The existence of happiness

Esther happy to be inside looking out
Esther happy to be inside looking out.

Years ago, I was taking a 6-week class that focused on prosperity. One of the women in the class (who always seemed angry at something or someone) shared that before she became aware of the power of words, she used to say, “All I need in life is a roll of toilet paper and a car that starts.” She went on to say, “Watch your words! I’m living that now.”

In class, we focused a lot on the use of specific words and affirmations, but it seemed like something was missing. I now know that the missing part was the feeling of ease, the feeling of expansion, and the feeling of happiness that needed to be a part of the affirmation. We can state, “I am wealthy. I am prosperous. I am joy-filled”, day in and day out, but if we’re angry, fearful, tense and unhappy, would money really change us? Would it really bring the feeling of happiness that we are hoping to experience?

A few years after the class ended, I ran into this woman at a concert in Saratoga. She told me that she had won (or been given, I can’t remember the details) $250,000. I expected her to be happy but she wasn’t. She started complaining about the taxes and how people were coming out of the woodwork to “mooch off” her.

We are so conditioned to believe that when some big thing happens (money, success, an important award or event) we will be happy, even when we know deep down that this isn’t true, even when we see evidence all over the place of “others” grasping and reaching for happiness outside of themselves, and we clearly see the folly in this, it can be so much harder to recognize in ourselves.

As I was searching for a quote for today’s post, I read the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, “It is not necessary to look for happiness outside of ourselves. We only need to be aware of the existence of happiness, and we have it right away.

Over this weekend, it is my intention to become aware of the existence of happiness. …I am not quite sure what this means, but I love the feel of it, and hope that you will join me.

42 thoughts on “The existence of happiness”

  1. Wow! That is a powerful post for the weekend. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know my words and thoughts can use a tune-up. Focusing on happiness makes me feel better already. Happy Weekend to all.

  2. As they say in AA, it is an inside job. So often we look outside of ourselves for happiness, but the new bobble or relationship soon loses its sparkle. We have to start with us. Thank you again for a great morning thought, Mary.

    1. Kathleen, whoever thought up the twelve steps, is it, not ten, in AA, was very enlightened. I’ve read several of the books put out by AA and their programme and they make a great deal of sense and inspiring as well.
      SandyP in Canada

  3. Wonderful…Mary…..”keep it simple” , could happiness be as simple as a CHOICE? I’m seeing evidence of this more everyday, and sometimes question myself, and my sanity….so “conditioned” to want more , faster, better….THANK YOU! Your thoughts and my feelings merged once again!!! 🙂

  4. Dear Mary. “The Existence of Happiness”…..I love this! It implies that happiness is something which exists all the time and that we need only turn our attention inward…. towards it….. to feel it’s embrace. Thanks for this lovely reminder!

  5. Thanks, Mary. My three-year-old granddaughter calls me her “laughing Nana”. That’s how she introduces me and I love it…a precious gift. God loves laughter and I’m so happy and at peace when I’m with her. I will play with being that happy when it’s God and I hanging out together alone.

    1. Christine Catherine, I cannot think of a better accolade to have bestowed on one than this…you inspire me to be that joyful “Amma” that my grandkids will remember. Thank you! Madelyn L’Engle once wrote that all her decisions are tested against this: Would I want my grandchildren to know I did this, made this choice, said this…(etc)”. Bravo to you, and thanks to all here for your wisdom and compassion.

      1. I will think of you as the Laughing Amma! Your joyful laugh will echo through your grandchildren’s lives.

  6. Thank you Mary, Jeannie, Kathleen and Sandy. As I go forth today I will not pack the emotion anger, will focus on happinesss, will look inside myself and also others for this wonderful emotion and most of all, if I find that happiness is not part of whatever endeavor I am engaging in will slow down (this particular part is not at all difficult for me as the aging process has helped tremendously).

    Love getting up and having my cup of coffee with so many wonderful women.


  7. Another great post, Mary!

    Happiness is different things to different people. I intend to sit down with myself and find out exactly what constitutes happiness for me. After that, I’m going to tune in and try to “follow my bliss.”

    Happy weekend to all who gather here! Happy weekend, Mary!

