So it seems that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke doesn't feel the economy is getting any better. His report was that the economy is not only not getting better but it’s probably going to continue getting worse. He stated that people are “…dissatisfied with what the economy is doing right now”. My initial response? A very sarcastic, “RRRRRREEEALLY?”
Interesting but I’m wondering if he is as unhappy with it as many of us are considering he still has a job and he makes a reportedly $142,000+ a year. I don’t know about you but my outlook of the economic situation would be slightly better were I making that type of money.
But money doesn’t buy us happiness right? Or does it? I think having an increase in cash flow does bring us some level of happiness if even for a fleeting moment. In fact we know that when given a small wad of cash the pleasure center of the brain lights up for a few moments the same as it does when given food, sex or some drugs. It just makes you feel better.
For some it brings security and the ability to protect themselves from negative circumstances. Part of the purpose of life is to experience the ups and downs of this earthly experience. If life were a constant state of happiness, we would miss out on the whole experience. But for many people the lack of funds is a constant emotional pressure that continues to pile up. Every day is a constant reminder that we have no money when everything around us is demanding one thing from us: our money. I know more people in my immediate sphere of influence who are making at or below poverty level and I live in a fairly affluent area of the country. This constant, financial nagging brings us down every day and so those periods of joy and happiness are very few and far between. For many people life seems to be one destructive day after another with no end in sight.
What brings you joy? What brings you a true sense of happiness? I mean a TRUE sense of it – when the smile goes from your face right down to the depths of your soul? What makes your heart sing out? Is it possible to smile through destruction? Is it possible to laugh during moments of sorrow? Is it possible to feel joy during so much despair? Where is joy? Maybe we don’t allow ourselves to be happy because we fear it may be at the expense of someone else? Or we feel guilty because people around us are not happy. Maybe there really is a martyr gene in some of us?
Here is the secret to life. Are you ready? You can write it down or copy and paste it or whatever you need to do to remember it but here is my response to the age-old question: what is the meaning of life?
The meaning of life is three-fold: First, allowing ourselves to be happy. Stop punishing ourselves for our past mistakes. God reminds us that when we ask forgiveness he takes that and throws it as far as the east is from the west – in a straight line – never looking back. Yet we continue to usurp God and we constantly look back, beat ourselves up over it, and punish ourselves.
Second, we need to decide if we are going to be PROactive or REactive. When we choose happiness we are being PROactive but when we allow life to choose for us and to dictate our response we are being REactive.
Third, we choose to allow life to empower us or defeat us. But the choice is ours. We THINK that it is life that doesn’t allow us to make these choices but that is only the defeatist’ point of view. Allowing every circumstance to empower us to rise above it in spite of the circumstance – THAT is the key.The bottom line answer: the meaning of life is made of choices.
I have often said that no one has the right to steal your joy. I recognize that many people also give it away. Joy is yours – no one should be able to take it and no one should demand or expect you to give it away. This shift in thinking takes a lot of work because it demands that we dig down to the core of who we are on a daily basis – right down to our foundations – and to fix what is broken.
Life is like walking a mountain path with a blindfold on. You have no on at the end to pull off the blindfold for you and suddenly reveal all life’s great mysteries. Each step can bring about a moment of enlightenment. Each step can become a pivotal moment in our lives. Life is a group of steps all strung together. Like stepping stones. It is our choice to fear the stepping stones, or pick them up and throw them at the Goliath we call life.
Oh God, in mystery and silence you are present in our lives, bringing new life out of destruction, hope out of despair, growth out of difficulty. We thank you that you do not leave us alone but labor to make us whole. Help us to perceive your unseen hand in the unfolding of our lives, and to attend to the gentle guidance of your Spirit, that we may know the JOY that you give to your people. Amen! From Bread for the Journey, ed. Ruth Duck, Copyright 1989, The Pilgrim Press, Cleveland, OH; reprinted by permission