“ All of the animals except for man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it.” ~Samuel Butler
A couple of early Sunday School lessons have stuck with me for life – (very, very good reason to take small children to Sunday School, I guess).
One such lesson involved happiness.
My Sunday School teacher had a slide show of pictures. They were of various people – some very wealthy, some very poor, some beautiful, some….well….UG-ly. The point of the slide show was their expressions and emotions. The rich were sometimes smiling, sometimes frowning, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying. There was a young man in a car that, to me, looked like it would have cost a gazillion dollars – and he looked like he’d just been sentenced to life in prison.
Then there were the down-trodden people – again some were on top of the world while some seemed underneath it.
Later in life, the fact that some were rich and some were poor seems to be the main point of the illustration, but to a pre-teen Joi, the thing that snapped my shallow little brain cells was the fact that some were pretty and some were anything but. I remember, vividly, a girl that looked like a red-headed princess (kind of a cross between Maureen O’Hara and Sleeping Beauty). In her pictures, she looked so incredibly sad an miserable – like she just couldn’t find the door to happiness. Then there was a girl who looked like a shaved Ernest T. Bass in an Ellie Mae Clampett wig….smiling like she held the golden key.
The teacher, who always smelled like honeysuckles, pointed out how good circumstances (flowing hair, perfect face, money, fancy cars, flat abs – I threw that one in, big houses, etc..) didn’t assure happiness.
The way I’ve come to see it, is this: We each have inner emotional gauges. Sort of like our car’s temperature gauge - the one that tells whether our car’s running hot or cool. We have a temperament gauge, and our needle either swings naturally toward happy or toward unhappy.
Those who swing toward unhappy are always trying to find something to make their needle go in the other direction. When they get it (new car, house…) they do indeed experience a temporary swing in the opposite direction. But it doesn’t last. Because the newness wears off.
By contrast, those who gravitate toward happiness naturally, stay steady – in spite of circumstances. They’ll swing over to unhappy when life throws garbage their way, but the needle swings back soon enough. That’s their inner gravitational pull.
So does that mean that people who have unhappy dispositions can’t ever be anything but miserable? Heck to the no! It just means they have to look inward rather than outward for the answers. All the trips to car lots are a waste of time. Possessions are like energy drinks – very temporary.
Just like everything in the world – the answers all lie INSIDE, not OUTSIDE. You can get down and wallow in the miseries of life or you can stand up and find a way to get the better of them!