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.