My mom passed in 2012. She has visited me one time in a dream since, during which she imparted wisdom I feel compelled to share: Choose Joy. Her message was that we have the power to choose joy no matter what the circumstance is that we are enduring in this life. Her transition from this world to the afterlife sent me on a voracious mission seeking info about spirituality. Shortly after she passed, I discovered a book by Anita Moorjani called Dying to be Me.
Anita Moorjani had cancer for 4 years. She was in a coma for 2 weeks and then she died for 30 minutes. She says she then experienced the after life. She says was given the choice of returning, which she chose to do, so that she could share what she learned.
Although I could never sum up her entire incredible book in a few bullets, I will offer you a few of my favorite nuggets. If this topic is of any interest to you, I highly recommend reading this book in it’s entirety.
- We come from and return to perfect love.
- In our unlimited expanded state of pure consciousness, we are more magnificent than we can possibly fathom.
- When we feel pain, when we feel lost, we have simply forgotten our magnificence.
- Our purpose in this life is to be ourselves fearlessly, to let our light shine, to show the world the beauty of our soul and of our heart, without apology.
- The foundation of our being is unlimited joy. As such, it does not serve us to beat ourselves down and treat ourselves harshly, forsaking our truth, denying the beauty of our soul.
Around this same time, on the other side of the world, with a completely different background and completely different set of circumstances, a man named Dr. Eben Alexander also had an NDE. His situation was centered around meningitis. He is a trained neurosurgeon who studied at Duke and Harvard. What he considers remarkable about his story is that he deems himself the last person who would ever start talking about an NDE as a self proclaimed, rather pragmatic scientist and doctor. His first book about this experience was called Proof of Heaven. What I loved was how similar and how remarkably different their experiences were. The similarities centered around a foundation of joy as our being and unconditional love.
I was recently gifted his follow up book, The Map of Heaven. In this follow up, Alexander offers that we are fortunate enough to live in a time where science and religion are going to begin to support one another again. He also offers letter upon letter he has received since publishing Proof of Heaven about similar experiences and reasons people believe in the afterlife.
This particular passage by Natalie Sudman from her book, Application of Impossible Things, about her NDE during the Iraq War when her Humvee was blown to bits, really popped out for me. It sums up my Choose Joy methodology completely and perfectly. I hope it inspires you as well.
Buddhists have said, “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” Understanding that I designed my experience from start to finish and being assured through my experiences out-of-body that my life as is has meaning and value, suffering is impossible. Even coming to consciousness in a charred truck sprayed with blood, or lying in a hospital bed curled up in a fetal position in excruciating pain, or puking my guts out from an anesthesia hangover (the worst!), or contemplating 50 years of double vision, I’ve been reminded of the underlying joy of being that I experienced most vividly out-of-body. This is not happiness, which seems to me to be more a response to environment and circumstance than a constant interior state. I can be depressed, fearful, worried, irritated, angry — in other words, unhappy, with my circumstances or environment while feeling interested, curious and even excited about the circumstances or environment, my own creation of it, and my own actions and emotions while in it. I don’t always enjoy the fact that I’m in this world, or enjoy being in this particular circumstance, but I always feel the foundational joy of being as a conscious, creative, expansive personality exploring experience, and enjoy the humor inherent in that.
Choose Joy has been my mantra since my mom passed, yet I have struggled to share this wisdom with many of my more pragmatic students who confuse choosing joy with being perpetually, inauthentically happy. Sudman’s summation is perfect. It explains that brilliant paradox of having the capability to choose joy even if things aren’t perfect in our eyes. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.