Tag Archives: Happiness

What’s Really My “God?”

At times I think we all worship at the altars of false gods that fail to satisfy. These can be money, things, possessions, sex, the pursuit of a lover, power, prestige, etc. We all at times worship false gods. All of the above are not bad in and of themselves if they are in perspective and held for good use. But sometimes what happens is that these things, among others, become the focus of our lives. At these times we begin to worship false gods.

Today we might take some time to put things in perspective and think about what REALLY gives us a sense of satisfaction? When I am choosing to be there for others, when I am choosing to live in good ways, when I am thinking in positive ways instead of negative, when I choose compassion and kindness even when my mood is bad, when I respond instead of react . . . then I have an inner sense of peace and well being. Again, like yesterday, I think we are reminded to ask ourselves the question, what is the “kingdom,” what is the legacy that we are building in our lives? When all is said and done, how do I want to be remembered?

No Strings Attached

“They make contributions out of their surplus, but she from her want has given what she could not afford – every penny she had to live on.” (See Luke 21: 1-4)

When I give something, do I place expectations on my giving? If I give something to a friend, do I expect something in return? If I give my time, do I expect it returned? Or do I give, only when I FEEL like giving?

Or, when I give, do I give completely, even when it’s inconvenient, expecting nothing in return?

If I examine my own life, sometimes it’s about expectations and convenience and not about freely giving. At other times, I give freely of what I have.

One thing is clear. I am most happy, most content, when my giving is free, no strings attached. It is in those moments when my heart feels a quiet contentment and knows the care of a loving God who promises that I will be given all that I need, . . . if I just let go. Even when it comes to love, when I cling, life becomes cloudy and difficult. When I let go, life becomes a richer experience.

Throw Some Mud Against The Wall

Yesterday I was speaking with a friend about the grace of awakening to a new way of living and responding to situations that people and Life throws at us.  We spoke of our fascination with learning, in very practical ways, how to be happy, especially when things aren‘t going our way.  We spoke of the joy of learning to let go of expectations and to not base one’s happiness on how another responds to us.  In this conversation she kept saying, “I have so much to learn.  I have such a long way to go to realize these things.”  I encouraged her not to look at how much she has yet to learn or realize, but to celebrate what she has learned right now.  If we keep the attention on how far we’ve yet to go, we’ll never get anywhere.   But if we keep the focus on this moment and what we have learned, this moment will take us to the next, and the next.  The important thing is that we continually do something to grow and learn.

Al-Anon has a litany called “Just For Today,” in which it highlights various simple things that I will do JUST TODAY.  It keeps the focus on the present moment instead of the big picture.  One of the things it says is:  “Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind.  I will study.  I will learn something useful.  I will not be a mental loafer.  I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration” (Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 1972).   Now, notice it doesn’t say I will read VOLUMES.  It says I will read SOMETHING.

What one of us doesn’t want to be happy and to live somewhat peaceably in this life?  What one of us wouldn’t want to learn secrets of living happily and peacefully even when life seemingly becomes very difficult?  What a treasure that would be!  Well, the good news is we can!  We just have to stick with some daily learning.  I heard it said years ago that if you throw enough mud against the wall, eventually some of it will stick.  This is certainly an apt description of my learning process!  If I read a little, meditate a little, am present a little and love a little, . . . eventually some of it will stick!

Throw a little mud against the wall today.

Happiness and the Ever Allusive Boyfriend

Once again, I’m not strictly speaking of finding a boyfriend, but happiness, the ever allusive happiness that we all seek.

Last night at a coffee shop I began reading a book called The Way to Love:  The Last Meditations of Anthony de Mello.  Anthony de Mello was a Jesuit priest and spiritual guide who, in his many books and conferences, brought together Eastern and Western spirituality.  He himself was raised in India so was familiar with Eastern concepts.  If you have not read anything by him or about him I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT!  It’s amazing how very much in line he is with the thinking of Tolle, Dyer, Jung, Frankl and many others who speak of being free of ego attachments and realizing the grace of living happiness in this moment no matter what is happening around us.  These people, I believe, like the Christ, have keys that can make a tremendous difference in living a happy, more peaceful life.  The Way to Love is a very small volume, something you could carry in your pocket, but is packed with lots of insight and practical wisdom that can change the way you go about life!  It’s published by Image Books, Doubleday.

Last night, on the heals of yesterday’s meditation, I read De Mello’s take on ever allusive happiness.  He says we are programmed from birth to believe that we cannot be happy without things, that happiness lay somewhere in the future when I get this person, thing or place.  Or we are programmed to believe that if we just change the situation and the people around us, then we’ll be happy, or when all our desires are fulfilled we’ll be happy.  All of these are FALSE.  It is only when we stop clinging to these things that we begin to experience what peace and happiness is.  It is only when we let go of these things and simply live this moment and accept what is here and now that we can begin to live in a greater state of peace and happiness.  For then we won’t waste a tremendous amount of time and energy trying to get this or that or to change this or that circumstance in our lives (See pp.5-12 The Way to Love) It’s difficult for me to put this in words, but I know what it feels like when I stop looking to the future for happiness, or some person, place of thing.  I know what it is to experience peace and happiness when I accept interruptions to my day, or when my day hasn’t gone as I had planned, or when something seemingly bad happens.  I know what it feels like when I simply accept that and stop resisting it.

