Happiness is . . .

What is happiness anyway? I don't mean the shallow happiness that you sometimes feel when something good happens, but the joy that comes from inner peace.

In fact, the real source of happiness is inner peace.

My pilgrimage has led me through mountains and valleys, sunshine and shadow, the painful and idyllic, the rough and smooth, and I want to share with you some of the things I have learnt. Some of my contributions won't resonate with you, but read on and something will.

By the way, what have you discovered on your pathway to inner peace? Send me your thoughts here

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Show Your Love

This morning my wife, to whom I have been married for 59 years, said, as we had a morning cuddle, "Thank you".  
"Thank you for what ?" I asked.
Her reply made me feel very humble - and very proud.   "I didn't realize how much it means to me to be told all the time that you love me".

On the other side of the coin, we were watching a television show last night, in which the father and adult son were alienated, with no communication between them.  They finally found themselves together and the father knew he had to explain the reasons for his lack of communication over the years.

His father had taught him a mantra which he was reminded of every time he showed any emotion: "Don't cry. Be strong!" This meant that the dad could not show love to his son, because it would be deemed 'weak'  It was a very moving breakthrough when dad said "I love you" for the first time.

Life without emotion is barren and lifeless.  But people who are more emotional are experiencing life more than those who aren’t.  They are truly living.

I am one person who was brought up to hide my feelings.  I spent most of my childhood in a boarding school, and life in a boarding school can be very lonely.  You share a lot of experiences together, but you rarely share feelings with anyone.   

Making it worse for me was the fact that when I did get emotional about my relationship with my parents and wrote a letter to them expressing my love for them, I received no reply to my expression of fairly deep feelings.  They were ignored in future correspondence. 


I had to learn to feel emotions again.  Being 'in love' was OK, but showing any level of love to anyone else was out of my experience.  I had no trouble seeing the beauty in the person I was in love with, but I was unmoved by the beauty of a sunset or music.   It was a long time before I was able to teach myself to respond to all this beauty in the world around me.  Now I can be stunned into silent awe at the beauty of nature.   

Then I also had to learn to be comfortable with physical contact with other people.  For a while I was under the assumption that touching always had a sexual element to it.  Then I discovered that a hug or kiss of a person other than Bev was OK and did not need to have any sexual message to it at all.  

When I was in the ministry and visiting people, I was always careful to treat people as strangers for whom touching was taboo.   That was until one day I was visiting a particularly difficult elderly lady, who did not get on with anyone much.  While talking to her I wanted to show my concern for her and placed my hand on her hand, which was resting on the bed covers. To my surprise, she pulled her hand out and grabbed my hand with both of hers and hung on, hungry for a caring touch.  It was then I realized that sharing feelings can be a healing process as well.

Allowing others to see your 'clay feet' can not only be freeing experience but expressing emotion is also a sign of trust in a relationship. Telling someone you feel angry or sad shows that you are willing to be vulnerable.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Smile That Changes The World

I have on my study wall a poster which reads, "Smile, it's the second best thing you can do with your lips."  My 10 year old twin granddaughters asked me what is the best thing you can do with your lips.    When I explained, their response was to screw up their faces and make disgusted noises!  All right, I know.  It's true, they are only 10, but so beautiful, and I could only assume that they had not kissed romantically with anyone, or that they believed that "a smile is the best thing you can do with your lips".

For most of my youth I lived in a boarding school where, because of the war, we were unable to get to see our parents for some years.  I don't remember ever thinking about whether I was making anyone else happy or whether they were making me happy.

This all changed for me when, a few years later, after a long time of constant low self esteem and sense of failure, an older lady said to me, "Ray, you have a great smile." That was an amazing experience.  Someone had actually told this self styled failure that he had a talent! From that moment I tried to use that smile to my advantage.

I discovered that a smile was almost always rewarded with a return smile, or even a short conversation.  Smiling at my fellow drivers when I am out in the car is still my practice, and I know that a smile received from a fellow driver always makes me feel better.  An easy smile in a shopping centre is (almost) always well received, and little kids love it. A smile on public transport can change the atmosphere among your fellow travellers.

A smile should always bring good feelings to its recipient and its giver.  A sense of humour should never put a person down.  I remember going to a large church where the experienced and popular preacher made jokes about his wife, putting her down in the process. That did not come from God and I didn't return to that church.

That smile which began as a physical change to the way I presented my face, was the beginning of a deeper change in which I now find it difficult to see the bad in people and situations, but only the good and, very often, the funny side.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Feeling Bitter and Better About Getting Old

Christmas has come and gone and now it is New Year's Eve and another year is about to get on the move.

For me, this has been a year of becoming aware of my age. I am about to turn 84, and although my granddaughter told me when she was six years old, that I had to make her a promise to live to 100, and I said I would try, it is still not easy to face up to my age.

