The Holiday Season has different meanings to different people. Some enjoy the shopping while others hate the pressure. Some enjoy the social parties while others shy away from them. Some can’t wait for the holiday music to begin playing on the radio like my children do. Somehow they know that this is the time to feel special because they are receiving gifts, love and joy. Parents go to huge lengths to find out what the kids want without letting the cat out of the bag as to who really brings the gifts. Quietly they assemble and wrap them ‘till the wee hour of the night so that they can see the joyful faces of their children in the morning.
If you step back from all of this and simply observe what is going on, you begin to see that more than anything else, this is the time to find and live in a joyful state. The social scenes, the food, the gifts, the parties and the music, are all trying to accomplish one thing, and that is to bring more joy in our lives.
Pursuit of Happiness is an American tradition. Thomas Jefferson coined it in the declaration of independence as, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. Scholars maintain that the concept comes from the writing of John Locke who wrote, “Life, liberty, and estate” (property). The pursuit of happiness may sound good, but it is the pursuit of possession that we seem to go after, thinking that achieving the possessions will bring us the happiness we desire. In the process, happiness becomes a destination that we travel toward.
While the pursuit of happiness does bring us joy, the journey is long and the moment is fleeting. We work hard to pursue something we desire and once we have the fulfillment of that desire, we begin the next journey looking for happiness to be at our doorstep again. As one Sufi points out, “when you desire something, that something has power over you and you are attached to the desire of the object.” The minute you possess what you desire you seem to be in control, and you are happy. Your pursuit of happiness has finally been delivered after a long journey. But once the object of the desire is yours, you are left with the responsibility of maintaining it and protecting it, and the object once again has the power over you (back to attachment). At this point we begin again to pursue happiness and the long arduous process begins once more.
To learn to truly be in the spirit of joy and happiness, we need to change our paradigm. Many have heard the saying, “Happiness is not a destination but the journey itself.” There is tremendous truth to this statement. Life is made of moments. If somehow we learn to relish the moments and find simple joy in every moment, then there is no need for the pursuit of happiness; happiness becomes the way.
So how do we cultivate that joy and happiness in our daily life and actions? Og Mandino put it very nicely when he wrote, “Realize that true happiness lies within you. Waste no time and effort searching for peace and contentment and joy in the world outside. Remember that there is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving. Reach out, share, SMILE, hug. Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.”
So this holiday season if you are looking for joy and happiness, find it in little things and acts. Being thankful as we wake up from our sleep and feeling grateful for what we have in our lives sets us on a right frame of mind. As we interact with others we can bring a smile to everyone’s face. A kind word to a co-worker, a smile to a stranger, a hug to a relative, unconditionally listening to a loved one is enough to create moments of joy and happiness for others. This happiness creates lightness in us. We begin to see the world as a joyful place rather than as a mundane and busy life.
The journey begins to be the joy rather than the focus on getting to the destination. This transforms our outlook to focus on the moment. Instead of waiting for the end of the work day to enjoy the evening, the day becomes joyful. Rather than waiting for the weekend, the week itself becomes joyful. The acts may be simple but they transform how we experience life. These simple acts transform our outlook. They bring focus back to moments where we begin to be present and thrive on these moments. Thus by creating simple joy and happiness for others we begin to create beautiful moments in our own lives. The focus shifts from the future to now where there is abundant opportunity to live a joyful and happy life.
If you see a stranger smiling at you, who knows, our paths may have just crossed!
Love and Joy,