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Living Life Loosely & Experiencing Joy

Today I think about my life and how lucky I am to be alive.

I’ve been a fond believer of “life is short” but perhaps with the wrong perspective. “Life is short” always sat with me as a lack thereof. We are short on time. I must squeeze every ounce of life there is out of every second. I have to hold on tightly to all of life’s fleeting moments.

But with this willful mindset to optimize every moment of life, I lost the essence of what it means to live. I rarely experienced joy. I couldn’t let myself sit still and be content. I didn’t slow down to celebrate, just simply moved right along to the next thing. Years of this habitual way of living led me to only one result.

I would not let myself be happy. It was not a matter of capability. I was perfectly capable and had the privilege of all the right things in my life to be happy. I had no will to be in a happy state of mind.

I had no will to be in a happy state of mind.​

Earlier this year, I was quite satisfied with my life. I experienced joy for the first time. And yet, I had NO idea how to respond or what to think or do, except to self-doubt and wallow in insecurity.

Was this joy real? Do I deserve this? How long will this even last? Should I be preparing for what’s next? What if I’m getting too comfortable with my life?

I’d been holding on to this flower of life too tightly. The moment it bloomed, I couldn’t even enjoy all of its beauty and sweet scents. The more tightly I held on, the more quickly the flower wilted, suffocating from over-care and anguish.

In fact, I’ve over-watered at least three succulent planters in the past year. Let’s just say I have an over-caring thumb, and it’s yet to turn green.

How to Water Succulent Plants

These days, I try not to water my succulents so diligently. I also try to hold myself more loosely. Someone once told me to “be like water” so when life gives you a cup, I can fill it and be the cup. Instead of holding on dearly to the wonderful moments in my life, I fully immerse myself in those moments and cherish them with my utmost attention. By this I mean, I focus my presence on the current context I’m in. I redirect my “input” channels. I use more of my five senses as informational sources and rely less on thoughts and abstract ideas, except for when I’m reading or when I’ve dedicated time to be deep in thought.

Thoughts and abstract ideas are the toughest ones for me to give up. I love being introspective and being in my head. But I recognize now that this was my form of escapism. I have habitually willed myself to not experience the joy that is in my life. Therefore, it’s in my control to reduce my willfulness. What a relief this is, that my own experience of joy is in my hands. I’ve started by practicing gratitude and stepping back to reevaluate my sources of self-worth. By building new habits of mind, I can have the courage to be joyful and be present in my own life.

After all, life is too short.