When I was a pre-teen, I would imagine that someone had given me several thousand dollars. Then I would study the Service Merchandise catalogue and choose which pieces of jewelry on which to spend my newly acquired wealth. After I calculated the cost of the pieces I wanted the most, I had never given myself enough pretend money. So I just pretended myself some more. This sounds like a silly child's game, and it is. But during this season of extravagant consumerism, I wonder if sometimes adults play this game for real, assuming that more is better. That more will somehow satisfy. Maybe even that more is the key to happiness. Will buying more make a more joyous Christmas? Will acquiring (fill in the blank) bring happiness, fulfillment, satisfaction, success, etc.?
There is a huge difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is fleeting; joy is foundational. Real joy settles deep down in the soul, in the essence of my being, regardless of circumstance. Joy is an overwhelming sense of well-being, of hope in the face of hopelessness, of contentment when life is in flux, of being settled and comfortable with my "self"--the essence of who I am. Joy bursts into my life when I find that place of spiritual definition.
Things cannot give me joy, or even happiness. A healthy spirit can.
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