Change your Expat Life
How to Celebrate Life and Create Connection
I once met an incredible Namibian lady near the salt pan of Sossusvlei. Salma’s energy was contagious. Intrigued, I asked her what her secret was, and she told me: “This is easy, I just do the happy dance.”
The moment Salma gets up, she does a happy dance for the day that’s starting. She does not even turn on music. She just thinks about all the amazing things she has in her life. She thinks about her family, the guests she meets at the lodge, her friendships, love, the fantastic wildlife she gets to see and protect. She thinks about all the positive things she’s accomplished and all the things she doesn’t pay much attention to.
And then she imagines that all of it is gone. Nothing is left. The acknowledgement of all that would be lost helps her feel enormous gratitude for what she has—and this is her secret.
If you want more joy in your life, all you have to do is feel gratitude for what you have already. This is what creates true joy, and it’s what you need to stop looking for false pleasures.
Practicing gratitude for what we have in life is an old practice. I find it a little artificial at times, which is why I became intrigued by Salma’s happy dance. It does not need to be a dance, but just imagine all the things you have and then imagine that all of it is gone. This is such an easy practice, however you want to do it. You don’t need music, you can do it alone, you can do it with your children, friends, or partner … it’s a great exercise to connect you to what matters the most.
How to create your own happy dance
To create your own version of Salma’s happy dance, there are only 3 key steps:
- Close your eyes.
- Picture your life as it is today, scanning through the people in your life, all the things you have around you, and the experiences you’ve had.
- Imagine that everything is gone. It vanishes. Nothing is left.
Although you might be wondering what’s “happy” about imagining everything gone, this is a powerful practice for focusing on what you have. It helps you stop spinning in dissatisfaction and comparison. It helps you focus on what really matters to you. You don’t have to look perfect on Instagram. You don’t have to compare your life with others. You don’t have to feel that you are not good enough. Focusing on those thoughts is optional—and the happy dance helps you choose to focus on what you actually care about and feel grateful for.
Notice the thoughts that come up when you do your own version of the happy dance. Try it out for a week and notice the difference in your day when you simply start by reconnecting to what matters most to you.
Take it from Salma: the key to joy is gratitude.
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