How to Live a More Joyful Life

For many years I worked with indigenous cultures in Canada.  They taught me many, many things including a deep respect for nature and the world around us.  But one of the great things that I took from their teachings was an understanding of the importance of our ancestors.  We haven’t just arrived here, fresh dropped from the sky like a raindrop that never came to earth before.  We are the product of our past, we are the culmination of thousands of years of evolution and that evolution is built into our DNA.

Being grateful for the journeys of our ancestors and having respect for the paths that they’ve trodden to get us to where we are places a huge importance on how we behave in this next moment.  We are not separate from anything, least of all our ancestors from the past.  They trod the ground that we now stand on.  They evolved our DNA to where we have it right now, and we will in turn pass it on to our children and they will look back on us and the people before us with some sense of gratitude, thankful for where they are, thankful for the history that brought them to their current place.  Thankfulness is a key to the immune system and it is a great key to happiness.

To remain constantly thankful for the past is a simple task.  It means that we can lose our thankfulness for the day, we can go through our emotional dramas as we need to go through them but if we hold a respect and a deep love for where we’ve come from, we hold something entirely precious and this, I think differentiates those who are trying to run from the past and create new lives and therefore overly enthusiastic about breaking away from the history that causes them to be who they are, and those who have a deep reverence for the past and are building on it.

In my own life I was born in the very humble origins of Tasmania in Australia.  A place not necessarily known for its great intellect and wisdom and I was shy about this fact for many years.  From Tasmania we moved to Mildura.  Mildura, at the time was a little country town nobody had heard of.  It was famous for growing oranges and later, for marijuana.  And I hid these facts from the world, even when I worked in America, I hid my Australian origins and created an American accent because I thought that my roots were not important.  I had no gratitude for my past and therefore was obsessed with only having thankfulness for what I’d achieved in the short period I called my life.  I was even intent on separating myself from my own parents.  This existence is shallow, this existence has no core.

Now I really appreciate the fact that I come from the very humble and very beautiful origins of Tasmania, people connected to the earth, people very grounded in the love and the spirit of nature.  And I have a great deal of respect for Mildura, a place where hardworking people, many of them immigrants, came to Australia and merged their lives with the indigenous cultures of Australia to grow oranges out of dust.

I see the story differently now and I see in my past how much could have been affected by having a deep and respectful reverence for where I’ve come from.  I meet people in Australia who have come from other countries, who are trying to recreate their lives but I encourage them to sustain a respect and love for their origins, to bring that culture to Australia, to bring their uniqueness, their accents, their cultural uniqueness into Australia and not lose it.  It doesn’t mean isolation from the Australian culture, it means a natural evolution, an organic growth where the two foreign cultures merge to create a new one, a third culture.  Appreciate your history, appreciate your roots, appreciate your parents most of all.  These people, although they may be flawed, are at the least the greatest gateway to consciousness and love you’ll ever know.