The Spiritual Side
by Rick Ness
To have a happy life
In December I attended a lunch-and-learn discussion about the election. More specifically, we discussed how those who are discouraged by the results might move forward in positive and meaningful ways.
When asked about what I thought was important, I replied, “For myself and everyone else to have a happy life.”
No, this was not the most appropriate answer for a serious gathering of thoughtful, intelligent people. But, it is my belief that many if not most people around the world simply want a happy life. Yet, for so many this simple goal is out of reach.
Consider Syria, Yemen and South Sudan. Or, think of how many people here in Portland struggle to find happiness while living and begging in the streets? Even those with jobs often find happiness elusive due to stress over finances and ever increasing work demands. Consider the rate of divorce, suicide, addiction … and it becomes easy to conclude that happiness is a lot harder to achieve then what we might hope for.
Benjamin Franklin once said that beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. While admitting that a glass of beer can provide some temporary happiness, real long-term happiness comes from something else.
Look for the light in those you disagree with
How we might define or understand God will be the topic of a later commentary, but connection with and purpose to a higher power is a beginning to long term happiness. I have personally witnessed people maintain a state of happiness through very difficult times in their lives through their understanding of God’s presence and power. I’m not talking about simple feelings of elation or smiling foolishly through a serious problem. I refer to a deep sense of wholeness that overrides fear, anger and hurt to strengthen people as they navigate life’s challenges.
We do not need to wait for catastrophe, or upsetting election results, before we choose to yearn for a more contented and peaceful life. The answer is found in everyday life when connected with the higher power. Furthermore, this new life begins with our connection to our fellow humans.
Look for the light of God in others, everyone you meet, the homeless person, the annoying salesperson and especially those you disagree with. Seek wholeness and happiness not in vocalizing disagreement and dislike of others, but in looking for a reason to love them.
Try it and you be the judge.
Rick attended the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. He was a Commissioned Lay Pastor who served a Presbyterian Church in Maine for seven years.