Do you believe you know the answer? After reading this article, your definition of joy may be different.
I was walking along the busiest street in the city. The weather was nice, and I must say I experienced a sense joy of just being there with others.
I was not alone, but with a friend who came to visit me here in this wonderful city.
"Can you see and experience the beauty of our surroundings?'' asked my friend. "Sometimes, I have the feeling that we need to be aware of our surroundings, and not act just as passive bystanders. Surroundings are one kind of `simple pleasure`for me, and I know why is it like that."
"As I understand it, `simple pleasures' don't exist. Pleasure is pleasure and we cannot measure its intensity. Am I right?" I asked.
"I am not sure" was his response. "My point is simple: we should be thankful for every `simple pleasure' we enjoy in every moment of the day."
With a surprise I admitted,"I really don't understand where you are coming from."
"You`ll understand when you hear my story".
"As a young boy, I spent many years under the siege in my hometown; there was no running water, electricity, or adequate food. I had to find my way between the snipers' fire and bombs just to get home. The biggest question faced was `Can I reach my destination alive?'
"In all those days and months, I had just one goal in my mind: to survive. During the siege, we had no pleasure or joy in life. Our only joy was having one more day with running water, electricity, food, and with no snipers or grenades. Could you imagine our happiness with these `simple pleasures'?"
"I have personal experience regarding simple pleasures," I added.
"Even today, many years after the war, I am thankful for my running water, electricity and my food. Since then, these `simple pleasures' make my life full of joy. How can I explain my bliss?
I can't. If you have not experienced the siege of a city or any other natural disaster, you simply cannot understand what makes us happy and why. Therefore, I am asking people to feel a sense of joy, bliss, and happiness just because of running water. Does that sound odd to you?"
"Well, at first...yes," I answered.
"We need to teach people that joy is all around us," my friend said. "It is within us, not in front of or behind us. Do not wait for `different circumstances' to happen, we must enjoy our lives now. Yes, I am asking everyone to appreciate the running water, electricity, and the food in their life. Even today, somewhere in the world people are without these things; they have no running water, they are under fire, and they have no food."
"Your definition of joy and happiness is very simple, isn't it?"
"Yes, it is very simple. What about your definition?" he asked.
"You should rethink your definitions of joy and happiness. I've changed my approach to life after all these negative circumstances in my life. Today, these `simple pleasures' create joy, even bliss, in my life. If, with all of these, we still don't know how to be happy, it is because we have false ideas about happiness. We need to revise how we think about happiness and joy. Everything we need in life is there, waiting for us to enjoy it."
"You are feeling good about yourself now, aren't you?"
"My feeling good comes from my sense that I am pleased with what I have achieved in my spiritual life. I learned my lesson in the hardest of ways, hoping to survive during the war in my country.
To experience the joy of life, I am not expecting `miracles' to happen to me. I am looking for `simple pleasures.'"
"A joyful life is an individual creation and there is no recipe for how to get it," was my comment.
"I agree. Despite your comments, my story could help any person to feel bliss just with the `simple pleasures.' I am living proof of the statement, `No matter what happens to you, you are going to benefit from it.'
"The war was terrible thing, but from that experience, I replaced my old way of living with a new, more rewarding one. No one can give you happiness. You must claim it for yourself."
I was thinking about my friend's `lesson' today. Is he teaching us a lesson about war or about happiness? I didn't want to make any comment or to ask any additional questions. Everything we encounter in life has something to teach us.
The only thing I wanted to say to him was this, "I like your ability to think clearly, simply and positively."
"Thank you. I hope you got my message."
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