This year I have seldom driven the car.  Bev does most of the driving. This is because a couple of times, when passing through the city, my reflex action in using the brake was almost too slow, with possibly disastrous consequences.

Physically I have noticed it most.  I am no longer able to climb ladders on doctor's orders. The couple of times I have tried have proved that he is quite right!  I can't lift any heavy weight for more than a minute or so without getting completely out of breath.  Even such simple actions as drying myself after a shower leaves me struggling for breath.  Somehow my knee joints have lost their ability to lift the rest of my body after sitting down for a while.

I have a low level of emphysema, so the doctor tells me, and it does not worry me too much except when I am in bed, and I find that my lungs have built up a wheeze that is designed to keep me awake unless I knock it with some "anti-wheeze stuff".

I have found it hard to take when family members make decisions for me and seem to assume that I have lost the capacity to think for myself.

OK.  OK.  OK!    I know you are feeling absolutely devastated for me now.  "Poor Ray"  you are saying, "how does he cope?"   That's easy because the other side of the coin (the "better") is that I am feeling ten years younger than my actual age.

I am writing my sixth book now - a biography of my grandfather, Arthur Moore.  I know more about computers and other modern technical gadgets than a lot of people. Even though my short term memory loss is sometimes disturbing,  I still have a huge stock of "useless information" in my head which mainly finds its place when I am asked a question from a crossword puzzle, or when I am watching a quiz show based on general knowledge.

I have an immediate family of 23, (Ourselves, four children, their partners, and thirteen grandchildren), and I love every one of them and that love and respect is reciprocated in truckloads!  I am the most blessed and richest person in the world.  Top of this love pyramid is Bev. As of the stroke of midnight tonight, we will have been an "item" for 65 years and married for 59 years.  It has been an up and down ride, but as we have come out on this side of the story of our lives, we are more in love than ever.  It's better than being a teenager!

My "betters" easily outweigh my "bitters".

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Is Happiness the Same as Inner Peace?


Can you choose to be happy? 

The person who is suffering from clinical depression would say ‘no way’. 

The person who suffers from chronic anxiety would say ‘it’s too difficult’. 

The person who has just entered a grief cycle due to some severe loss would say ‘I don’t want to. It would be false’.

The person who has been let down, misunderstood, treated unfairly, bullied or treated badly in some way, would say ‘I could try, but it would be almost impossible at the moment’. 

 

All of them might also say ‘I don’t think I even want to’.

 

So, does that mean that it is impossible to choose to be happy? Well, it depends on how you describe ‘happy’ or ‘happiness’.

Being happy is all about fulfilling your desires and having feelings of satisfaction.  Happiness is basically transient. Happiness depends on present circumstances.

Your happiness can be permanent only if you find inner peace. 

 

This does not mean that your life will be storm free.

 

 


But inner peace lies in a special place in you that cannot be easily disturbed.

There are two sources of inner peace available to you:

1. Teach your mind.

Romez Sasson is quoted as saying, “Learn to calm down the winds of your mind, and you will enjoy great inner peace.”   Yes, you can teach your mind to respond differently to outside circumstances and pressures.  It has been often said, “It’s not what happens to you that is important, but how you react to it”.

2. Then there is faith. 

I am not just talking about the Christian faith here, although that is where this illustration comes from. 

Jesus was with his disciples in a boat on the sea of Galilee.  A huge storm came upon them. The disciples were afraid, and Jesus was asleep.  They woke him, and he said “Peace! Be still!” And the storm ceased and all was calm. The disciples never forgot Jesus' ability to bring peace during a storm.


(By the way, fear is one of the most debilitating emotions to affect our wellbeing.  More of this in a later blog.)

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Congruence and Integrity


It's nice when people say that you are "genuine", or as we would say in Australia "fair dinkum".

For some reason this struggle to be ‘fair dinkum’, genuine or authentic has always
been an underlying tension in my life. Trying to live my life with integrity, I have unfortunately failed more than I have succeeded. But that does not mean that I have not tried.
Some of my worst feelings of failure have come when no one else is affected, but I am painfully aware that my actions have not fitted the template I was holding up for my own guidance.  There has been an incongruency between what I have said and what I have done; between what I believe and my actions.

The problem is that when a person is sensitive to the incongruency and lack of genuineness in their lives, they tend to live under a cloud of guilt, which comes from not living up to your own standards. 

The result of this is that you lose a whole lot of confidence in yourself, because the message that you are hearing in your ‘self-talk' is, “You are not good enough!”

This can lead to isolation and depression.

For example, I once had a client in for counselling who seemed to have everything
going for her. She was attractive and exceptionally intelligent, always coming near the top of her class when she was at school, and excelling in most activities in her life. But she came to see me with depression and a very low self-esteem. You see, even when she scored the best marks in the class, or came home with other success stories, her father would always say to her, “Come on, you can do better than that!”  She was never good enough