Two of the many meanings for joy in Webster’s dictionary are: state of happiness, and the emotion evoked by the prospect of possessing what one desires. In our modern world, the media uses “the prospect of possessing what one desires” in countless forms of advertising and entertainment. The implied promise is that a product, idea, or celebrity will bring you happiness.
But happiness is not an end that can be sought. Happiness is the consequence of “right action.” The ancient Greek poet and playwright, Euripides, has the quote that introduces Chapter One: in Opening Hearts. He said, “The greatest pleasure of life is love.”
Happiness isn’t the result of possessing anything. It results from satisfying relationships with others, with oneself, and with the Divine Creator. Satisfying relationships seem to be elusive for many people. In Chapter 8: Love & Meaning-Answering Life’s Basic Questions, Dr. Sauvage reflects on his personal views of happiness and backs up his views with some science (of course). Here is a snippet from the section entitled Loving Relationships: The Key to Happiness:
In 1937 Harvard University initiated the Grant Study. It was a longitudinal study on adult development and its goal was to reveal the formula for the good life. In other words, these Harvard scientists were seeking the formula for a happy life. This comprehensive study followed 268 well-adjusted Harvard undergraduates throughout their lives. After seventy-five years of what is likely the most exhaustive study of its kind, the results reported in 2012 found that “the only thing that really matters in life [is] your relationships to other people.” Other more short-term happiness research confirmed these results and affirmed that relationships are the key to happiness. They also added the following characteristics or behaviors that predict happiness which sound very similar to my spiritual action plan outlined in Chapter 9:
- Perform altruistic acts regularly (be of service to others)
- Be grateful (develop an “attitude of gratitude”)
- Share novel experiences with a loved one (live fully)
- Forgive others readily (love generously)
These “right actions” are the behaviors that produce consequential happiness. As you seek to create peace then, ask yourself:
Have I been of service today?
Am I grateful?
Am I living fully?
Am I forgiving readily?
 This quote is from George Vallient, caretaker of the study for over four decades. Quoted in Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five by John Medina, Pear Press, Seattle Washington, 2010, pp. 165-166