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Happiness loves an open heart

 

"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.

Picture credit:

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/103/257645685_d2591d3083.jpg

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary Jaksch | Goodlife ZEN February 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Lovely post, Chris. It’s interesting how we can find happiness in unexpected places.
Mary Jaksch | Goodlife ZEN recently posted..Want More Love In Your Life Find Your Passion First

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Christopher Foster February 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Thanks Mary. Lovely to hear from you here.

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The Vizier February 16, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Hi Christopher,

I love your title “Happiness loves an open heart.” It is such a simple statement and yet it has such depth that many of us do not fully realize. If our hearts are closed to happiness and love, it will keep our loved ones from drawing near. But if we open our hearts to our loved ones and the world around us, happiness has a compounding effect on our lives.

It’s always nice to read the love that you and JoAnn share. It reminds us of what is truly important in life.

“It’s looking for us in every moment, and it is with us in every moment and in every situation.” This is very true. To experience happiness, we have to live fully in each moment. Each experience we have holds the potential to light up our lives. If we keep thinking about the past or worrying about the future, we will miss this happiness.

Thank you for sharing this lovely article! 🙂

Irving the Vizier
The Vizier recently posted..3 Visits To Ask For Help

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Christopher Foster February 17, 2011 at 9:30 am

Irving, you don’t know how much of a joy it is to open up my blog and see a comment from you. You take such care with your comments and imbue them with such richness and clarity and above all with such a genuine and focused spirit.

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Noel Gaughan February 17, 2011 at 3:47 am

its such a real pleasure to know u Chris and to b able to recommend ur blog to anyone
with love and gratitude
noel gaughhan nee
seonaid o brian

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Christopher Foster February 17, 2011 at 9:22 am

So happy to hear from you Noel. It’s a real pleasure to know you too. Love and blessings to you across the miles.

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rob white February 17, 2011 at 8:33 am

Reading this article was a peaceful experience in itself, Christopher. I love your gentle inquiry into the nature of peace and happiness. Indeed, there really is no right way to articulate what it is… I think when we stop trying to explain everything, we are opening to the direct experience of happiness… those wondrous moments.

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Christopher Foster February 17, 2011 at 9:21 am

Thankyou Rob. What great words and what a pleasure to welcome you here. I love what you say about opening ourselves to the direct experience of happiness. This is so cool. An ounce of true experience is worth 100 tons of theory and fantasizing don’t you think?

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Tess The Bold Life February 17, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Christopher,
I love your happiness and open heart idea. And simple words on Valentine’s Day are enough aren’t they? For me happiness, peace and calm come from within. I have to be willing to access them with my open heart. I love the quote and I believe that’s the book Oprah recommends. I might get that book!
Tess The Bold Life recently posted..The Loving Heart- from Conflict to Peace

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Christopher Foster February 17, 2011 at 7:20 pm

I agree entirely Tess. As you say, happiness and peace come from within — but I don’t even realize their presence unless as you say my heart is open. May I say what a pleasure it is to share with you in this adventure we call life. Blessings.

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Phil Malmstrom February 18, 2011 at 2:41 pm

This was a wonderful, insightful post Christopher. 🙂

Part of a poem I used in my blog this week written by Joanne Gobure contained this :

I asked God to give me happiness.
God said, No.
I give you blessings.
Happiness is up to you.

Reading your article here brought that passage immediately to mind. If we open our hearts to focus on the Blessings our Creator has bestowed on us, happiness and peacefulness are sure to be the result.

Thank you for another wonderful posting, and have a Blessed Day!
Phil Malmstrom recently posted..Life is Noisy

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Christopher Foster February 18, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Thankyou Phil for these lovely words. So happy to share the extract of the poem, it’s beautiful and very apt. You have a blessed day too. It’s always a real pleasure to hear from you.

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