Distractions vs Vision … Happiness vs Joy

Here is my feeble attempt at explaining what I think I know so far!

This life is full of amazing opportunities for each of us.  Not only is that knowledge freeing and door opening, I find it more and more easy to become distracted from the best to the better.  Or, from my vision in life to a happy distraction.

Distractions come in many forms: decadent indulgences, pretty things; feeling less than others; feeling better than others; from a plethora of good things to a plethora of bad things, none of which are our personal ideal of what we want out of life.

Happiness, as I have been told, is the feeling that comes from things that are temporary but pleasant.  Eating a delicious meal or favorite dessert, buying a beautiful dress or jewelry, winning an award, becoming famous, receiving positive attention, going on a desired outing, or anything that brings happy feelings.

Joy, on the other hand, is lasting.  Joy is a feeling which comes from knowing what is of true value in the long run, and living in a way which puts the things of true value in the foreground of your life and your attention.

The things that make me happy are: making art, selling art, making anything beautiful, building a structure I want to use for something, eating ice cream, eating chocolate, looking in the mirror and being pleased with my image, riding my horse, reading a novel, surfing you tube, doing what I want.  These are a few of the things that make me feel happy or even blissful for a few minutes.  But those moments are not lasting.

The things that bring me joy are: spending time enjoying my family and grandchildren, feeling a connection with a special friend, feeling that I have helped someone, teaching someone something I think will bless their lives, sharing my experiences in hopes my story might benefit someone, learning something, feeling God’s love for me, feeling love for others, realizing things I never understood before, following what I know to be right after I learn about it.

Malcolm Ringwalt, one of my teachers, once asked the students in his class, “What do you value most?”

Going deep inside myself I asked myself, “What do I value most?”  I had been so involved in learning survival skills, and awareness skills, I thought my answer would have something to do with that.  Boy was I in for a shock!  What an eye opening exercise.  I found the things I was hotly pursuing were not what I valued most.

What do I value most?  MY CHILDREN.  Period.  End of sentence.   I value my children before art, before, food, before a career, before going to classes, before everything except my relationship with God.  I also realized I was spending the majority of my time and attention away from what I valued most.  Time to shift gears, change horses in the middle of the stream, make a change!

Each day brings opportunities.  How will I spend my time?

Beading the sweater my daughter will wear to prom was a good time to contemplate how I spend my time.  I realized I was neglecting my housework; I was neglecting my “career” as an artist; and that was just fine because I was doing something infinitely more valuable, for me and for my daughter.  I was doing something out of love and devotion for her.

She would often sit and read to me, as I worked, to keep me company.  Or she would do my horse chores to free me up to work on her sweater.  We experienced a cooperation and a sharing of love and support.  I didn’t make any art to sell, and my house is a disaster (still waiting for me), but I created something infinitely more valuable — a stronger and better relationship with my daughter.

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