  8. Cannot tell you how much I look forward to your posts, Mary. Thank you so much!

  9. A perfect message for me today, Mary! Caretaking of an angry 93 year old father who has been prosperous and active, but yet always ready to blame and criticize has been intense lately. Asking myself how to be “different” each day, how not to internalize his energy–your message gives me a starting place. Thank you!

    1. What a wonderful desire to change the emotional legacy in your family, Laughing Amma! God bless your intention.

    2. Hi Dreama. Thank you for suggesting this blog its wonderful. As to the angry 93 year old, I had the same issue with my Dad, though he is younger. One day it occurred to me that all he really wanted was to be heard. So I would sit patiently with him and say “I hear you” and believe it or not he stopped complaining at that moment and I stopped internalizing all his anguish. We were then able to have a regular relationship, until the next time he felt inconsequential. Just sharing my experience. Love you.

  10. A very timely message for me. Lately it seems I’m only aware of the existence of stress. I’m going to practice recognizing happiness within.

  11. A sence of well being, a purpose in life, bills current, a purring cat and a cup of coffee, life is good.

  12. You have taught me to affirm from a place of peace, from a place of calm and not from a place of anger, or fear, on anxiety. I work at this every day. Your previous suggestion of looking in the mirror first thing in the morning and smiling at myself has been so helpful. I then turn and gaze out the bathroom window at the sky and ‘dwell in’ my affirmations for a few minutes…before I sign on my laptop, before my first cup of tea…I find I can not look at a bird or a squirrel without smiling, without feeling happy…happiness exists in all things…I think of it sometimes as that wonderful warm chocolate that oozes out of the center of a small chocolate lava cake…it is there waiting…all I have to do is go inside!

  13. Dear Mary, The simplest of things bring me happiness. I have been feeling this profoundly over the last few days. What a difference for me than in the past. Your blog has helped me through some rough patches and your photos always make me smile. I have a cozy home and a great man. I cherish my daughter and two grandkids. Not much money but I honestly don’t care.
    I got the date today finally for my heart procedure.(a catheter ablation) Fri. Jan.18th. It’s been a long time coming and I look forward to getting on with my life! I have travels to take,work at our animal shelter and finally my return to horseback riding lessons! Have a great weekend Mary and Flock, Cindy

    1. Cindy, I’m writing your name in my calendar for Jan. 18 – I will light my yoga candle for you that day and dedicate my practice to your surgery and perfect healing! Love, Susan

    2. Cindy, prayers for you in your upcoming operation. I expect fear and relief are mixed in together and having your life back together again. Good luck.
      SandyP in Canada

    3. Just checked in again this morning and read your post, Cindy. I am submitting your name and the date of your procedure to The Watch, which is the prayer group I belong to. You will have some marvelous energy for healing coming your way, not to mention all the energy from our WFF flock!

      Rest easy. All will go very well.

    4. I know that this community will be holding you in their hearts Cindy…love and healing thoughts to you, Mary

  14. Mary thank you again and again for your wisdom. I will think of Dr. Seuss with his quote “Today you are You that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is yourer than you”. This weekend I will turn inward and look for happiness.

  15. Just Be…yes indeed things do come true. I said all I want is house by the ocean with a toilet that works. And I got that. And I was still feeling empty. i woke up to the fact that I had to be happy with me First. Just Be Happy. And now I ask the universe for clear thinking clear reasoning. I am open to all that will provide work for myself and take care of my son A house will become my home…filled with gratitude

    1. I’ve studied with a leader of a Unity Church who would say, “What you “be” will determine what you “do” which, in turn, will give you what you “have.”
      It all starts with the BE.

  16. Didn’t get to check in yesterday but so glad I did this morning. And as I write this, Sir Paul is singing on the radio “Hey Jude, don’t be afraid, take a sad song and make it better” – Mary, you help us make everything better!, each and every day. Kathye, I love the metaphor of the lava cake – happiness nestled inside just waiting to ooze out. You know how a recipe always reminds you not to over bake something – not too cook it too long? Maybe that’s like “stop trying so hard to find happiness” – that’s a sure way to dry up the lava, the sweetness all around us, just waiting for us to open our eyes and drink it in. Happy weekend all! Myrna, I’m going to take that Dr. Seuss quote along with me on my walk this morning! Thank you!

