Happiness Ought To Be Shared
I have come to accept that not everyone in my family finds happiness in many of the things that make me happy. I say "some" sort of acceptance because I genuinely don't understand how they don't.
For example, it makes me happy to do laundry. It also makes me happy to re-watch the television show Fringe, listen to ear-melting heavy metal, and put too much peanut butter on my peanut butter toast.
Also, I find joy in eating mayonnaise from the jar, but it has to be Duke's mayonnaise. I have standards, you know.
There's a long list of these things that I could continue listing, but in the interest of time, let me just say: There's a lot. Also, I (not so) secretly feel like my family members are constantly judging me because of this long list.
Having said all, it's a lot more fun when the things that make me happy also make my family happy.
When we find common ground, discover ways to support one another in our joys, and gather together to do things that bring us all delight, it just hits differently. We make memories, discover what's true about one another, and find new things that can bring us all happiness together.
Recently, I read a fantastic line from Patrick Borland, who co-wrote Everything Is Sacred with Fr. Richard Rohr:
But if we stay focused on our individual happiness and do not grow toward others within the collective, we miss out on the broader message of the Gospel and a deeper experience of life.
One of the many maladies that affect our current culture of strife and division is that most seek our own happiness first and foremost, with little regard for others.
While we might allow for some outward growth toward others, we will often limit that growth to a small circle of friends and loved ones, and even then, more often than not, our happiness is conditional on how much we're willing to share, or how our sharing is received.
As I've mentioned here recently, our happiness isn't dependent on others or things we might be attached to in unhealthy ways. Happiness depends on a choice we make every day to choose it over other negative emotions that don't serve us well.
One of the many ways we can choose happiness is to realize that it most often comes to us when we focus on others and direct our growth as human beings outward as well as inward.
We should engage in self-care, and we absolutely should find joy in the things that bring us joy, as long as they are indulged in healthy ways. But we find a more complete form of happiness when we share our joy with others.
The most important way we demonstrate our love for God is by loving others. And when we show that love by stretching the boundaries of our joy, we can more fully realize the kind of happiness that is possible as a result.
May you find ways to extend joy to those around you today and every day. May you share your joy with everyone you come into contact with, keeping in mind that your happiness will be multiplied as you do.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.