great breakfast then start writing or prepping lesson plans with little interruption to my to-do list or deadlines. That isn’t the case anymore. I’d much rather snuggle in bed with the hubs until the last minute or get up and make a fun breakfast, that is when I don’t indulge in some sleeping in – my husband’s sweet sleep often compels me to sneak in a few more Z’s myself.

I’m also making new friends and meeting new folks in my new city. Although a spa day with old girlfriends is great, when I’m making new friends I prefer interactive activities like shopping, eating, going to festivals or talking about books or ideas or teaching or politics over bubble tea. That has left me very little time to lay on table for hours at a time getting kneaded or stuck with pins, even if it is for my own well-being.

Over the last month as I’ve settled more into a routine and carved out some stable “me” time I’ve found it harder than I thought it would be to schedule an appointment for a massage or acupuncture treatment. In the past I would have become obsessive about it. I would have scheduled something weeks or months in advance just to be sure that I could get in. By the time the weeks passed and it was time for the appointment I’d find that something else had come up and I couldn’t make the appointment, or that I forgot about the appointment completely.

Or I would call everyday trying to see if an appointment had opened in a slot that fit my schedule. I’d drive myself crazy! If this was any other task, say trying to get in touch with my insurance company or a customer service rep at my cell phone provider, I would feel inconvenienced to have to call every day just to see if I might be able to get what I need. Yet to give myself a treat I condoned this obsessive behavior.

We can inadvertently decrease our joy if we focus on treats that don’t fit our lives and our priorities. Even if it’s meant to be enjoyable, if something becomes a hassle it might be best to just stop. Treats, whether big or small, are meant to make life enjoyable – as frequently as possible.

What about you? Do you have something that you lie to do for yourself that has become a hassle? Have you considered finding another treat that isn’t so labor intensive?

Or maybe you’re the opposite altogether, and don’t go through any trouble to treat yourself. Is it because you haven’t found something you love as a treat? Or does the idea just seem ridiculous to you?

I’d love for you to share below in the comments or follow me, @busi_B on twitter.

Mathematical Mythology

When I was a teenager, I loved math. In fact through out grade school I LOVED math. I even participated competitively in academic math competitions. My husband laughs at this fact now, as he is always more accurate in everyday situations that call for doing math in one’s head.

However, the reason I loved math was because it made me feel like I was really doing something. The love affair started with multiplication and increased with the introduction of long division and then later continued with algebra and geometry and calculus… To cover a page in numbers and apply formulas and take 3 pages to do one problem made me feel like I was really learning AND really smart!

There was a rule that I learned in math that I also applied to my life for many years.

I think I first learned it concerning fractions, then it was repeated in algebra and then later in calculus problem I did in physics & chemistry classes.

The rule is: what you do to one side you have to do to the other.

As good as that rule is for mathematics, it isn’t so go when applied to life.

When this rule is applied to life adult life it necessitates consistency. In the world of adulthood it’s a mathematical myth. Consistency has its place, just not in most equations for joy. In fact, it is often counterproductive to increasing joy.

*GASP*

I know, shocking. Ludacris! Let me explain.

Consistency can often lead to boredom. It can lead to dissatisfaction with your life that makes you feel like you are stuck in a rut. Consistency can also lead to increasing frustration related to problem solving because we remain in predictable patterns and habits that blind us to new perspectives or insights. None of this sounds joyful; it sounds frustrating.

So what is the solution to the problem created by exposing this mathematical myth?

The solution is to be responsive. Just like in math class, I’ll show you my work.

Responsive = being present = being attentive = balance = joy

Joy comes from having a balanced life. A balanced life comes from being attentive to the things that come your way; attentive to potential issues and problems so they can be confronted and dealt with quickly and completely AND attentive to opportunities that can bring positive growth and success. To be attentive calls for you to be completely present in every moment you are in, so that you don’t miss opportunities or potential problems. If you are present then you will be appropriately responsive  so that you can communicate your love, your compassion, even your indignation to right a wrong. When you can be appropriately responsive you feel joy from the satisfaction of doing so.

So it is responsiveness, the ability to do what is necessary, not consistency, the ability to do what one always does, that brings about joy.

Have you ever been frustrated by people’s predictable expectations of you? Have you ever felt like you are being the most responsible person you could be, dependable for your co-workers and loved ones, yet you aren’t happy, instead you’re frustrated?

Why don’t you stop trying to be consistent. Stop trying to indicate how much of a responsible adult you are by being the same thing, by having a predictable nature. Instead be present. Attend to the people and issues that present themselves as important. Create balance in your life through being responsive. It will most definitely increase your joy.

Follow me @busi_B on twitter and let me know how our mathematical experiment works out.