People claim to treasure happiness. They say it is the one thing they want most. If asked, “What do you want for your children?” They often reply, “I just want them to be happy.” But that’s not the whole picture.
Happiness is the frosting, not the cake. It is the outer evidence of an inner state. Happiness is like eating sugar. It makes you feel good momentarily. Inner Joy is like eating meat or vegetables. They make you healthier and keep you feeling good.
Pursuing happiness should not be done directly, but rather indirectly. Don’t go after the result, go after the things that produce the result. Then you can produce it again and again.
In the ancient parable we are told that if you give a man a fish you will feed him only for today. But if you teach him how to fish, then you will have enabled him to eat for a lifetime. That is like happiness, it may be what we think we want, but it comes from something else. Make inner joy your goal. Inner Joy is defined as a sense of well-being, a celebration of happiness, a state of peace and safety. It is the feeling that you are a good person and you have done good things. The feeling that you are worthy of the best life has to offer.
Joy is not acquired or bought, it is deserved and cultivated. “God said, ‘Build a better world!’ And I asked, ‘How?’ The world is so big and complicated now. I’m just me, what can I do?” God replied, “Build a better You!” Self respect is a huge part of inner joy.
When we do what is right, behave with dignity and respect for others as well as ourself, we make the world a better place. This requires no special skill. You can help people right now. Hold a door open for a stranger, pick up a piece of trash from the street, offer directions to someone who is confused, give sincere compliments to deserving people. Offer encouragement to those who struggle. Be a good and trustworthy friend. Bring a smile to an unhappy moment. Point out the beauty around you instead of taking it for granted. Clean up after yourself. Take pride in your workspace, auto and home. Keep them clean and neat and healthy.
Give a smile to a beggar and shake his hand. Nobody else shows him respect, why not be the first? The more you do these things the more respect and admiration you will have toward yourself. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is one of the great compensations of life that no man can sincerely endeavor to help another without, in turn, helping himself.”
Happiness is rooted in what you want. When you get what you want you are happy, yes? Well, let’s examine that. What do you want? I want to be happy. Why do you want to be happy? Because I’ll feel better and have more energy to do what I want to do. What do you want to do? I want to be productive and useful. I want people to care about what I do and to value it.Why do you want to be useful and valued? Because then I will feel that I am worthy and good. I’ll be at peace inside and with the world. In other words, you want a sense of Inner Joy? Yes, I guess that’s true. So, I ask you, “What do you want?” And then, why do you want it? What does it mean to you? The more clear you are on what you want, the more easily you can communicate it to others, and the more likely they will be to help you get it. Take time to specify what you want to be, experience, have, and do in your life. Do this in writing. Then reflect on what you’ve written and ask, “Why do I want that? What will that do for me?” Your joy will be discovered by becoming the person who would attract the outcomes you want. Don’t just get it, be worthy of it. Deserve it! Develop in yourself the qualities of the person you would ideally like to be. Then what you want will be also seeking you!