"If your everyday practice is to open to all your emotions, to all the people you meet, to all the situations you encounter, without closing down, trusting that you can do that -- then that will take you as far as you can go. And then you will understand all the teachings that anyone has ever taught." -- Pema Chodron
The other day -- it was Valentine's Day -- I felt an urge to say something to JoAnn, my wife. I hunted her down -- not too difficult in our small town house -- and locked my loving gaze on her and said: "You look as young as the day I first met you."
She didn't blink an eye." It's because I'm happy," she said, and as she said it, this miracle that we call a smile appeared on her face like a beam of sunshine suddenly illuminating the petals of a flower.
Where do peace and happiness come from?
Where does it come from, this elusive, transcendent experience that, for want of a better word, we call happiness? Come to that, where does a smile come from?
And while I'm at it, where does inner peace come from? Where does the stillness, so magical, so alive, that I am feeling in this moment, for example -- where does that come from?
There are some things I will never understand with my mind. I think once in awhile it's good for the soul to take a moment and acknowledge this.
Happiness loves an open heart
But the beautiful thing is that we don't need to know what happiness is, or what peace is, or what truth is, to be able to experience it.
I do know that happiness loves an open heart. It loves a heart that is strong, but also soft, and resilient. A heart and mind that, above all, yearns to be free, and meet the truth of its own existence.
While I have no idea what happiness is, or where it comes from, there's something else I know. Whatever happiness is -- true, lasting happiness that is not dependent upon external circumstances – it longs to find greater expression through us.
It's looking for us in every moment, and it is with us in every moment and in every situation.
Happiness waits for us in unexpected places
Sometimes -- this was true for me -- being broken open like a walnut cracked open by a nutcracker allows the happiness and joy that is our true nature to renew itself in us and flood through us with increasing joy and spontaneity.
This process of being broken open can hurt like hell, of course, while it is going on. But I agree with this quote from a beautiful little book called "Finding Inner Courage," by Mark Nepo, a poet, author and cancer survivor.
Here's the quote: "When pushed below our frightened sense of self, we do not die. We live."
Trust the power of love
So when I caught myself grieving the other day for someone I love who is going through a difficult time, I stopped and thought: "It is right that I grieve. But difficult though his situation may be, as he stays open to life and trusts the power of love it will surely unlock within him a timeless happiness and peace greater than he has ever known before."
Any thoughts about any of this? I'd love to hear from you. Look for my exciting online course on the true potential of aging this April or May, "How to look (and feel) 10 years younger in four weeks."
Love and blessings.