I found “Joy” when I gave up chasing happiness. This may or may not have been a chance find.
There is a funny and interesting irony in happiness. It comes from a root word meaning ‘by chance’ or ‘an occurrence’, Hap is the Old Norse and Old English root of happiness, and it just means luck or chance, as did the Old French heur, giving us bonheur, good fortune or happiness. German gives us the word Gluck, which to this day means both happiness and chance. This in a positive sense connotes a sense of newness, wonder, and appreciation of chance occurrences. The irony is that people not only seek it, they try to hold on to it — especially to avoid any sense of ‘unhappiness’. Happiness is not just a matter of feeling good. If it were, drug abusers would be the happiest people on the planet. Indeed, feeling good can be a very unhappy pursuit. It is not by accident that drug users call their methods of doing so a ‘fix’ — because they are chemically trying to hold something in place. In the name of producing an emotional result we call happiness, most of us tend to engage in behaviour that is the exact opposite and then feel awful and inadequate with the inevitable result. Until we wise up, we are all generally trying to get a ‘fix’ on happiness.
For as long as I have memories of, I have spent time, money and energy to get back or to hold tight to a “happy” experience, only to realize how fleeting that moment is. Watching the home team win a championship is a short moment in experiencing the endorphin that graces us in “happy moments”. We fail of course at trying to hold that feeling in place, but we never give up trying to “pin the butterfly” in our lives to keep it forever.
We lead our lives ruled by inaccurate beliefs about happiness — ideas widely accepted by society because ‘everyone knows they are true’. On the surface, these beliefs seem to make good sense — that’s why you encounter them again and again in nearly every self-help book you ever read. But these erroneous beliefs are both the cause of and the fuel for a vicious cycle, in which the more we try to find happiness, the more we suffer. The more we chase it, the more elusive it becomes and the greater our struggle.
I have heard on numerous occasions from personal friends and acquaintances in my therapy groups that if they had this or that they would be happy. If only I had a better car, bigger house, better relationship with my spouse, bigger flat screen, fast Iphone….I would be happy.
We all know the answer and where this leads: There will always be a bigger boat, a fast ipad……
Acceptance is the key for me. There are many issues I have that could use some 220 grit sandpaper, and I am at work constantly on my character defects in hopes of making me a better denizen, greater friend, better parent, better spouse. I know what I can change, and what I can’t change. I know what needs to be changed, and what needs to stay.
The Serenity Prayer is the common name for the prayer written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971). The best-known form is: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.
Niebuhr, who first wrote the prayer for a sermon at Heath Evangelical Union Church in Heath, Massachusetts, used it widely in sermons as early as 1934 and first published it in 1951 in a magazine column. The prayer spread both through Niebuhr’s sermons and church groups in the 1930s and 1940s and was later adopted and popularized by AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and other 12- step programs.
The most well-known form is a late version, as it includes a reference to” grace” not found before 1951. I love the word “Grace” and spend a bit of time on it and will post some on these journeys of Grace discoveries soon.
God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
So my point today is this: My quest is for JOY, and not Happiness. I find joy and have joy when and where serenity intersects in my life, which happens to be more and more today as acceptance takes over from the “chase” of happiness.
I hope you find joy in your life thru serenity.