You may find pleasure, but joy finds you…

November 20, 2015

 “Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas joy arises from within.”  –  Eckhart Tolle

That’s an interesting little quote with a depth that is not apparent upon a casual read.  We do have many things in our life that bring pleasure, sometimes fleeting and sometimes memorable. We even see this is our lexicon, i.e. “It was a pleasure to meet you”; “it brings me pleasure”; ”It was a pleasurable experience”; “I took great pleasure in that.” The experience of pleasure is almost always associated with something or someone external to our self.

mother and children
Joy on the other hand is most often discovered from within. Of the two emotions, joy is the more powerful and lasting and the more meaningful. I like the way that Rollo May put it –

Joy, rather than happiness, is the goal of life, for joy is the emotion which accompanies our fulfilling our natures as human beings. It is based on the experience of one’s identity as a being of worth and dignity.”

Joy is found in doing, rather than just thinking and most often in doing for others.caregiver I’ve written a lot here about service to others as being a noble and worthwhile goal, but it is also a path to joy, as was expressed well by Rabindranath Tagore –

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”

I have also written here a few times about the effects of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) on our lives and how it holds us back from doing the things that we want to do and the things that we know are right and that we should be doing. We hide behind walls that we build to protect us from the things that we fear. They may be physical walls, but most often they are mental and emotional walls that we construct. Those walls prevent us from reaching out to help that person who is somehow “not like us”. The walls prevent us from trying things that are new and different, especially if they involve people who are new and different. We build those walls to protect us from hurt and unhappiness and sadness; but, as Jim Rohn says,

heart in barbed wire
“The walls we build around us to keep sadness out also keeps out the joy.”

The point is that you cannot go through life protecting yourself from all pain and disappointments, from all bad decisions, from all failed relationships, from the sadness or the hurt that life has in it. Out of the survival of those travails that life throws at you will come joy. Ralph Ransom put it this way

 “Before the reward there must be labor. You plant before you harvest. You sow in tears before you reap joy.”

So, let life happen and find joy in the journey. Snoopy joy

Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it. – Greg Anderson

Let joy into your life. Don’t build those walls to keep everything out.  Have a great and joyful weekend. I joy in writing this post and hope that you find some joy in it too.

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Keep your key in your own pocket…

November 12, 2015

“Don’t put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket.” – Unknown – as seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write – When John Lennon was 5-yrs-old the teacher asked what he wanted to be when he grew up.  When he answered, “Happy!” he was told he didn’t understand the assignment.  Have you become what you wanted to be, now that you’ve grown up?  What has determined your happiness?  Things?  Family?  Health?  Approval by others?  Do you have a definition for happiness?

key to happinessI suspect that we would all answer that we want to be happy, even if we’ve already grown up. All too often, however, we do put the key to our happiness in someone else’s pocket or at least in their opinion of us. Or, maybe we come to believe that if we only had that next thing; that new car or that bigger house or maybe that next promotion; that then we’d be happy. In any of those cases the key to our happiness is not in our own pocket and that’s not a good thing.

For many younger people, this cathartic moment, when you take control of your own happiness, defines the transition into adulthood. For people who were already adults it represents regaining control over yourself;girl crying control that may have been lost to substance abuse or to abusive or controlling relationships or just lack of self-confidence that led to dependency upon someone or something else for happiness.  Sometimes we don’t even know that our pockets have been picked and the key to our happiness taken from us. Just realizing that we need to get that key back is a great start.

I’ve written here a few times about being happy with one’s self as the key in life. The reason that we sometimes put the key to our happiness in someone else’s pocket is that we aren’t happy with ourselves. If I don’t like me, how can I expect others to like me? If I’m not comfortable being around me, why would others want to be around me? If I’m not comfortable being me, how can others get comfortable being with me? It all has to start with me, before it can become about we. See my post – https://normsmilfordblog.com/2014/04/30/three-little-words-that-may-change-your-life-i-like-me/

mirror imageSo take back your key and learn to unlock your own happiness. Accept yourself as you are and work from that base. Maybe you do need to get better at some things; but start from a base of “I’m OK and I like me” and build on that. Spend your energy on building yourself up, not tearing yourself down. Identify the things that you want to improve and devise a plan to achieve those goals. For many it has to do with what they see in the mirror. Instead of wallowing in self-criticism – “I’m too fat. I’m ugly. I’m a mess.” – set out on a journey to lose some weight or to change your looks or to get your life in order.

Be careful not to put your success in achieving those goals into someone else’s pocket by trying to actually make yourself look exactly like someone else or by depending upon someone else’s judgement about your progress. Yes, it’s nice if someone else notices and asks, “Are you losing weight?” or maybe “is that a new hairdo?”  The key is that you’ve taken control and are now conscious about how you feel about yourself as walking man
you make the changes. You will probably notice that you like the new you more than the old you; even if you never admitted to yourself that you weren’t all that happy with the old you. At least you will know that the key to your happiness is not in someone else’s pocket.

Start each day feeling good about yourself. Try a little prayer to thank God for who you are and where you are headed. Putting God on your keyring means that the rest of the day will take care of itself. Put that in your pocket and you’ll have a great day.