    1. Your comment reminded me of some lyrics to this song – the part about over baking – maybe leaving it out too long in the rain??? I’m not sure if it applies to your comment. Not really sure what the lyrics meant?

  17. I just finished an email to my sister in law. Much of the letter listed struggles my husband and I have encountered in 2012. I surprised myself, and probably her, by ending that, basically I am very happy. I think that when we remember gratitude for blessings, it is impossible to say that you are not happy. Our struggles have been financial and relationship ones. These seem pale compared to those dealing with health and disaster in their lives.

  18. I was about to go to bed when I thought I’d check my email one more time – and I found an email from someone who sends regular quotes. Thought I’d pass this one along as it has a link to a free ebook. I’ve just browsed the pages, but thought that the sayings that being on page 32 are so along the lines of what we have been talking about:

    Body of the email:

    Suffering occurs when you believe in a thought that is at odds with what is, what was, or what may be.

    Experience this moment free of your mind’s interpretations of it.

    You are not your story.
    They are not your story about them. The world is not your story about the world.

    The Way of Liberation.
    Free printable PDF of this book

    1. Perfect. I love the quote. I’m reading a wonderful book about coping with chronic illness and finding happiness within it from a Buddhist perspective: How to be Sick by Toni Bernhard. (a Buddhist-inspired guide for the chronically ill and their caregivers)

    2. Mary, I’m glad I checked the blog this morning for I, too, find comfort in those words. Late in 2012 I made the painful decision to terminate a family relationship, as it is for now. It has been abusive and it has held much anger, first on the other family member’s part and then mine as a result. I’ve had to look at the depth of my anger resulting from this relationship with a step-child, whom I raised from the age of eight on and who has been very critical of me behind my back while being respectful to my face. I have felt betrayed but it is all in how I interpret this relationship and I need to dig myself out of the hole into which I’ve now fallen, feeling very sad because of all that has happened to bring us to this point and it is, I see, too, of my own making because of my mind’s interpretation of it. Thanks for posting this. It’s what, to me, this blog is all about. Mary plants the seed and from this, our thoughts and inspirations grow.
      SandyP in Canada

      1. As I started to read the Introduction (and it is also in the description without downloading the book) – this jumped out at me. I felt it spoke to your response and to the work that all of us are trying to do each day (many times a day):

        from the Introduction:
        “The primary task of any good spiritual teaching is not to answer your questions, but to question your answers. For it is your conscious and unconscious assumptions and beliefs that distort your perception and cause you to see separation and division where there is actually only unity and completeness.”

      2. Mary, this also came to the fore for me on this site:
        “the mind compulsively interprets and tries to control what it is aware of (the subject) in a mechanical and distorted way. It begins to draw conclusions and make assumptions according to past conditioning.
        we are trapped within our illusions and misperceptions. ”
        I’ve had this conflict with myself before, due to a dog breeder with whom I came into contact, who flogged the meaning of ‘the truth’ to death on her website at one point in time. The truth is a truth to each one of us; it may and often does differ from another’s truth. Now facts, I can’t argue with facts. However, I feel that my truth is the only truth when I’ve been hurt. My ego gets in the way frankly. I honestly don’t know how to handle what is my truth when I’ve been hurt by another whose truth varies from mine and there appears to be no means of resolution. At that point I walk away and do a lot of praying for us both.
        Sandy P in Canada

  19. Sometimes when I am experiencing an emotion which I find most unwelcome I search in my mind’s data base for something to help lighten the mood.

    One of my all time favorite lines is from a movie made many years ago. The line is “Have fun storming the castle!” Those particular words always ignite my imagination and allow me to relax with a smile on my face. Words really do make a difference in our worlds. What works for me probably does not do the trick for all the others but I’ll bet there is some combination out there for each and every one of us. Reading and learning is such a joyous experience and having the opportunity to express my gratitude for all these gifted people makes me smile and relax until the unwelcome emotion is replaced with something more appropriate.

  20. Father John Powell, Roman Catholic Priest, wrote a book entitled “Happiness is an Inside Job.” I think he’s right.

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