A reader's comment on last week's blog about joy got me thinking I have more to say on this subject. In response to my daughter's remark about me being an optimist, someone replied that she'd always had the optimism thing down, but was just recently figuring out the joy factor. This is exactly the case with me.
I was raised to be grateful. I was taught to appreciate living in our modest 5-room ranch and sleeping in a warm, comfortable bed and brushing my teeth with real toothpaste instead of baking soda on the weeks when we could afford it. Even throughout my tumultuous teen years, never did I forget that no matter what happened to me, I could always find someone who had it tougher than I did. I was an optimistic realist.
Now I believe in miracles.
I have always considered myself to be one of the happiest people I know. Well, in the past I was happy and appreciative, but underneath my smiling face and thankful heart, there was something missing. Barely perceptible most of the time, I nonetheless was aware of an underlying sense of lack, like I was doing something wrong. I wanted the deeper meaning of life spelled out for me. I wanted God for my best friend but I didn't know what God was or where to find he/she/it. Eckhart Tolle advised ditching all the mental noise in my head and waiting for God in the silence that was left behind. That can feel scary at first. It's really, really quiet. There's no one there to blame when things go wrong, but if you can make the leap and surrender to the nothingness, you find that there's no such thing as wrong; there is only what is.
For most of my life I responded to problems with a cheery "well, it could be worse!" I now know that many of our problems aren't real. Problems arise only when we resist what is. No one can control what happens to everyone all the time. We're not supposed to. We're just humans and our job is to grow as much love as we possibly can. Life is so much easier when approached with an open heart.
When I'm not so busy trying to fix everything and make everyone else happy, I open a door for joy to enter. Happiness is an emotion so it can be affected by external circumstances. You can say I'm happy and know it intellectually, but it's only when you can stand back and look at those thoughts that you realize it's the presence witnessing the thoughts that is your true nature, not the thoughts themselves.
The very first time Maya toddled down the path between her house and ours all by herself, with Emily watching on one end and me on the other, I was tickled to the core. Seeing my beautiful little granddaughter with a book in her hands, proudly marking a milestone on her path to independence by coming to Nay and Ba's house all by herself, I couldn't help but well up with gratitude for the privilege of being a grandmother. By now, the path is well worn from little feet pattering back and forth between the houses. Just yesterday, I watched a couple of fairies giggling along on their way home. I made a point to stop and luxuriate in the physical sensation of true joy as I let myself go beyond words and simply feel the love and joy sparked by the sweetness of it all. Quantum physics can now prove that feeling love and joy raises our vibrational frequency, causing more good to come our way. The better we feel, the better everyone around us feels.
Although it's best to take full advantage of any opportunity to increase our reserves, we don't need adorable fairies flitting about to feel joy. We don't need anything but a quiet mind. This doesn't mean we need to strive to feel happy all the time. That's impossible in the world we live in. We can't deny the ups and downs of being human and the full range of emotions we are capable of experiencing. We can, however, always reach that part of us where joy and love reside. It is in the space between our thoughts. It is in the silence of the nothingness. It can't be described with words. It can only be felt.
This is where all questioning ends and we know God.