How To Be Happy

admin Last updated on: May 27, 2023

By Terrin Parker

“Mine!” my (almost) three-year-old wailed, snatching Thomas the Train out of the hands of his baby brother. Instead of crying, the baby simply smiled, and pulled another toy from the bin. “MINE!!” I heard again, as I looked over to see the toy get stripped from my youngest and added to the ever-expanding pile that was now spilling over Big Brother’s hoarding hands. “Please don’t be mean to your little brother,” I softly reprimanded. “I’m not mean. I’m selfish,” was his honest reply.

I thought about that statement, and realized that many of us still behave like selfish three-year-olds, myself included. It’s not that we are mean-hearted, generally speaking, but much like my son, we see something that someone else has and believe that in order for us to be happy, we need that “thing”.

What we fail to realize, as we watch the other person with envy, is that it isn’t the object of affection that is the source of the joy. It’s the affection itself – that person’s feeling of fondness, that we truly envy. Their happiness is what we crave and we erroneously attach it to the object they are holding.

Just like my son, once we have the object we so desire in our grasp, that thing that was going to bring with it the same level of joy it seemed to bring someone else, we realize that we are still not happy. So we seek out yet another object, until our hands and lives are spilling over with things that have the potential to bring us joy, and yet none of them do.

What we need to understand and work toward, is not the acquiring of toys, but the fostering of joys. We need to learn how to find happiness in what we have, because if we can’t do that, we will never have enough. I once heard a story about a man who had few material possessions, but was truly happy. He was asked by a wealthy, yet sullen man, “How are you so happy, when you have nothing?” To which he responded, “I may not have much, but I have something you will never have.” “Oh? And what might that be?” sneered the rich man. He smiled back and replied, “I have enough.”

This principle holds true to more than just material possessions. We often envy others for their flawless skin, musical gifts, or ability to create delectable dishes in the kitchen. We may be envious of someone’s level of fitness, sense of fashion, or circle of friends. We wish we had curly hair, or straight hair, or blue eyes or brown. The point is, as we gaze longingly at the green grass someone else is growing, we don’t realize that they are thinking how lucky we are to have a beautiful rock garden that doesn’t need mowing.

When we can learn to be happy on the inside, everything around us simply becomes a catalyst to that joy, if we allow it. When we stop comparing oranges to walnuts, and our worst qualities to someone else’s best. When we learn to find joy in who we are, rather than what we have, or have not. One thing we all have is access to happiness. What determines who will take possession of it, and who will not, is attitude. So during this holiday season, I invite you to share in the joy of others’ gifts. Share in their happiness, and let them take part in yours. Be selfless, not selfish. Decide that you have enough, and then choose to be happy. If you do this, though life may take away your toys, it can never rob you of your joys.

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