Most psychotherapists, like most culturally entranced, lie to you. Perhaps unwittingly, perhaps with good intention. We are led to believe that we can heal towards happiness by solving the problems of our past, by understanding them, figuring them out, gaining insight, fixing what was broken. When, indeed, if we actually want to thrive anew, we must choose to think, feel, act and BE who we want to be in the present, molding our future, despite our past. We must search within to discover who we are really are, or perhaps who we really want to be, then we must relentlessly decide to think, feel and act that way while masticating every single excuse we used to have about why we can’t, couldn’t, shouldn’t, or wouldn’t be the best we can be.
Often, the very pith of who we really are arises from within the specific types of suffering that have plagued our past. For example, much of my past has been characterized by depression - real, physiological, neurological, “can’t get out of bed”, cry for no reason, numb, dazed and confused, heavy, hopeless, skeptical, doubting, wishing to die… depression.
So, it makes perfect sense then, that who I really am is an expression of JOY. We rise on the ground over which we once stumbled. Why “joy”? Because, fuck depression. Most therapists won’t tell you that. But that’s what it takes - guts and commitment - to say no to who we were and yes to who we want to be.
But, for me its not just joy, that doesn’t have enough edge to it. Ask around, I’m a pretty intense dude. For me, its #JoyfulExcellence. Depression makes us sloppy. It makes us not give a care. Apathy sums it up. So, the alchemy of my life is about transforming depression (ptsd, anxiety, trauma, addiction, etc) into #JoyfulExcellence. It doesn’t matter “why” I was, and sometimes still am, “depressed.” It doesn’t matter if its “genetic” or based on my “early childhood” or “caused” by apparently very valid and sensible reasons. It also doesn’t mean I need to be a jerk to myself or others and invalidate or minimize those potentially very valid explanations. But explanations really are the booby prize. They don’t make us healthier or happier and they often anesthetize the will required to re-create ourselves. Anymore than a compassionate acknowledgment that whatever past experience we are lamenting truly did suck and may have been “unfair”, breathes life into what is better off dead.
Now, I know there are those who know me who might be like, “Mike’s a lot of things, even admirable things, but joyful?” I make this point to recognize that becoming who we truly are is a process, a journey, a work in progress and our life’s purpose. Put simply, it is super hard work and is not about a finished result, or perfection. We are all born with a blueprint of who we really are that is totally unique - literally one of a kind never to be replicated in all of eternity . And we all have an innate path to traverse in order to explore, learn, discover, grow and create ourselves anew in the image of our own icon of excellence. The details are always different, but the archetypes are the same. Becoming who we really are is the point of life and the way that we contribute our maximal potential to the betterment of everything. And, life’s adversity is perfectly and specifically designed to forge us into being the very unique and best self we can be.
So, for me, depression forges not just joy because “fuck depression, I choose JOY”, but also #Joyful-Excellence because what’s the point of doing anything if its going to be half-assed? I’ve read that being interested in or “wanting” #Joyful-Excellence results in a whole bunch of excuses as to why I can’t be, which perpetuates my past characterized by depression; and, that being committed to #JoyfulExcellence means I will do whatever it takes to turn lead into GOLD. This is spot on advice.
For me and my specific past, this means being committed to do whatever it takes, no excuses. So:
Despite “depression”, I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite “PTSD”, I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite “anxiety” , I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite panic attacks, I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite loved ones dying , I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite my kids aggravating me , I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite my wife losing her keys (again), , I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite tragedy around me , I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite someone hitting my car in a parking lot and not taking responsibility , I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite my boiler needing to be fixed even though I am not as gainfully employed as I need to be, I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite things not going my way, I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite getting sick , I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite injuries, I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite hypochondria, I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite trying to kill myself when I was younger, I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite that I used to drink to the point of puking 5 nights a week , I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite smoking pot day and night for years , I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite feeling like I can’t get out of bed , I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite having an addictive personality , I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite hating social media but finding myself mindlessly scrolling mind-numbingly through Facebook, I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite my house being a mess, I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite feeling like shit from overeating , I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite feeling embarrassed and ashamed , I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite a tendency towards anger , I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite feeling frozen and numb , I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite isolating myself from those who love me, I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite feeling like a fraud, I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite feeling like “I’m not good enough”, I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite feeling out of shape, I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite feeling afraid of seemingly everything sometimes , I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite not being able to control outcomes and make life meet my demands , I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite not making as much money as I want to , I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite not being able to alleviate others suffering as much as I want to , I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite politics , I choose #JoyfulExcellence
Despite stupidity, hatred, ignorance, I choose #JoyfulExcellence
DESPITE ANYTHING OTHER THAN #JOYFULEXCELLENCE, I CHOOSE JOYFULEXCELLENCE!
Life’s adversity can be seen as challenges or threats. When I see everything that is not #JoyfulExcellence as a challenge then it become the very fuel for my becoming #JoyfulExcellence. When I see adversity as a threat I resort back to who I was and believe more in the limitations of my past than I do in who I really am.
Adversity presents problems, projects, or gym equipment.
Problems - Problems are the types of adversity I can influence and change but when I see them as problems I am a victim of life, I am dis-empowered, and re-create my past by thinking, feeling and acting the same way I always have in the face of the same stimuli. This orientation is the norm in the cultural trance, and comprises 95% of people’s complaint-based conversations.
Projects - Projects are also the types of adversity that I can influence and change, but when I see them as projects (what most people in the cultural trance complain about as problems), I am empowered in the present to work to change who I was into who I am and want to be. I can powerfully CHOOSE to think, feel and act differently in the present than I have in the past, in order to create the momentum I value moving into the future.
Gym - These are the types of adversity I can’t change, but when I see them as “the gym” I grow stronger, healthier and happier by working with the resistance, just like lifting weights, in a manner befitting who I really am: #JoyfulExcellence.
So, what are your unique life challenges? What are your projects? Where do you find gym equipment lying around that you can pick up and get in the best shape imaginable? What lead do you need to change into gold? What is your life’s alchemical purpose? Remember, doing the inner alchemy work will result in the most appropriate outer expression and experience that is unique to your design. What do you need to say NO to? What do you want to say YES to? Are you merely interested in these ideas and do you just “want to want”? Or are you committed to opening the gift of your life? What is your #JoyfulExcellence?