Happiness and Joy

How do you measure your happiness?

Chances are if you are dieting, it is measured by whether you gain or lose weight. The changes may only be temporary, but they seem very important at the time. Of course, it’s possible to look deeper and evaluate according to the lifestyle changes you’ve made, even if they don’t directly impact your weight, but represent a healthier life plan for you.

Do you have other happiness measures?

Perhaps the size of your bank account, the funds in your investment portfolio, the car you drive, the number of friends you have, your athletic prowess or some other skill you possess?

Maybe your happiness is tied to something else entirely.

When I ponder this, I often land in the same place, asking myself whether my happiness is merely temporary? Is it easily stolen by someone else, based on their comments or opinions? Is my happiness too fragile or dependent on what happens to me?

These questions prompt me to reconsider the basis or source of my happiness. I confess I’ve struggled with this a lot.

I remember a time in college when my whole life seemed to be falling apart. My studies had stagnated, I had the absolute worst dorm room on campus, right next to the stairwell and common area lounge, facing the side of a hill so that little light penetrated and constantly being barraged by noise all day and all night.

Then my grandfather died. I was very close to him, and it hurt to think he was gone, and I didn’t even get to say goodbye. Not only that, but I also wasn’t invited home for the funeral. I guess my parents thought I’d miss too much school. Not one of their best decisions.

It’s likely you’ve had your own experiences of suffering, where happiness seemed a distant memory, if any memory at all.

Of course, life is balanced. There are up periods of happiness, and they are wonderful while they last, but some part of us knows they are temporary. There is an ebb and flow to happiness, and I believe everyone moves through its curve.

I wonder, what do we do when the unhappiness comes for us?

It took a long time for me to realize the problem I have with happiness is the source it arises from…my thoughts. I seem completely reliant on what I am thinking, placing my treasure there. Inside me, I know there must be a better way.

So, I do what I always do when my mind cannot solve a problem in my life, I drop into my heart to see what I am feeling, because my feelings shed light, guiding me forward.

I realize I have to wait, giving my mind a chance to release its hold and allowing my feelings to become clear. While I wait, I breathe in and out slowly, letting my heart open.

An awareness dawns on me. Happiness is fleeting because it is of the mind. It is my head telling me how I should feel. No wonder it comes and goes, because my mind wanders everywhere.

The awareness draws out a truth I have hidden inside. A truth that tells me happiness will always fluctuate.

It shares with me that what I want is…joy. Joy comes from the heart. It raises me up and cannot be stolen or destroyed.

I want to know more. I want to know the source of joy.

I am told, joy is the source. Joy and love are joined, forever in union, always available to me.

How, I ask?

I am told, remember that you are part of this joy, this love. Look outward into the world and see its reflection everywhere. Remember there is joy and love, even in those things you consider to be unhappy. Look past the surface. Look deeper and you will see the truth.

I want to believe this. I want to believe that I am a part of the joy and love that is my source. I want to remember.

For this moment, I understand I am being asked to trust this truth. It is up to me. And it is up to you too. What shall we do?

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