Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bluebird of Happiness

A sign in a pet store read, “If anybody has seen the Bluebird of Happiness, would you please notify this pet store?”

Happiness seems to be in short supply for many people. If the results of recent surveys can be trusted, there is a general decline of happiness in to­day’s world. And people were not all that cheerful a few years back! It was Oliver Wendell Holmes who stated, “I might have been a minister for aught I know, if a certain clergyman had not looked and talked like an undertaker.” (I have to say, though, that some clergy and undertakers I’ve known could teach the rest of us something about joy.)

Joy and happiness are not always the same things. Happiness can be thought of as more of a temporary, emotional condition, often based on outside circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, is deeper. It is often contentment in spite of the unsettling present. We can be basically joyful, re­gardless of a particular unhappy situation that we may be endur­ing. It is sometimes just a matter of keeping per­spective on our troubles, and especially when those troubles seem to be in long supply.

You may know the story of the man who had a marvelous way of keeping joy in his life. He was a carpenter. He followed the same ritual every day when he came home from the job. He stopped by a small tree in his front yard and placed his hand on a couple of branches. Then, when he walked into his home, it was as if a magical transformation had oc­curred. All of a sudden, the stress was lifted from him. He became energetic and joyful, able to fully interact with his children and his wife.

He explained it this way: “That tree is my trouble tree. When I come home I stop by the tree and, just like I leave my tools in the truck, I leave my troubles outside of my home. I hang them on that tree before greeting my family. Anything that does not have to come into my house stays outside. Anything that I do not have to deal with at home, I leave on that tree. And in the morning, I stop by the tree and pick up the troubles I left there in the evening.”

Then he adds, “It’s a funny thing, though. Every morning I always find fewer troubles remaining than I hung the night before.”

Here is a man who has no doubt seen the Bluebird of Happiness. Chances are, it is nesting in a tree just outside his home.

There is wisdom in knowing that some problems can wait until tomorrow. And more wis­dom in knowing what to hang on the tree and what to bring in. Managing daily problems well is vital to maintaining joy.

-- Steve Goodier

Image: DeLoach


Anonymous said...

It's indeed a difference between Happiness and Joy. Thanks for the article and all your articles never fails to lift me up. I used some of it to share w friends who are not in the right frame of mind and some who are going through a rough patch in life.

Thanks, Steve!

Petru said...

"Happiness can be
thought of as more of a temporary, emotional condition, often based
on outside circumstances." - that's for discussion. Happiness is an inner state, a feeling. Outside circumstances belong to luck. Of course, "luck" and "happiness" are cousins, but not necessarily.
In some languages, there is only one word for "luck" and "happiness" (e.g., German). But others, like English, have two. Let's leave them separate..

This is my first post to S.G., my good fellow.