Recently I was rummaging around the Internet looking for something and came upon one of those sites that featured someone’s list of 50 great quotes. The two quotes below were not together in that list, but they seem to naturally go together.
“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” —John Lennon
“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.” —Helen Keller
There are some people whose natural state seems to be unhappiness. They are the perpetually disgruntled nay-sayers that you run into from time to time whose mission in life seems to be to try to bring all of those around them down to their level of unhappiness. If these people held the winning ticket in the lotto they would be unhappy that the prize wasn’t bigger when they won.
Then there are those who seemingly have nothing and are still smiling and happy, just to be alive. When we are very young, most of us didn’t know what unhappiness was, other than that frightened feeling when we lost sight of mom or when we fell and hurt ourselves. The kind of unhappiness that many adults feel is a learned response to the world around us. It is a feeling that somehow others have more, were given more or took more than we have. It is a child’s response to understanding the word “mine” and having whatever it is taken away. We learn to stare longingly at the door that has closed, instead of looking for the other door that Helen Keller reminds us has just opened.
We tend to look at our relationships with others in life that way, too. All relationships eventually end, some due to circumstances and mistakes that we make and some due to death. While it is certainly OK to harbor fond memories of the times and relationships gone by, it is not good to fixate on those closed doors rather than looking for the open doors and relationships that are still available. Ruing the day when a mistake that you made caused a relationship to go bad will not change the fact that it has changed and perhaps ended forever. Learning from that mistake will help you avoid souring other relationships in the same way in the future. Learn and move on through the open doors to happiness that are still available to you.
The thing that I like about Lennon’s quote is that is has nothing at all to do with possessions or success in business or winning at some endeavor. It is really about maintaining a state of mind throughout life that promotes being happy with what you have and where you are in your life. I suspect that the people who live in that state of happiness have first come to understand their relationship with God and have accepted that He has a plan for their lives that will take care of them. They have surrendered their egos to the will of God and have found happiness in His embrace.
Too many of us tend to measure ourselves by what we have or don’t have in relationship to others. It is this comparative measurement that causes us to be unhappy. Oprah Winfrey put it this way – “If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.” For many there is never enough, because they are always comparing themselves and what they have against others and their possessions. The open door that God always keeps open for you is to share what you have with others who have even less.
So, grow up and be happy. Share what you have and let God show you the open doors.