They are two very different things.
Happiness depends on external circumstances… Is the sun shining?
Are you feeling well? Are you living in peace? These things seriously affect our ability to be happy.
Happiness doesn’t happen easily.
Because of this, the Pursuit of Elusive Happiness seems to consume our lives. We buy the right clothes, live in the right neighborhoods, choose the right friends. We go to the best schools, work at the best careers…eat at the best restaurants. We just want to be happy, but so often that is not possible. Happiness is fleeting.
Illness, tragedy, disaster strike.
And there is nothing we can do about it.
But I am not a fatalist. There is more to the story than that!
I had a happy place when I was a kid. Off the beaten path, on a forgotten section of a neighbor’s unused farm, there was small pond, a stand of maple trees, and a field of wildflowers. Neglected and abandoned by the whole world, I claimed it as my own. I hiked its hills and discovered butterflies, made bark boats to sail the pond, and dreamed very big childish dreams. I wanted to stay there forever, because that place made me happy. But you know what happened?
The property was not mine.
The property was mined.
One day the bulldozers moved in. As I watched from a perch in a tree, my happy place of dreams was mowed down, churned over. Over the next few years, the land was carved up, trucked out, and driven away.
Perhaps you have some of that earth in your yard, as landscaping?
Is it making you happy?
But happiness is overrated. There is something more important.
The thing we really can’t live without is Joy.
Joy is a gift.
It is yours, right now, despite any crushing problems you are feeling.
Because no matter what your circumstances, no matter how little control you have over your own life, you can still receive Joy.
You can’t buy it.
You can’t make it.
You can’t take it.
You can’t control it.
But it is given to you, every day.
Look around you.
When I began searching for Joy, I began to find it everywhere.
It is not in any whirlwind of activity that I pursue.
It’s not in the loud volcanic explosion of daily stress.
It’s not in the thunderstorms of life, which always return, screaming for attention.
I found Joy in the soft, steady breath of a sleeping child.
I find Joy in the iridescent majesty of a dragonfly wing.
I find Joy in the sparkle of morning dew on a leaf in spring.
Joy lives in the icy crystals of snowflakes, unique and beautiful.
The small things of this world can fill you with Joy.
The big and troublesome things don’t ever go away, but they can’t suffocate Hope
if you find Joy in the small things.
When I think back to the “happy place” of my childhood, I smile.
It wasn’t possessing the property that was important. It doesn’t really matter that it disappeared. The important thing is that is where I began to find Joy.
Joy was given to me in the rippling waves of that little pond. It was there, in the silky milkweed seeds, floating on the breeze just for me. Joy was in the warmth of the sunlight, dancing on the purple sweet clover along with the bees.
It was given to me.
And no one can take that away.
Want some? Look around you. It is here... A gift for you.