I wish to initially clarify what I mean when I speak of happiness, or joy. I am not discussing the transitory nature of fun, or pleasure. To me, happiness and joy are on a deeper life level. There actually IS the possibility that you can be happy in the most difficult of circumstance.
Greatness isn't about being born with privilege. Greatness is about doing the best you possibly can with the life that you've been given. My friend George Watanabe's quote, paraphrased a bit by me.
These words have been ringing through my soul. I already knew that greatness was not necessarily shown by a splendid house, fancy cars, and designer clothes. An example? My youngest daughter was in the restroom at her middle school. Two other girls came in. One was complaining to the other, "My clothes are not all the same designer! My Mother didn't get all of them washed in time!"
My girl was amazed. Her life had been a little different. Most of her clothing had come from thrift stores (proudly so), clearance sales, and hand me downs. There were rarely any "designer labels," in her wardrobe. She was totally puzzled by the foolishness of these girls worrying that their underwear were a different designer label than her outerwear. She later said to me, "Nobody should even be seeing your underwear! Who cares what label is on it!"
I'm NOT saying that it is evil to have money. Great wealth can bless ever so many lives in ever so many ways! Think of Bill Gates and his lovely wife. They have put millions of dollars into the world. They are firm believers in giving back.
I also believe that with great money and resources there should be a higher level of responsibility in how those assets are used. I realize that defining this can be very tricky. With wealth often comes lots, and lots of people with their hands outstretched. I think most people have heard horror stories about lottery winners and how they are bombarded by requests for sharing the wealth.
I honor some of those that chose their financial blessings as ways to help their entire family. Celine Dion is a grand example of that. She was born into a very large family. As her career sky rocketed she shared with siblings, nieces, and nephews. Her success translated immediately with love into blessings for her family.
A debate goes on, does money create happiness? There are ever so many examples of wealthy people killing themselves, or leading absolutely miserable lives. Wealthy folks with young children worry about kidnapping of those precious children, think about the son of Charles Lindberg. The father was a famous airplane pilot that flew around the world. He was the first to achieve that goal. When his son was kidnapped and then found killed, none of that wealth could comfort him.
On the other hand, is poverty the answer for happiness? Surely not. There are far too many people who can't afford to feed themselves, or their children. In my own life I have felt the fear of not knowing if I can pay my bills. In those times I was aware that I could face many negative consequences due to that lack.
What IS the source of happiness in life? Is there only one source? I believe that there are as many sources of happiness as there are people.
Being able to dance brings me great happiness. I live with invisible disability. Nobody can see the damage from the tip of my neck to the base of my tailbone. Pain can't be seen unless you know what to look for. I was a dancer in my youth. Being able to dance again is a huge blessing to me.
The greatest source of my happiness is my faith in God. Believing that there IS a purpose to this life, and that there is a Creator who created this world for us, brings me joy.
I had a neighbor that was a psychologist. She chose to work with children that suffered with post traumatic stress disorder. She saw the worst of the worst, children who had faced horrors of abuse and neglect. Her belief was that there was no God, no purpose in our suffering, sorrow faced is random, and death is the end of existence. Her way was obviously not my way. Yet I validate her choice as giving her sense in the senseless. The sense to her was that life is completely random, and we needed to make the most of our lives because there was nothing more.
Am I right, is she wrong? It does NOT matter. What matters is how we find our way through the twisting, turning, confusing maze that life is from time to time. Both of us had systems that worked for us.
I am NEVER saying that causing harm to others, or choosing addictive behaviors of any type, sex, food, drugs, etc. are appropriate answers to life's difficulties. Using these behaviors will NEVER lead to happiness. They may bring transitory pleasure, but that pleasure will quickly be followed by consequence and sorrow.
Today, this very moment as you read this post, make a goal for yourself. Life is busy. Do not choose to make that an excuse not to take my challenge. We all have twenty-four hours. We all have the choice to fill them as we see fit. So squeeze out a few minutes. This is the challenge, take half an hour and do what brings you genuine, healthy, joy. If that means being with your children, or husband, or other family or friends. If that means going on a walk, or hike, do it. Maybe your happiness comes in serving others, or reading a very good book. You may be surprised how one half hour, thirty short minutes of happiness can change your entire outlook. Squeeze in TODAY moments of pure happiness.
This life is so very precious. It is also fragile. I have had the honor of being present as caregiver to dear friends and family as they made their journey into death. It never fails to amaze me that one moment we're alive, and then we're not. Well not in the same way that is. Use the fragility of life to motivate you to stretch, challenge, and improve, TODAY!