I want to continue exploring this.  I find myself being lead to read Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning which chronicles his experiences when he was in a concentration camp in World War II and how he found that even in such horrible and unspeakably inhumane circumstances, one could still be happy.  Imagine the freedom!

The Secret to Happiness

It is precisely in being present to what we’re doing that we discover happiness.

Unhappiness and frustration emanate when we look to something or someone outside of ourselves to make us happy.

Eckhart Tolle, in his book A New Earth: Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose says this. Our purpose in life is ultimately to become present to what we’re doing, to bring consciousness to the world and in so doing we will be joyful. Period! Sounds simple doesn’t it? But just try being fully present to the moment and what you’re doing in that moment without your mind (ego) racing on about what’s happening next, 3 days from now and what happened yesterday! We’ll find it’s not that easy! But I believe he’s got a point. I like his twist on what it is to be joyful and how we discover happiness. Many of us get it backwards and as a result we end up in a consistent state of unhappiness and frustration. Tolle says this:

“When you say, I enjoy doing this or that, it is really a misperception. It makes it appear that the joy comes from what you do, but that is not the case. Joy does not come from what you do, it flows into what you do and thus into the world from deep within you. The misperception that joy comes from what you do is normal, and it is also dangerous, because it creates the belief that joy is something that can be derived from something else, such as an activity or thing. You then look to the world to bring you joy, happiness. But it cannot do that. This is why many people live in constant frustration. The world is not giving them what they think they need” (Eckhart Tollo A New Earth: Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose, p.298). He goes on to say that when we simply become present to what we’re doing we will gradually find that we are more joyful.

Perhaps this is what the Christ spoke of when he spoke of the “kingdom” being in our midst, right here, right now! Perhaps this is what he meant when he said “I have told you these things that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” (John 15: 11). Perhaps that’s what he meant when he told us that we will find ourselves if we forget ourselves (the ego mind).

Perhaps today we could continue the process of attempting to simply be present to what we’re doing in this moment – and see what happens!

Where Did We Ever Get This Notion That God Doesn’t Want Us To Be Happy??

John 15: 9-11

“All this I tell you that my joy may be yours and your joy may be complete!”

I believe it was Thomas Merton who said that one of the hallmarks of a genuine spirituality is laughter.  And any who really knew him would tell you right away that Merton was often to be found telling jokes and rolling about in laughter!

Where did we ever get this notion that God doesn’t want us to be happy?  The Source of all that is DOES want us to be happy, and even more than that, God wants us to be joyful!  True spirituality will lead to joy!  If it doesn’t lead to joy, it’s not authentic.  Look around at “spiritual” people.  Do they exude a sense of joy or do they walk around with pain or fear written in their faces?  Having a spiritual path is about being “redeemed”  from pain and that which weighs us down in life, that we might live life to the full.  If it isn’t, why bother?

Am I feeling a sense of joy in my living and loving?  If I am not, then something in my spiritual practice (i.e. life) needs to be adjusted.  The first question I need to ask if I am feeling stagnant is:  Am I watching my thoughts and reaching out in love to those in need?  Oftentimes I find that I begin to be less joyful when I am mired in negative thinking and when I am only looking to my own needs to the exclusion of the needs of others.  Love and positive thinking are keys to joy.

Look around you.  Look at yourself.  Do you see joy and laughter?  Plant some seeds of joy today, then stand back and watch them grow!

It’s Not About Happiness

It’s Not About “What Makes Me Happy”

If our main concern in life is being happy, happiness, ironically, will always allude us.

How often we run after illusive “happiness.” Parents want their children to be happy. We often hear people say “Whatever it takes to make you happy,” or “whatever it takes to be happy.” How often we think, if I just had a different partner or if he behaved differently, or if I just get this thing, or if I have sex with this person, or if I get this boyfriend or girlfriend, or if I get this job, . . . then I will be happy.

Life is not about being happy. However, I do believe God wants us to be joyful. Joy is different than happiness. Happiness is about ME, it is predominantly concerned with the self, the ego. We seek after this or that to make us happy and the happiness is fleeting. Then we’re on to the next thing. How often we see this in relationships. We look at the other to make us happy. Over time, if that continues to be our main concern, our partner fails in making us happy; and so our heart and our eyes begin to roam elsewhere. And in the process of running after our happiness, we can do a lot of harm to ourselves and others. The grass always looks greener somewhere else. But is it?

Joy, on the other hand, does not emanate from self concern but from concern for others. The most joyful people I know are those who are self giving and concerned for the welfare of others. Their lives aren’t devoid of pain, or moments of sorrow, but their presence exudes joy because they carry within themselves a realization that their lives are making a difference in this world and ultimately that’s what gives life a sense of meaning. I think that’s what Jesus meant when he said in order to find ourselves, we’ve got to loose ourselves. That is, stop running after this or that that you think will make you happy, stop thinking so much about yourself and you will discover deep joy.

We live in a society that screams an opposite message, a message that we need something new, this or that thing, person or place in order to be happy; and we are held in a state of perpetual adolescence instead of growing into mature, loving people and discovering what true happiness is about.

Do you want to be happy? Do something for someone. Happiness is concerned with what I can get from life. Joy comes when my concern becomes not so much what I can get from life, but what I can give to life!