So I’ve been dolling out advice left and right lately. I’m not sure what makes me the go-to expert about life in general, but I’ve always been a sounding board for my friends, and I kinda pride myself on being able to give straight-forward, true-for-everyone, honest to goodness truth be told advice without inserting my opinion based on whatever baggage I carry around myself.
One thing on my mind grapes (that one’s for you, A) lately is what happiness looks like, and how it’s attained, and how it differs from joy.
I think happiness is one of the universal goals of everyone. It’s the desired consequence of nearly every deliberate action. Joy, however, is a character trait that is built over time by repeatedly choosing happiness.
Happiness is usually a result of our consequences. However, it can be something you chose to be, or be without, because of or in spite of your circumstances. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, happiness is in the eye of the “experiencer”… Your experiences and circumstances can dictate your mood for the day, or you can.
Joy, on the other hand, is the consequence of years of choosing happiness.
Most of the time, women especially, we spend so much time planning the future, making sure that we won’t be hurt somewhere down the line, emotionally, financially, physically, that we forget to be happy about our life right now.
How can Gandhi or Mother Theresa be the experts on joy and happiness when they have also chosen poverty and simplicity as a lifestyle. They have chosen to be without things we expect to make us happy, yet they have also chose happiness and are joyful because of it.
Novelist Jonathan Safran Foer wrote, “You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.”
For me that means that closing yourself off to the potential for heartbreak or suffering in turn closes you off to happiness and in turn joy.
I listened to a sermon a few months ago, and what the pastor said stuck with me. Depression is living in the past, and anxiety is living in the future. If you’re worried about something, you’re trying to will the future into changing before you even get there. Worrying about the future won’t make you happy. There’s no way. It won’t change the future and it won’t make you happy. Stop worrying. (Easier said than done, right?) While you’re busy living in the future, there is life going on around you, waiting for you to experience it and find happiness within it.
You’re in charge of your happiness. As Abraham Lincoln explained, “People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Some people are mean. They are most likely always going to be mean. They choose to be mean. It isn’t a reflection of you. Your worth isn’t dependent on what someone says about you or how they treat you. They are either going to like you, or they won’t. But you are never worth less than you decide you’re worth.
Sadness isn’t enjoyable. Misery isn’t celebrated. There are many people whose circumstances warrant sadness and misery and much more. But choosing those emotions and traits after the grief process will only prolong the pain.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”