I've been thinking a lot lately about happiness and why it's so important. In fact it's the most important thing we can do in life. But so many reasons, habits and "shoulds" have blocked us from pursuing our own happiness.
We've been told that it's a selfish endeavor and we should think of others first. Having an Italian, Catholic background this not only sounded right to me, but it felt right. It was genetically accurate as far as I was concerned. Being a martyr was the calling of my DNA as I watched my grandmother sweat in the kitchen, suffer for her family and say with regularity, "you'll be sorry when I'm gone." It's no wonder her last name was Martorella! I kid you not. Clearly, I was born to suffer for the good of others - but without donning the black veil. That would be a bit over the top. But without question, coming from the Puritanical path that built this Country and being indoctrinated in the great American work ethic, we've been taught that we must work hard for the good of others. But when we forget ourselves in the process, being the good Christian, Jew, Catholic or what have you, we become like the starving man trying to feed others.
I think I talked before about what my wish for the world would be, if I were given one wish - and it couldn't be to have an infinite number of wishes. (I thought I had that one figured out as a kid.) But if I truly had only one wish, it would be that everyone would constantly feel like they were in love. Think about how wonderful the world looked from that perspective; how kind and compassionate you were to everyone because it naturally came from your joy. I seriously doubt that hunger, war or hatred could survive if the dominant emotion on this planet was love. It wasn't until I was older that I realized that that feeling is the feeling of true happiness that we were born to have.
Since it's true that there is no one out there but ourselves and that we are the playwright of our own reality, then our own happiness is a significant barometer in what we create. Psychologists call it projection. We simply project our internal awareness, whether good or bad, onto people and onto the world and thus create our lives. It is no surprise that our thoughts create. What we think and what we believe becomes our lives. However, more potent still are the feelings that drive those thoughts. When beliefs, which are just thoughts we keep on thinking, are fueled by strong emotion, our power of creation is exponentially packed. When there is anger and hatred behind a belief, our world is full of judgment, bigotry and war. When happiness and joy feed our beliefs, our lives and the world become a very different place. The book, Ask and It Is Given, by my good friends Esther and Jerry Hicks, gives great insight to how powerfully our emotions attract circumstances into our lives. (The link is in "My Library.")
There is no doubt that we create our world, and if happiness is cultivated, it becomes the back-drop of our creation. It is the most important thing we can do for our lives and for this world. It is our own internal joy that will propel vast goodwill, which will foster the healing of pain. The beauty of this happiness and joy is that is exists inside ourselves. We look for it in so many other places first - our education, career, family, financial standing - when in fact it resides within us and has all along. It will never be found outside of ourselves, even if we attain everything that we "think" will make us happy. It brings to mind something Terry Cole-Whittaker, author of What You Think of Me is None of My Business, among other books, would say. "The thing you're waiting to have happen before you make the commitment happens after you make the commitment." In other words, a commitment to yourself is necessary in order to realize your desires. It's opposite of how the world has taught us. Go to the good school, get the grades, the job, the family and then you will be happy and successful. We all know people with all these things who are fundamentally unhappy wondering, "Is this all there is?"
When you are happy, irrespective of external circumstances, life is sweet and you feel good. This vibration that causes good things to come our way. They are the feelings that foster our desire to help one another, to be kind to one another. Contrast that against trying to help others when we ourselves are unhappy. It only causes more unhappiness.
No matter how much we might think otherwise, we are all one. You cannot do something to another person without doing it to yourself. Spiritually we are told that we are all part of the same source - God, love, the universe - by whatever name you call it. Quantum physicists tell us that we are all connected by an intelligent field. We affect ourselves by our actions to another. That is why, as my Science of Mind teachers used to tell me, "You cannot out give God." When you are happy and do something kind to another, you feel great. The better you feel the more you raise your vibration, the higher your vibration, the more attractive it is to the things you desire. It is good followed by more good - you cannot out give God. Christians call it the Golden Rule - do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Buddhists call it Cause and Effect - what you do comes back to you.
So, what is it that stands in the way of us being happy? Our past? Our beliefs about ourselves? Our judgments about ourselves as we compare ourselves to the rest of the world? All of it, I believe, which is why we must begin with our own thoughts and feelings. In this coming new year, try to look at yourself through the eyes of that "being in love" place. We would never treat a person who we were in love with the way we treat ourselves. Begin to focus on the perfection of who you are - we are innocent and we are love. Daisaku Ikeda, Buddhist philosopher and author, tells us that, "There is an expansive life-state of profound, secure happiness that transcends any material or social advantage. It is called faith, it is called the life-state of Buddhahood."
As you stand-up for the truth of who you are, things unlike it may surface. Be quick to forgive yourself or another realizing that everything happens for a reason. Mostly, that reason is to learn compassion and to uncover the truth about ourselves and others. A Course In Miracles says that, "The miracle does nothing. All it does is to undo. And thus it cancels out the interference to what has been done. It does not add, but merely takes away." Let the miracle in your life be the undoing of all that has covered your innate happiness. When you do, your joy will automatically rise to the top like a cork that was being held under water. It naturally wants to spring to the surface and when you let go, it will. When you pop that cork on New Year's think of all the joy and happiness that will naturally come forth out of your very being. Begin to feel the joy and happiness in your life and it will expand. War will never end with weapons. It will only cease when we find the place of peace and joy within our own lives and then extend it to another. Let's bombard one another with the kindness in 2010 - that kindness that will naturally be born from our happiness. It's easy to be joyful when happiness is your dominant vibration. Let's lead with joy in 2010 and see how profoundly we'll change the world simply by becoming happy.
I leave you this week with another gift from my friend, Jacob. It's his New Year's Booklet and I highly recommend it. It will set you on the right track for 2010.
I also leave you with a quote from Helen Keller who encouraged us to keep our thoughts high when she said, "No pessimist ever discouvered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit."