Happiness Is a Virtue

By Ellie Jacobi

I’m going to be happy if I have to die trying!

I paused as I thought about what I just said. A little tickle in my chest told me I just might laugh. But no, not yet. Happiness has become serious business for me.

My exemplar, Abdu’l-Bahá, has said, “It is the wish of our heavenly Father that every heart should rejoice and be filled with happiness…” I hear he often repeated the injunction, “Be happy!” And although I have been making fairly good progress in developing a couple of other virtues, this one really eludes me. Not that I can’t have fun sometimes. But I definitely have a joy deficit. I came to the conclusion early in life (I really believe it may be genetic) that if I ever feel exuberant happiness, disaster will follow. So when something wonderful happens, I look over my shoulder, shudder and sigh. Or I somehow manage to straighten up too soon under the garage door and painfully raise a large lump. “That’s what you get for being too happy!” That evens things out and I am OK again.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a frowning, morose person or the classic pessimist or a generally negative thinker. I even laugh sometimes. Most people don’t recognize my affliction because it comes across as self-control, neutrality or a very even temperament. Virtues all. Misconceptions all. How I long to feel joyous without the next moment thinking “watch out!”

So I am seriously, painstakingly, exhaustingly trying to learn joy and happiness. There is wonderful motivation in the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá. And there are clues as well. I know that I am “in reality a spiritual being and only when he lives in the spirit is he truly happy.” Aha! I must learn to live in the spirit. Now to find out what that means.

“Spiritual happiness is eternal and unfathomable” and “is the true basis of the life of man because life is created for happiness.” “Spiritual happiness is life eternal.” Now that kind of worries me. Does this mean I won’t have eternal life until I find out how to be happy? Probably not.

“Joy gives us wings! In times of joy our strength is more vital, our intellect keener and our understanding less clouded.” Wow! Now that’s motivation to get to this happiness thing.

One practice I have begun is to constantly affirm, “I will be a happy and joyful being.” I think it’s helping. And I meditate on these clues: Abdu’l-Bahá tells me “Happiness is but the love of God.” ‘This great blessing and precious gift is obtained by man only through the guidance of God.” “When we find truth, constancy, fidelity and love, we are happy…” “True happiness depends on spiritual good and having the heart ever open to receive Divine bounty.” Hmmm.

I can assure you that happiness is not a selfish act. “The happiness of the world depends on man, and the happiness of man is dependent upon the spirit. “I want you to be happy…to laugh, smile and rejoice in order that others may be made happy by you.” Oh! Responsibility!

So here I am. Wanting to make others happy, wanting to love God more, wanting to live in the spirit. And wanting to experience living in spiritual joy.

“I WILL be a happy and joyful being.”

If you see me, please smile. Or laugh. Encourage me. And most of all be happy. Pray God I will achieve this before I raise another lump.

Hey! I think I feel at least a giggle coming on!

Oops, just barked my shin on the coffee table.

Sigh.

© 2017 Ellie Jacobi

Ellie is a native Madisonian, but a world citizen member of the Baha’i Faith.

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3 Responses to Happiness Is a Virtue

  1. deborahpm says:

    Ellie, You have a shin to bark! Yay! I’m reading the Soul of Money and start a discussion class with it today at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville. Appreciating what one has, is touted as a starting point for wealth, as well. The author proposes that all plans for money start with appreciating the amazing reserves we have. Three days ago I saw a grey-bearded man whiz by me on a bike. He had at least one titanium artificial leg. How happy I felt watching him GO! Lots of love and peace, Deborah

  2. Sariah Daine says:

    Love this!………looking for the other shoe to drop when extremely happy seems to be more common than I ever would have thought.
    Told so very clearly in this story.
    Thanks, Ellie. Good to know I’m not alone in this….yet, sorry you’re also on this journey.
    And……yes……it Does get better. Hachacha!
    Sariah

  3. Ginny says:

    I find for me that joy and happiness are two separate things. Joy is intrinsic and closer to God. It is something you have some choice in experiencing…akin to awe and wonder. It comes from a deep well within you. Happiness is more dependent on your environment, other people and how you interact with the outside world…hot showers make me happy, a restful sleep, the love of my husband, the health of my children, the birthday card from my grandson. I do not ever look for the proverbial shoe to drop, although it can and does. I just don’t look for it. Both are wonderful.

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