You cannot have lasting happiness until you meet its conditions. It is directly tied to inner peace.
So what are the conditions to be met to have lasting joy? Some of the conditions are inner peace, forgiveness, non-judgment, feeling a connection with everything, guiltlessness, innocence, gentleness, open-mindedness, tolerance, patience, absence of anger, absence of fear and absence of a feeling of lack. It seems obvious. Of course you would have lasting happiness if you had all of that. What is less obvious is that you can choose to have all of those.
To have lasting joy and inner peace you must choose them as your goal and priority. So whatever the situation, you decide in advance to have peace as your goal. Since you have set your goal, you will find the means to achieve it. Just don't make other goals more important to you or you will have divided and conflicting goals. Without setting your ultimate goal in advance, life will just seem to happen to you and you will seem to be a helpless victim of outside circumstances. That need not be.
Lack is a state of mind. You don't feel whole so you look outside yourself for completion. That will never work. You get the possessions you think you want, or the right job, or the right partner and still you are not completely happy and are forced to look elsewhere for what will complete you. Completion is an inside job. Until you feel complete in yourself, you will not have lasting happiness. How can you feel complete in yourself? It is possible, but first you must feel a connection with everything around you. Everything is a part of you. Perhaps that is too esoteric or too "airy-fairy" for you, but as long as you feel "separate," you will feel vulnerable, weak and fearful. That is the choice you make. So what does lack have to do with feeling separate? To feel a connection to everything is to be part of the whole. To be apart and separate from the whole is to experience lack, to feel disconnected and to feel fear.
Let the past go. It is gone. It is not here to cloud the present unless you insist on dragging it into the present. That is forgiveness. Would you allow a dark and poisonous past to spoil your present happiness? It is a choice you can make. Let the dark past go or let it ruin your future. This is also the choice for innocence and guiltlessness. Be reborn in the present moment with a clean slate. You cannot go back and remake the past. What about past crimes? It is true that in this world there can be consequences for past actions, but it is also true that you can be reborn this moment and live a totally different life. Are you willing to do that? It is a choice. Choose love instead of hate. Choose love instead of fear. Choose light instead of darkness. Choose peace instead of anger. Choose forgiveness instead of vengeance. Choose to be nonjudgmental rather than judgmental. Choose one or the other. If you choose judgment, anger or fear, then happiness and peace of mind will evaporate. There is a great sense of relief and release in letting go of hate, anger, bitterness and judgment. And with that release will come joy and peace and love.
Jim Meissner lives in Ashland and contributes to the Inner Peace blog on the Tidings website.
New: The Ashland Daily Tidings now has short Inner Peace blog articles posted on its website. Look for the peace dove logo in the blogs section. Log on when you feel the need for an inner peace lift at www.dailytidings.com.
The Ashland Daily Tidings continues to invite residents of the Rogue Valley to submit articles on all aspects of inner peace. Send 600- 700-word articles to Sally McKirgan, firstname.lastname@example.org.