In today’s spotlight I wish to take a moment to reflect on the nature of joy. Happiness is defined as: “Pleasure, joy, exhilaration, bliss, contentedness, delight, enjoyment, and satisfaction. Happiness, bliss, contentment—and felicity which implies an active or passive state of pleasure or pleasurable satisfaction.”
Given that definition, one might think that joy and happiness are synonymous—is there a difference?
Joy as the Highest Form of Happiness
I think many people find happiness to be a relative measure—happy verses unhappy. Often the answer to the question, “Are you happy?” is weighted by our relationships, our work, and our inner life. Someone unhappy in their job may indicate that they are generally happy at home, but they hate their job. This can work conversely as well. Joy, however, seems to be an exalted state of happiness for most people.
We are in the midst of the most joyous season of the year, and yet Black Friday sales seem to invariably lead to the worst behavior of the year. Someone gets trampled at the opening of a store featuring limited quantities and special sales. Arguments can become violent between competing customers. Clerks can become rude and discourteous. Keeping up with the Joneses cannot only bring great stress but can ruin the budget. Gift giving itself can lead to disappointment and grief. One might fairly ask, is this the spirit of joy?
For me, joy often comes as the result of pleasing of another. Why is that?
“I” Centered Awareness
Most of us have thought about what it might be like if we were but a character in someone’s dream. What if this were true? Think about it for a moment. We tend to have so much self-awareness that we often neglect to think about our impact on others. All too often it can become a world almost totally “I” centered.
We arise in the morning, shower, choose our dress, and get ready for the day. We know what we wish to do and what we must do. Perhaps we set out an itinerary over coffee before embarking on our daily routine. We meet our friends and associates and share our stories—but again, it’s almost always about us.
We discuss our needs, ambitions, activities, relationships, the world of sports, the latest movies or TV show—but still our focus is on ourselves. We live in an “I” world full of me, myself and I.
Now that’s not to say that we don’t think of or love others because we do. But it is our relationship to them through the eyes of our needs and expectations that usually guides our interactions.
Dreams or Dreams Within Dreams
Now what if we are just characters in someone else’s dream? What if we were but a dream within a dream? What if we held much less “I” consciousness and instead thought of the world and all of those who we encounter as the real players. We are just there for them. Our role is only to facilitate their lives in some way. But then—in what way would that be?
When you put on the moniker of “I only really exist for others,” the world and our interactions change. Now our focus is on others instead of ourselves. This is the world of true service and the world that returns the highest best gratification.
It is through this lens of our being that we truly can enable others. It is exactly this frame of reference that rewards us most for our very existence. I would exhort you to try this lens on for this holiday season and see if it doesn’t make your world brighter and full of more joy.
My suggestion—remember what’s important about the season. This is a time to be thankful and to raise the spirits of all. Offer to help others in any and every way feasible. It is service that returns joy! And don’t overlook the awe of it all. Life is a miracle by any account and that means you too are nothing short of a miracle—even if it’s all just a dream. Enjoy the miracle!
My thoughts anyway—what are yours?
As always, thanks for the read and I appreciate your feedback.
NY Time Bestselling Author of Choices and Illusions