Sunday, May 5, 2013

Joy is a State of Mind


“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
- Abraham Lincolm


It’s May; the lusty month of May.  It’s a beautiful month; filled with warmer days, blooming flowers and trees, animals shedding their winter fur, people shedding their warm clothes and walking, running, bicycle riding, and front porch sitting in the sunshine.  It is a time to get out, move our bodies, feel the sun’s rays on our skin and eyes, and take our dogs for leisurely walks.  For some it is a time for weddings or for falling in love with something new.  May is the month of picnics, gardening, and playing with grandchildren in the yard.  Oh, such joy!!!

When I ask clients about their lifestyle and how they try to stay healthy, they mention things like eating well, meditating, finding acceptance, granting forgiveness, practicing yoga, doing daily introspection, and exercising.  I often have to ask, “What about finding joy and having fun?”  An apple a day may (or may not) keep the doctor away, but fun and joy are even more integral to our happiness and vitality. 

I just received a phone call from my nephew so excited at seeing a large fish in the pond where he was fishing.  His voice exuded joy and there was no doubt he was having a blast.  It makes me wonder when adults stopped giving joy and fun their rightful place in creating a happy life.

As parents we put our children first, juggle work, parenting, household chores, cooking and more.  Here in the United States, we are lucky if we get two or three weeks off a year from our work.  Where does that leave room for such essential things like having fun and cultivating joy?

In the United States we don’t put a lot of value in making time for fun and joy.  In Europe and other parts of the world, they take at least four weeks off in a row to just be, or visit other places, and take vacations.  They also take three or more hours off in mid-day to rest, rejuvenate, eat, and then resume their work day.
Recently I was speaking with a male friend of mine who is a doctor.  He has four children, a thriving practice, and is always pushing himself to do and be more.  I asked him what he does for fun.  He looked at me, thought for a moment, and said, “I like to see my children do well, and that is what fun is for me.”  While that is a great sentiment, it still doesn’t allow time for him alone to have fun and revitalize himself.

For me, laughing with friends, seeing compelling movies, creating wholesome and unusual meals, trying new restaurants, reading a good book, watching the birds fly and talk, walking my dogs, taking long walks, seeing and experiencing new places, dancing around to music, and being with my husband are all fun and joyful for me.  In 2013, I want to make even more time for the things that bring me joy.  How about you?  I dare you to make more time to play and laugh and have fun in your daily round.  During the month of May I will share my stories of fun, joy, and delight if you will!  Sound like a deal?


Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Tips
One of the things I love to do is have fun in the kitchen.  Today I am thinking of what I can create that is a little different and fun to eat.  I decided to make a rice pilaf with other dishes; making rice more fun to eat with different flavors that burst in our mouths.

This is simple: I make one cup of rice. As it is mostly cooked, with just a little water still in the pot, I add two teaspoons of curry powder with coconut milk, and one teaspoon soy sauce. I then add slivered almonds, ½ cup raisins, and ¼ cup chopped cilantro.  For those who don’t like cilantro, add celery or celery root, or parsley.

This is fun, healthy, with a crunch and spice to add pizzazz.

Or if you prefer, take a cookie recipe for chocolate chip cookies and change it up a bit. Instead of wheat flour, I use 1 cup almond meal, and one cup oat flour.  Instead of butter I use either ½ cup coconut oil, or olive oil or grape seed oil.  Instead of sugar I use ¼ cup rice syrup and ¼ cup either xylitol or stevia for sweetener.  Then I add the chocolate chips, chopped nuts if you like, and even raisins or dried cranberries.

Try it and see if you like it. Feel free to share your fun recipes with me.
Here is to a more fun filled and joyful life!