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The Sun Is Always Shining

June 10, 2009

Sometimes I love to fly.  Sometimes it makes me want to vomit. Sometimes it fills me with joy because it teaches me a valuable life lesson and gives me a great idea for a blog post.

Much of my experience depends on my state of mind prior to and during my flight; and luckily when I flew last Thursday I was in a great mood.  Yesterday my mood was a little darker, but we’ll get to that in a minute. Overall the experience wasn’t perfect, especially on my trip home when violent thunderstorms closed down the Philadelphia airport for an hour, causing me to miss my connection in Charlotte, and, more importantly, forcing me to cancel a lunch date with a friend. No, it wasn’t fun having to take three separate flights just to get from Asheville, NC to Islip, NY, for my visit. But man, my flight adventures over the past week were a kick ass metaphor for life and the way I’m trying to live it!

When I took off last week the weather was cloudy and rainy. I left before sunrise, though, and on the first leg of my flight saw the world start to light up. The second leg of my trip also left from a cloudy and rainy destination; in fact, the whole Eastern Seaboard seemed to be cloudy that day. When I was high up in the sky at cruising altitude, however, I remembered one of the reasons I love flying: the sun is always shining.

Between Charlotte and Philadelphia and Philly and Islip, I got to enjoy the sunshine.  I always request a window seat and love looking down at the landscape below, but on this day I was mostly looking down at patchy clouds and around me at bright, sunny skies. This made me think, “Hey! I should write an article about how the sun is always shining, even when it’s cloudy and miserable out, and how that’s kind of like life. There’s always a bit of brightness somewhere, we just can’t always see it.” Then I landed in New York, saw my sweetheart (who has been away from home for two months!) and promptly forgot all about my brilliant blog idea.

I spent 4 and a half days in East Hampton, New York, which I will post pictures of soon. As with any trip, it had its ups and downs.  Spending the entire first day holding Anthony’s hand and catching up was more wonderful than I can describe. The constant rain all day Friday was kind of a bummer. The fantastic Italian food (which I miss now that I live in the south) was delicious. The fact that Anthony still worked most days and left me to entertain myself occasionally got boring.  The gorgeous scenery and homes were a pleasure to look at. That I spent the last 16 hours of my trip feeling sad and weepy because I had to leave and spend 3 or 4 more weeks without my love was a rough way to end my time up north.

By the time Anthony dropped me off at the airport, I had still not recovered from my weepy-ness. Although I’d spent time on my trip reading some very positive and uplifting books and continued with my affirmations, future affirmations, and writing, I just felt sad and off balance.

Then I got on the plane. As usual, I had my window seat. I pulled out a copy of Edible East End, a publication about food and harvest in the Hamptons and east end of Long Island, to continue feeling like I was on vacation. We took off without incident and soon were cruising at 30,000 feet. Every now and then I’d peek out the window, where I could see the left wing of the plane and the sky surrounding it. About halfway through the trip we encountered the most amazing scenery I have ever experienced on a plane ride.  I genuinely regret not pulling out my camera to snap some photos through the window, but the teeny regional airplane I was stuffed into made it feel impossible to remove from bag from its position under the seat in front of me to root around for my camera.

However, I searched the web to try to come up with something similar to what I saw and found this:

above-the-clouds 2

View the site where I got this picture here.

As gorgeous as this photo is, it still does not fully capture how amazing and glorious the scene was above the clouds. It was like flying above a glittering cloud city; there were long expanses of thick, quilted cloud carpets, giant piles of cloud mountains, even a section of clouds with a break where I could see yet another layer of clouds below. It was breathtaking.  And yes, up there the sun was shining.  Which brings me to my point.

This experience reminded me of my earlier idea to write about the fact that the sun is always shining in the sky somewhere, and the fact that there is always something shiny going on in your life, if you look hard enough.

I needed a reminder of this myself at this point, because I certainly had not seen life as favorably and positively as I wanted to during my entire trip. The whole time I was flying above Cloud City, which was maybe 15 minutes, I was thanking God, the Universe, my guides, anyone I could think of, for this beautiful experience. It brought me right back to my happy, centered place, one in which I think, no, I know anything and everything is possible for me in this life.

And that’s what I want to teach others.  Parts of life can suck. I know that just as well as you do. But we are here to enjoy life. One of our purposes in life is to experience it fully and find out what brings us joy. I know you may have been taught differently; that life is a bitch and then you die, or that you’ll have to do back-breaking work your entire life and never get ahead.  It’s not true.

Try the tips below for keeping a bright outlook on life.

1. When you go through a rough time, whether it lasts a minute or a month,  learn from the experience.

You are going to have tough times and cranky moods, sometimes daily.  How can you make the best of them?  Learn something from every single incident.  If you get in the same rut every day with your spouse over who is going to cook dinner, use it as an example to examine the reasons behind the rut and what you can do to change it. If you are battling with sadness but don’ t know why, make a conscious effort during your blue times, or after you’re out of them, to journal, meditate, and move your body, allowing peace to come to you.  The more you learn from your down times, the more likely you are to remember those lessons the next time you’re not feeling so great.  Over time you’ll have fewer and fewer bad times, and you’ll see the sun peeking through the clouds much more often.

2. Gratitude, gratitude, and more gratitude.

I can’t stress how helpful prayers, thanks, and gratefulness are to keeping a bright and shiny outlook on life.  At the very minimum, spend a few minutes before you go to bed at night naming off some things you’re thankful for.  I don’t care if you start small, like being thankful for having most of your teeth and at least one outfit that doesn’t smell like manure.  Work up to big things, though, like being thankful for your life, the world, your experiences, etc.  Sometimes, for fun, when I can’t sleep I’ll go through the alphabet and name something that starts with each letter that I’m thankful for.  For instance, “A” is really easy for me because my spousal equivalent is Anthony and I have a terrific friend named Amy. “B” might be bananas, or bravery, or Bill Nye the Science Guy. I usually drift off before I get to the end of the alphabet.

I also encourage you to push your gratitude further by writing daily in a gratitude journal, even if you write some of the same things every day. As I’ve written about before, I think it’s a great idea to also write down what you’re grateful for that hasn’t yet happened. For instance, if you’re not in a relationship but what to be, give thanks for the amazing love in your life.  If you want to lose ten pounds, give thanks for it as if it’s already happened. You get the idea.  I can personally attest to this working to improve your positive outlook on life.

3. Do something that brings you joy every single day, no exceptions.

When you’ve got a free moment, write down ten things, preferably inexpensive items, that bring you joy.  It could be anything from a hot shower to dancing to the radio to walking your dog to a glass of wine on the back porch.  Do one of these items every single day. There is no reason in the world why you shouldn’t be experiencing joy in your life each day. I also encourage you to add to your joy list and make it as long as you possibly can.  Post it up somewhere you can see it, as it will remind you that you do have things in your life that bring you joy, even when you’re not feeling that great.

There is always a glimmer of sunlight to be found, and trust me, the more often you look for it, the more frequently you’re going to find it.  When you start finding it more frequently, you’ll start looking for it even more.  Before you know it, your whole life will be drenched in joy, happiness, good fortune, and of course, sunshine.

Be Joyful!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 11, 2009 11:09 am

    This post was so positive and uplifting and it was JUST what I needed. Where I am, it’s gloomy and grey and I’m feeling pretty unmotivated right now, but this post made me very happy. I’m feeling very joyful right now so thank you!

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