Last week I began talking about the issue of happiness and how happiness is hinged on external conditions such as relationships, things, careers, stuff....Our happiness is largely conditional based on if things go the way we think they should go and if people act the way we think they should act.

This leaves alot of our own happiness tied to someone else's shirt tails and when he leaves, your happiness goes right out the door with him. Last week I got to tell some fun stories about my mom and her concepts of happiness.

What I talked about regarding my mom is her 'joy' which was far different than her happiness. She wasn't always happy. My father was murdered. That certainly did not bring happiness. Her 2nd husband stole her life savings and was a sociopath. No happiness there. Her last 'main squeeze' in her life died of prostrate cancer--a lot of sadness there. Yet, my mother was unusually 'joyful.'

Because joy has to do with the quality of US, not them. It's a me factor, not a him, or them, factor. Happiness may be external but joy is internal and in many ways eternal. It imminates from within us and can exist even when the external cirucmstances of our lives 'suck.'

Joy can be infectious and can touch others when how we are has nothing to do with who we are with. It's a barometer reading of how we are doing with ourselves and in our own spiritual development. It reminds us how we are doing with managing our own outlook, optimism, and future. We may not have control over what he's doing, who he's doing, or how he's doing but we do have control over how we choose to see our circumstances. This is the essence of internal joy--managing the world view from the inside instead of taking your emotional temperature based on how well he's behaving. How I am or how my joy is can't be taken by a thermometer from his mouth. It has to be taken from our internal and eternal wellbeing.

When you are finally able to shift your focus of 'where' and 'how' joy is created, it is a mind blowing change. Because you no longer hold tight to the reins of external control---I'll be happy when someone else does this_________. You are able to refocus on finding joy in your life, just the way it is, with yourself and all your warts.  In fact, over the past couple years I wrote about this regarding Viktor Frankel a jewish psychiatrist who went thru the Holocaust and developed what is now called 'Existential Psychology' which is finding meaning in pain AND taking control of how you see what you have lived thru.

If all pain is bad then there is no gift in it. If there is no gift there is no learning. If there is no learning there is no opportunity to transform it. If you can't transform it, you are it's victim.

Joy comes from right perspective when we tweak how we see ourselves, our lives, and the lessons of our lives. When life is a spiritual walk not just a relationship destination, we are able to see the lessons as part of the journey and the OPTION of having joy even in the midst of a unplanned disaster like a pathological relationship. Joy is like a new eye glass prescription--it clears up and crisps up how we see who we are on this journey and path of life even while in pain.

Your pain does not have to define you. That's your choice. You are more than your pain. And so is your life!

If we can help you in 2012 move forward in your joy, please consider joining us for the ONLY TWO retreats we are doing in 2012. February and March. Contact us for more information.

Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.

About the Author

Sandra L. Brown, M.A.

Sandra L. Brown, M.A., is CEO of The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and Public Pathology Education.

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