A famous yoga master once said that the goal of life is to know what your purpose is and to learn to love it. The goal of the ancient Vedic tradition in India is even simpler: to love your life. It sounds overly elementary, and maybe even trite, but its simplicity is deceptive. Philosophers, poets, psychologists and priests have have all struggled with how we can learn to love our lives. Of course we all have moments that we love, people that we love, activities that we love, but can we really love all of our lives?
I think we can. It begins with radical affirmation. We start by saying, "Yes" to everything. If we affirm every part of ourselves, then we are celebrating a deeper, richer story --an autobiography that encompasses all of our humanity, not just the parts we are proud of. When we learn to include all of ourselves in our self-awareness, we begin to understand what all those philosophers and poets have been telling us. We see that the duality of our nature and of the whole Universe is central to existence.
Of course, radical affirmation by itself is not enough to create the kind of love the yogis and priests have been advocating. In tending the garden of our soul (a popular Christian and Vedic metaphor), we must do some weeding, and allow for some plants to die. Some of our efforts must fail so others can succeed. Ultimately, though, it is in our failures that our creativity flourishes. If we can accept and affirm our whole selves, change those aspects of ourselves we need to change, and celebrate our inevitable failures along the way, we can love our life. As one of my greatest teachers puts it, this approach requires effort, but it is the path to sustainable joy.