As a holistic health practitioner, I work with people who struggle with anxiety, PTSD, depression and other conditions that make it challenging to find joy (which I define as inexplicable peace).
I’m sure you’ve heard the adage, “Happiness is a choice.” Much like Lori Deschene, the founder of Tiny Buddha, I believe that “Happiness takes a lot of choices that are sometimes hard to make,” is more realistic.
I love the happy paint job on this bicycle!
Each day we’re presented with countless choices. They include the decision to:
Accept ourselves and our struggles. Or not.
Take responsibility for getting help. Or not.
Do things that promote personal wellbeing. Or not.
The world is a really big place, but I make a difference and so do you. Each of us—whether we want to, or not—leave an impression.
The deciduous leaves have all but disappeared in our neck of the woods. And while this leaf impressed me because of it’s tremendous size…
…this leaf, though much smaller, left a longer lasting impression.
The About page on Tuesdays With Laurie states, “…my goal is to leave the slightest footprint on the planet, while at the same time making a lasting impression on its inhabitants—one that is positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing.”
“People who strive for something significant,whether it’s learning a new craft or raising moral children, are far happier than those who don’t have strong dreams or aspirations,” says psychologist Ed Diener. “As humans, we actually require a sense of meaning to thrive.”
Have you defined the impression you want to leave?
Recently I blogged about the Science of Happiness Project that I’m participating in. I received an email from one of the coordinators that said, “Remember that happiness isn’t simply determined by your genes, nor by what’s happening in your life — 40% of it is actually in your control.”
As a participant, I receive activities, quizzes, and games each day with the idea of building and strengthening happiness habits.
Do you remember the Highlights for Childrenmagazine from when you were a kid? My favorite thing was finding pictures within a picture! Researchers have found that one way to build up and boost our mood is to engage in techniques that distract us from worry and help us avoid over-thinking.
Below is a scene I received with the instruction: “Find the following six objects hidden in the scene. Take your time and enjoy looking around to find them all: pinecone, pigeon, hare, dandelion, wrong house number, and fish.”
From the outside Happiness and Joy look a lot alike - but they're different
Happiness and Joy—from the outside they look a lot alike, but they’re different.
Happinessis a feeling. It goes up and down—fluctuates—based on external circumstances. It’s temporary, fleeting at best. For instance, we check the mailbox and find a notice from the IRS that states we owe a considerable sum in back taxes. For most people our happiness level would plunge. On the flip side, we check the mailbox and find an unexpected refund check from the IRS—it could be in any amount—and our happiness level soars.
Happiness can also be a result of manufactured merriment such as going to the circus, watching a funny movie, attending a birthday party.
When our perspective is governed from the inside out, the external pressures fall away and we experience joy.
Joyis a state of being. It’s inexplicable peace. Joy is internal and when nurtured and encouraged, it becomes resident—abiding—regardless of external circumstances.
Cultivating and maintaining joy eases the struggle that exists along life’s path. Joy leads to grace, the immediate presence of Divine Love.
The life of Viktor Frankl—Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor—is a perfect example of someone with inexplicable peace. He was a joy-filled person even though he was confined by the narrow boundaries of a concentration camp.
Another, more recent example is the many people who lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina. There were few whose happiness didn’t plummet. However, there were some who suffered tremendous personal devastation, yet still retained a state of joy—inexplicable peace that defies explanation.
Through which lens do you view life—external happiness, or internal joy?