What makes you happy? Spending time with your family and friends? Doing a great job at work? Traveling? Watching movies? Listening to music? Reading? Enjoying nature?
Being happy is a choice and a way of life. Millions of words have been written about the benefits of having a positive outlook. Millions more about the benefits of self-improvement. Additional millions about the benefits of physical fitness and exercise. That’s a lot of words.
But do you have a nagging feeling that there’s still something missing from your life? Something that would make you happier if you ever find out what it is? Something you haven’t been able to define, but are searching for?
Maybe what you’re looking for is faith and spirituality. Oh no, you protest, I’m not religious. I don’t want to go to church on Sunday and listen to a sermon telling me that I’m a sinner. That wouldn’t make me happy; in fact, just the opposite. Oops! You’ve fallen into the trap of thinking that religion, faith, spirituality, and belief all mean the same thing. They don’t.
Image Source: Pixabay
Faith and Spirituality
Human beings have a need to feel that they’re part of something bigger than themselves; that their lives have meaning; that there’s more to life than the day-to-day rush of activities. That need and your drive to discover your; something more is faith. Spirituality is the way you practice your faith, what you focus on, and how you go about finding your something more.
Belief and Religion
Beliefs are those things that are true for you. You arrive at your beliefs through your experiences. For instance, if you’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon and gotten away from the crowds of tourists to discover an incredibly beautiful place where you could enjoy the magnificent scenery, the smell of the pine trees, and the utter vastness of this natural wonder in peaceful quietness, it undoubtedly was an exhilarating experience. Downright spiritual, wouldn’t you say? Voila! That experience gave you a belief; i.e., that nature is true; and works for you.
Unlike faith, spirituality, and beliefs, which are personal to you, religion is a man-made system of beliefs, practices, and the community of people who share them. A religion can be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or any number of God-based systems, however each group defines God.
Some religions, however, are secular. Atheism, for instance. Nature itself. For some people, running is a religion, at least in terms of their dedication to it. Bottom line, religion is personal after all. Your religion is your set of beliefs and practices.
More importantly, your religion makes you happy. Not every minute of every day, of course. Life includes times of illness, grief, anxiety, anger, and other negative things as well as times of exhilaration, contentment, a sense of well-being, and joy. But remember, happiness is a choice and a way of life. The bad times don’t have to overwhelm you or turn you into a negative person. You can choose the half full glass rather than the half empty one.
Joy and Happiness
Rick Warren, founder of Saddle back Church and author of such books as. The Purpose Driven Life, and What on Earth Am I Here For? joy the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.
He also suggests viewing life as a railroad track. One rail represents the good things that happen in your life. The other represents the bad things. The key is recognizing that the rails are parallel and are the pathway down which you proceed as you live your life. But if you look toward the horizon, the rails ultimately merge into a single point, the place where everything finally comes together and makes sense. For him, that place is Heaven. Literally.
Pastor Rick is a Christian. So are 70.6 percent of American adults according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center. Many of them enjoy studying their faith and reading articles about it, such as those provided by the way international in its monthly publication. The Way Magazine.
But does joy have to wait until you die? Ayn Rand, the confirmed atheist, novelist, and founder of Objectivism, the philosophy of rational individualism, didn’t think so. As Dr. Hugh Akston, a character in , Atlas Shrugged, says, Ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be left waiting for us in our graves; or whether it should be ours here and now and on this earth.
For Rand, people can achieve happiness here on earth. When asked to define her philosophy, she once answered: My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.
Whatever your faith, spirituality, beliefs, and religion, all of these things should be a big part of your consciousness. They are your ways to find happiness.