Last week while driving to work, a surge of happiness washed through me. As I looked at the trees bursting forth in spring green, the fresh new grass, and bright colored poppies, I felt elated to be alive.
Then my intellectual mind kicked in and I began to think, "Am I happy or am I filled with joy?" We say in Unity and in other New Thought spiritual paths that joy is an inherent birthright and comes from within, while happiness is activated through outside events. To clarify my own understanding, I did a little research. I chose to look at two books written by the Dalai LamaThe Art of Happiness and The Book of JOY co-authored with Desmond Tutu. I chose these two books written by the same person, a deeply spiritual man, because it seemed he used happiness and joy synonymously. He appears to live such a life of joy, that I consider him an expert.
As I read the books, he did use the two words interchangeably. Part of the Buddhist Compassion Meditation says, "May you be happy." It then says, "May you find peace and joy". What became valuable to me was a take-away that could be used in all areas of my life. What word I use in describing a feeling or emotion is not so much the word itself but my intention. If I think that experiencing, happiness, joy, peace, or contentment, can only come from what my senses perceive, from something outside myself, the feeling will be fleeting. Situations continuously change, and if I rely on them for my stability in life, I will be disappointed, and only periodically experience joy or happiness.
When I turn within and connect with Spirit, I can find peace or contentment regardless of what is happening in my outer world. What a gift, though, when life circumstances do lift my spirits to heights of happiness. Whether it's seeing spring emerge, spending time with my loved ones, or sitting alone enjoying my own company, I feel grateful. Grateful that life is so beautiful. I tuck these moments of pleasure, of happiness, deep inside me to draw on when life doesn't look so beautiful. They become part of my spiritual bank account. When I connect with God, I might picture a blossoming tree or a delighted child, and my inner joy births.
Something that brings joy to my heart is spending time with you whether during the week or on Sunday mornings. This month our Sunday services will look at four of our Twelve Powers—Wisdom, Power, Understanding, and Order. I look forward to seeing you as we discover how to bring greater stability into our lives through the use of these powerful abilities.
Until then, as spring comes into full bloom, may you experience joy, happiness, peace, and contentment both in your inner and outer worlds.