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Excerpted from Creating a Life of Joy by Salle Merrill Redfield. Copyright 1999 by Salle Merrill Redfield. Excerpted by permission of Time Warner Books and Time Warner Bookmark.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"The fact is that none of us are entirely alone, facing insurmountable problems. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel."

Salle Merrill Redfield, 
Creating a Life of Joy
, Part 1

We are all capable of living lives characterized by great joy. Within each of us is an amazing human spirit that is strong enough to overcome pain and disappointment. And no matter what our current situation happens to be, or what beliefs we may currently harbor about ourselves, we can tap into that inner strength and wisdom and move forward to create more joy.

At times we diminish our ability to experience joy by being preoccupied with the past. When we do this, we allow what took place ten or twenty years ago to influence our lives more than what's currently happening. A disturbing childhood event can leave us frozen with doubt and fear. We may begin to believe consciously or unconsciously that we are either unable to have a happy life or are unworthy of having one. But these experiences can be transcended, opening us to a whole new level of joy.

Someone going through a divorce or a relationship breakup may think, "My life is ruined. I'll never be happy because she left me." He focuses more on his loss than on building a new life for himself. Anyone who has ever ended a relationship only to later enter into a better one knows that time heals this wound. The popular singer Garth Brooks expresses this idea beautifully in the song "Unanswered Prayers." In this song Brooks sings about running into his high school sweetheart and realizing how grateful he was that the relationship didn't work out. At the time it ended he felt pain about the loss. Since the breakup, however, he married a woman he truly loved, and because of all the love in this marriage he realized that the breakup was actually a blessing. The song serves as a reminder that sometimes when a prayer isn't answered, it is because there is something better in store for us. This is not to diminish the discomfort of a relationship ending. It can be painful and it takes time to heal. But it doesn't have to stop us from moving on and experiencing love again.

Financial strains and physical concerns can also leave us with little energy to create lives of joy. In such cases, the present situation can make us feel stuck and unable to move forward. Here it is very important to avoid the belief that our problems are somehow different from the problems other people have faced and are therefore unchangeable or special. Regardless of our situation, someone somewhere has already faced a similar set of circumstances and found a way to bring joy back into his or her life.

The fact is that none of us are entirely alone, facing insurmountable problems. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Most successful people have suffered disappointments and setbacks, if not utter failure. And everyone has had loss. It seems to come with the territory of being human. What also comes with the human condition is the ability to prevail over any challenge and to use our experiences for personal growth. For a while we may feel hopeless and unsure of what to do, but eventually we can find the strength and wisdom to use the experience for our highest good.

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