What a gorgeous Spring day it is in London! A completely clear blue sky. All the parks are full of leafy trees and delighted British sunbathers.
As an Australian, it is always entertaining to me how excited Brits get when the sun comes out. Any ‘stiff upper lip’ is immediately replaced by a type of joyous sun-worship, involving semi-nude park sunbathing, playing with Frisbees and footballs, roller blading with a blaring sound-system, and having a pint with a friend in the sun. When the sun comes out, with all it’s warmth and light, people seem naturally able to access a more innocent, unguarded version of themselves. Wandering around the city, it seems that people are connecting more, laughing more; that they are more relaxed and more themselves.
So often, when we try to prove ourselves and be ‘grown ups’ we feel like we’re hitting our head against a brick wall, but when we allow ourselves just to be, to interact with life with innocence, and to metaphorically play in the sun, we discover real freedom, peace, and joy.
Unfortunately, our current system teaches us that being the perfect grown-up should be our major goal in life, and convinces us that we’ll only be happy or good enough if we do grown-up-ing right. As a result, we often can’t help but yearn to prove ourselves against all sorts of measures we’ve decided are the yardstick of worthiness, and the art of being ourselves and enjoying who we are gets lost by the wayside.
Of course, being a grown-up isn’t all bad. If being a grown-up means acting with integrity and authenticity, trusting the self, being financially secure and contributing to the world in an authentic way, then absolutely: grown-up-ness is a state we should all strive for! But if grown-up-ness means living by strict rules, never allowing vulnerability, measuring our lives, worth, relationships and happiness through a set of tick-boxes, and not letting ourselves enjoy anything until the right boxes are ticked, perhaps it’s not as essential as we thought.
Happiness is an innocent emotion. It doesn’t particularly care about whether we’ve ticked all the boxes. People can be truly joyful in moments when they’ve temporarily forgotten about their boxes (like when the sun’s out in London). And in fact, it’s often when we bend over backwards trying to tick all those rigid boxes, that happiness moves further away.
Why does it do this? Well, firstly: because bending over backwards for long periods of time is painful and exhausting – and neither of those words are synonymous with happiness! But beyond that, it’s because in straining to tick all those boxes, what we are really chasing is worth.
In chasing worth, we must think it exists outside of ourselves. Thinking we have to chase worth creates an illusion that we are not already worthy, and no matter what else we tell ourselves, that assumption creates an emptiness inside. It’s when we realise that we are already enough, that we are already all we need to be, that we’re worthy and we’ve always been worthy, that happiness bursts innocently into our hearts.
The state of innocence and enjoyment of being I’m talking about reminds me of ‘The Sun’ card in Tarot. It depicts a small child, happy and naked, riding a horse in front of a blazing sun. The child is completely innocent and guileless; completely content inside his own Self. The sun shines upon him, symbolising all love, grace and abundance, and, completely free of any need to prove himself, he is able to receive it’s light and warmth with open arms.
When we can achieve inner wholeness and contentment with ourselves, we no longer need to manipulate the world around us for our worth. We no longer have to bend over backwards to tick boxes. We can think clearly, hear our own inspiration, and fearlessly bring all that we are to all that we do. Our goals and aspirations are no longer happiness being dangled like a carrot on a string in front of us. The happiness is inside us. We are happy now, and we are happy as we move towards our goals. The goals themselves are also no longer externally-derived must-tick boxes, but manifestations of what we would do, and of how we would contribute to the world if we were really being our most authentic, blazing selves. They are a manifestation of authenticity and enjoyment of life.
So instead of striving towards your goals to find your worth, bring your worth to you goals and dreams. Bring your full, whole, worthy self to everything you do. Bring your joy, your strength and your innocence. Let the whole of life be a sunny day in the park, and let being grown-up mean being you with authenticity, integrity, innocence and joy.
Lots of love and wishing you every happiness,
A Practice For Innocence
Close your eyes and place your hand over the centre of your chest.
Breathing deeply, connect with your breath and your body. Connect with yourself.
Send love and compassion into yourself. As you breathe, absorb that love and compassion.
Say (silently or out loud): I am enough. I am everything I need to be. Everything I need is inside me. I love myself and I trust myself. I am enough now, and I give myself permission to be joyful! So be it!
Repeat these affirming phrases as often as feels good to you.
Thank yourself for the practice, and when you're ready, open your eyes.
Remember to think those loving thoughts to yourself as you are going about your day.