Okay buckle up, because it’s time to tackle question No#3 “How can I be happy?”
This is definitely rocky ground right here. When it comes to happiness, people tend to fall into two categories (with a small fringe exception.)
The first category is made up of people who think happiness is the supreme goal in life and they are people who think happiness is the supreme goal in life and they are constantly chasing it.
The second category is of people who wish they were happy but have concluded it is impossible for them to be so.
On the fringe (both ends of it) are either people who act happy all the time because of some denial-of-reality world view; or people who think happiness in unimportant and live for some other cause.
As depressing as that is, there is another choice and blessed are those who make it. If you’ve read the “About me” you know that I started this blog for the purpose of hope, among other things. In my Christian faith there is a person known as the Holy Spirit, when the Holy Spirit is around certain traits appear, among which are love, hope, joy, and peace. I want to talk about joy and peace a bit.
I’m going to refer to a recent movie “Inside Out.” (Comment if you’d like movie or books reviews to be a thing on this blog, or a good site to get them.) Even if you’ve only seen previews you likely gathered that the Joy character is really happiness/positively; and sadness was really depression and negatively. What does it matter? Well, the story was sad but it had a good ending. I’m not going to outline it, but I was intrigued because so often people assume joy is just an elevated form of happiness. Joy is a mysterious thing which no one has ever been able to explain or define, only those who experience it know what it is. Happiness, dear friends, is a feeling and an attitude. Which is fine and I am not bashing it. I want to be happy as much as the next person; but, chasing happiness is not the way to get it. Happiness is a bit like a wild bird. If you chase it, it flies away. It might come close if you don’t try to catch it. Happiness as a feeling can depend on everything from how your day goes, to what you eat, to hormones. Happiness as an attitude is entirely up to you. (That’s where positivity is a big help.) But I propose that Happiness does not satisfy, you always want more.
So then, if you’re wiling, go a little deeper. Deep happiness comes from peace. Peace is one world almost nobody knows the meaning of anymore. Stress. Fear. disaster. Tragedy, Insane. Unstable. Those are the words of our cultures, no matter where you live. These words get in our minds and our souls and affect us more than we realize. Try an experiment. Unplug from everything for even ten minutes and if you succeed, what emotions start rising to the surface?
Love. I talked a little about it in part two and I’ll be talking more about it later, so suffice it to say, there is no joy or peace where there is no love.
Joy does not come from having a perfect life but from having an imperfect one and overcoming. Joy is akin to the thrill of winning a championship, or in any sport you’ve worked hard at to excel in. That is joy; but joy goes even deeper still. Joy is what comes from knowing all is well, or all will be well. Joy is the exhilaration of realizing you will be finishing the race no matter what obstacles are thrown at you. Joy is also present when someone forgives you from their heart or does an act of true love for you. When you feel like your heart is singing, joy is the song. Maybe you’ve never felt it, and that’s okay, I spent many years when joy was a foreign concept to me. I will unashamedly admit I never tasted joy or peace till I became a Christian in 2012. Joy also comes when you feel right inside; and joy does not shut out sadness nor ignore it. I want to be clear, sadness in not depression nor negativity, though it can turn into those things. (If you struggle with depression, and especially if you take medication, I strongly recommend looking up Dr. Caroline Leaf, you can find her on YouTube and she’s also written books.) Joy will shut out both depression and negativity, but as I said, not sadness. Joy is the strength to accept sadness yet still know deep down that it’s all going to be okay. A human being can not make themselves joyful, but they can open themselves up to it. Joy can never be taken by force, nor self-generated, only given. The beautiful thing is when we have joy, sooner or later, we will be happy. Provided we do not let anything steal it. (Hint: Don’t suppress anger or pretend any negative emotions do not exist, not that you should take them out on other people, deal with them in a mature way. I give them to God, and I journal, ad sometimes vent to a trusted person.)
Giving joy is a really good way to keep it in yourself; and soaking up beauty or hanging out with good friends are two great ways to get some; but it originally only comes from one Being, and I think you all know who I mean. That’s today’s truth: “If you want to have joy go to the source.”