How many times have you heard yourself or someone else say:
- “I don’t want to get too attached in case it doesn’t work out” or
- “I don’t usually get too excited about things.”
Not Getting Excited About Things = Not Fully Experiencing Joy
Although there is value in living life without attachment, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get excited about things. People sometimes think non-attachment will protect themselves from getting disappointed or hurt, so they numb themselves or withdraw in an attempt to stay safe. But not getting “too” excited about something doesn’t make the hurt any less. This is just wishful thinking. Nothing can keep you safe from loss.
Not getting excited about life prevents us from fully experiencing joy.
An extraordinary life is one where you show up and be seen, where you risk being vulnerable and hurt, where you step into the arena knowing you will be battered and bruised. But showing up and being seen is so worth it. It makes us uncomfortable but this is where the magic happens.
Lean In to Joy
Brené Brown shared a story of a man she had interviewed with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday. The man told Brené, “I just stayed right in the middle. That way if things didn’t work out, I wasn’t devastated and if they did work out, it was a pleasant surprise.”
The man was in a car accident in his sixties and his wife of forty years was killed. He said, “the second I realized she was gone, the first thing I thought was, I should have leaned harder into those moments of joy because that did not protect me from what I feel right now.”
You’ll Never Expect to be Medevaced
As a medevac helicopter pilot, I see people in the midst of a life-altering experience. No one expects that today is the day they will be medevaced. My patients are completely outside of their comfort zone. The uncertainty of their situation can manifest in many ways, but mostly it shows up as intense anxiety.
Last week, as we loaded the patient into the helicopter, tears leaked out of her eyes. She was feeling pain, but more than that, she was feeling terrified: scared of flying in a helicopter for the first time, scared of being sick, scared of not ever getting better. Scared.
Staying safe and not getting excited about things didn’t prevent her from feeling scared. It didn’t prevent her from getting medevaced. It didn’t make it any easier.
You Can’t Avoid the Pain of Loss
I’ve experienced a lot of loss in recent years: the death of my father, the end of three year relationship and a coworker in a helicopter accident. Sometimes I feel exhausted by it all and I wonder how much more I can handle.
But would I trade the times of loss for the moments of joy? The dancing to Gloria Gaynor’s, “I Will Survive” with my mother and knowing that we will all be okay even without my Dad? The hulu-hooping in my kitchen with friends? The delight of being alive?
The Ordinary Moments Make Life Extraordinary
“Leaning in” to joy and really getting excited about things requires gratitude. It is the ordinary moments that make life extraordinary. I think of them as, “there is no where I’d rather be” moments.
Last week I was sitting with a friend on a peice of driftwood in Seward overlooking Resurrection Bay. It was stunningly beautiful. But it wasn’t until I said,“there is no where I’d rather be than right here with you” that the moment was fixed in my mind as perfect.
These moments are often more frequent when we are outside in the natural world, but they can also happen when we are in conversations with our children. Or sitting close with our partners. Or laughing with friends. All you need to do is pay attention.
The Simple Path to an Extraordinary Life
Acknowledge the ordinary. Make it extraordinary. It is that simple.
What extraordinary moments have you experienced recently? Share in the comments.