I realize saying “sometimes life eats me” might come off as or sound like a victim position, and I suppose in some ways it is. But the phrase caught my attention which led me to explore its meaning. And, the more I sat with it, the more I realized I only feel this way when I’m not enjoying my life, which happens more than I’d like, and which, of course, happens to all of us. But, why?

Life, in a general sense, can be that way, yes? We take the good days with the bad, the ups with the downs, and the more I look at my own life I realize I really like the ups, and often cringe with the downs. I know, not rocket science, in that who doesn’t not like the “down” parts?

But when the tough times come, and they always do in one form or another, they kick my butt a little, and while I don’t like it, there’s usually a reason. Personally, I’m discomfort averse, but no one ever said life was going to be comfortable, right? Maybe this is why I don’t like getting off my couch, it’s comfortable. Why move? And I do, of course, get off my couch, though I’m not usually happy about it.

Take taxes as an example, please. I knew I was going to owe a bunch of money this year. It helps me to refer to taxes like a vegetable allotment. I’m mostly self-employed now, so I avoided, like the plague, doing my taxes. And I’ll admit, I did this in full consciousness, waiting to do them right up to the night before they were due, literally at the eleventh hour. What’s funny about this, in hind sight, is that I actually enjoyed the five-hour process it took for me to do them. Yes, I ended up owing a chunk of money, but I felt such a great sense of accomplishment. Now, I do have to give some credit to Turbo Tax. That program is super smart. Yes, I did my taxes through my own effort, as in I had to do all the prep, data entry, and submission, which included writing a check. But the whole process was much easier than I thought it would be. And that’s the thing, so often when I think something is going to be super tough or take forever, it isn’t, and it doesn’t. Eventually, it’s the next morning and the sun is out, the birds are chirping, and I’m alive. Life didn’t actually eat me, but it was close.

Ends up I’m not only alive, I’m breathing, feeling good about what I’ve accomplished, and gaining strength in the awareness that I am capable of weathering life’s tougher, more unpleasant at times, requirements. This doesn’t mean the entire process was a cake walk, because it wasn’t, but I moved through the so-called “bad” experience of doing my taxes knowing I would owe the government a good amount of money, and I didn’t parish, I survived.

But there’s something deeper here which has to do with what the Italians call “La Dolce Vita.” I’ve written about this before, and it bares repeating. La Dolce Vita means the sweet life. It really does exist, but in the paradigm I’m living in of “good and bad,” “easy and tough,” somehow the sweetness gets lost, and the search for it becomes, often times, all encompassing. I’ve been after this sweetness my whole life. Donuts, cookies, cakes and pies are my go-to treats, but these little goodies are temporary fixes. They don’t really give me what I want and ultimately need, although they are delicious. Okay, every so often they give me what I need, but these goodies are not a heal all pill. And we do like our pills. You can substitute any number of things we all do like go shopping, watch a lot of television, smoke pot, and you start to see we become expert at getting what we need, even if it’s in an around the bend kind of way, and in a manner that’s really more empty than sustaining.

What does sustain us people you ask? Well, okay, you didn’t really ask, but, and I’ll share, for me it’s taking a moment to stop and smell the beautiful white roses newly blooming here in our LA spring season. It’s stopping to notice how much that little baby’s smile lights up everyone around him. And it’s smelling the freshly baked bread in the air as I drive by my local market. The sweetness of life seems to appear for me when I slow down, which is when all my senses come alive – my eyesight, my smell, my hearing, my touch, and of course, my taste.

When these elements of my awareness are activated, life comes into focus in a way that actually allows me to enjoy it. I believe this little gem is one of the great secrets to living a happy life, that and licking the buttercream frosting from the beaters of your grandmother’s mixer. Please tell me you’ve done that at least once in your lifetime?

So how much do you stop to smell the proverbial, no, how about the actual real roses? Our culture values speed. We give gold medals for it. Faster, stronger – pretty soon we’ll all be bionic. But while doing all this rushing, life passes us by. We’re missing it. We’re missing our friends and families, our hobbies, and the sunsets. And we’re eating meals out of plastic containers instead of picking fresh vegetable out of our own garden, and then we wonder why we feel such emptiness, not to mention what happens to our environment with all the plastic waste.

We’re starving for the sweetness of life, and that only comes when we slow it all down and live fully in each moment. @barryaldenclark (Click to Tweet!)

I also believe this is where care and respect reside.  And I think we can all agree the world needs those two qualities now, as much as it ever has.  Well, come to think of it, we have always needed these qualities, they make us human.

Sometimes I think being born into the world as a Capricorn, known as the workhorse of the Zodiac, has given me the greatest opportunity to learn how to enjoy life. I can work, and I do, and I love it, and sometimes I can overdo it, and that’s when life starts to get dark. My mood dulls, and I automatically start looking for something, anything, to remind me of the sweetness of life. A piece of dark chocolate, an oatmeal raisin cookie, or some French fries. Those make me particularly happy, and comforted. It’s like we’re built to automatically seek out some level of sweetness when we get too severe. All work and no play makes Barry hungry. And I will eat it. Just ask my pants.

When life eats me, I eat back, which is fine. It’s my signal that I need to take a walk, spend some time around a friend’s baby, or play with kittens. And prayer and meditation help as well, because all these activities slow me down, and allow me to experience all the nuances of my life.

Sometimes this feels like an exact science for me. And I realize, more and more, that I need to have fun, laugh, and eat the pizza. And while working is super important, I need to spend time with friends, call my mother, and go for a hike.

La Dolce Vita is there for me, and it’s available for all of us. It’s a choice which requires me to step outside my normal patterns of thinking and acting, to make a different, more self-honoring choice to nurture myself, which in turn will reward me and everyone else around me richly.

If only I take a moment to choose the sweetness. Life can be different. It can be better, and it’s free. It’s just one choice, and then another choice away. So, if life tries to eat you, bite back by slowing down, doing what’s right in front of you, and then make sure to watch the sun set, take a walk in the woods, or call a friend. This is when our lives really get the chance to bloom. And if you must eat the cookie, then please enjoy every bite. That is La Dolce Vita.

Barry Alden Clark has coached thousands of individuals in connecting more deeply with their hearts, their life purpose, and helped create a pathway for these folks to move forward in a direction more aligned with who they truly are. He & his creative partner Eliza Swords are currently delivering uplifting content on social media every Wednesday via “Best Day Ever with Barry and Eliza”, a Facebook and You-Tube phenomenon reaching thousands of people around the world. They are also inspiring love and joy through creating heartfelt and entertaining content via their production company Pure Honey Ink. Currently they have projects in development for social media, film, television and publishing. You can reach Barry at www.barryaldenclark.com.

Image courtesy of Daria Shevtsova.