||Gifts of the Soul
A Quarterly Column
|by Laura Grace
Gifts of the Soul
The Courage to Be Happy
Happiness is inward and not outward;
and so it does not depend on what we have,
but on what we are.
--Henry Van Dyke
Happiness is our birthright. It’s the goal of our life. Yes, there will be times when we will suffer, but some of the most influential and healing people on our planet are those who choose and allow
themselves to be happy, no matter the circumstance.
In order to experience genuine happiness, we must understand what happiness is and where it comes from. And sometimes, it’s easier to start with what it is not. Heartfelt happiness has nothing to do
with external circumstances; it’s not based upon what we have or what we do. The most ambitious accomplishments cannot provide us with lasting happiness, nor can beauty, money or fame. None of the idols we subscribe to can ever fulfill us for happiness comes from within and
cannot be discovered outside ourselves.
Rick Foster & Greg Hicks, authors of How We Choose to Be Happy affirm, “True happiness is a profound, enduring feeling of contentment, capability and centeredness. It’s a rich sense of well-being
that comes from knowing you can deal productively and creatively with all that life offers—both the good and the bad. It’s knowing your eternal self and responding to your real needs, rather than the demands of others.”
Further, happiness is a choice; it’s less about our circumstances and more about our attitude. Recently, after facilitating A Course in Miracles lesson titled “My happiness and
function are one,” a group of us committed to choosing happiness for fourteen days. When we reconvened two weeks later, everyone agreed that the mornings we meditated and consciously chose happiness, our days were filled with contentment, even some bliss. But on the days we
didn’t, fear, anxiety and stress influenced our daily lives. We also discovered that the first week of choosing happiness was easier than the second week. Resistance—the ego’s crafty ploy—crept in, preventing the same amount of satisfaction and peace from occurring. A
Course in Miracles reminds us that the “happy learner” is someone who recognizes we can just as easily learn through joy as pain, for the choice is ours: “There is no need to learn through pain. And gentle lessons are acquired joyously, and are remembered gladly.”
Finally, courage is an essential ingredient to living a happy life. It requires courage to allow yourself to be genuinely happy. We do not yet reside in a society that supports happy people. There are countless
support groups for those suffering, but not for those who take risks, go beyond self-imposed limitations and live life with gusto. Robert Anthony once penned, "Most people would rather be certain they're miserable, than risk being happy."
Since we can’t give what we don’t have, it will be difficult to embrace another’s joy if we are not feeling good about our own life. So if you are truly ready to be happy, then you must accept that not everyone will
necessarily be happy for you. It all depends on their perception of their own life. A wonderful affirmation a friend passed on to me for living a courageously happy life is: “I have the courage to be happy.”
In my own life, I have discovered there are certain qualities that a “happy learner” possesses. They are qualities which lead not only to happiness, but to integrity, conviction and healing as well:
1) Taking Responsibility—realize you are not a victim and are accountable for your thoughts, feelings and actions, and everything that happens is occurring for the unfoldment of your greatest good;
2) Clear Intention—become clear of what makes you happy, making choices accordingly and setting a clear intention that is in line with your life’s purpose;
3) Looking for Lessons—acknowledge that every situation is an opportunity for growth and can be reframed in a positive and healing manner, which reminds me of John Barrie’s quote, “The secret of happiness is not getting
what you like, but liking what you get.”;
4) Appreciation—actively appreciating your life and the people in it; practicing staying in the moment and having reverence for life as something extraordinary and invaluable;
5) Honesty—recognize your truth and speaking it with sensitivity and love;
6) Compassion and Extension—being willing to give from a place of beneficence without expectations or demands.
Express the courage to choose happiness. As you let your own light shine, you give permission to others to be happy, too.
© Copyright 2006
Laura Grace. All Rights Reserved.
Read Laura's Past Columns:
Jan-Apr 2006- "Turning Mistakes into Lessons"
Oct-Dec 2005- "Be Still"
July-Sept 2005 - "Balancing Your Wheel of Life"
- "Imaginary Borders"
2005 - "Witnessing the Truth About Your Life"
2004 - "Letting Go"
2004 - "Progressing with Passion"
2004 - "Deepening Your Spiritual Practice"
2004 - "Life's Crossroads: Love-vs-Fear"
January-February 2004 - "Faith the Foundation for Every
2003 Column - "Touching the Heart of Others"
2003 Column - "Knowing How to Care for Yourself"
2003 Column - "Dreaming a Happy Life"
2003 Column - "Living the Authentic Life"
2003 Column - "Rising Above the Battleground"
2003 Column - "Healing Through Your
2003 Column - "Are You Going with the Flow?"
2003 Column - "Living the Soulful Life"
2002 Column - "The Power to Change"
2002 Column - "Peace Begins at Home"
Column - "Spiraling to Higher Ground"
September 2002 Column - "Cradled in Nature's
August 2002 Column - "Recovering
Laura Grace is Co-founder of Infinite Wisdom, an organization dedicated to the highest human capacity, and a national author and speaker.
She is also host of the TV show "Relationship Wisdom." As a regular contributor for publications across the U.S. and Canada, Laura writes about human awareness and spiritual growth. Laura is the author of the widely acclaimed books The Intimate Soul and Gifts of the Soul, and the creator and teacher of various programs including the Self-Mastery Program, The Art of Compassionate Forgiveness, Wonderful Women: Reclaiming Our Power, Passion and Purpose, and Cultivating the Intimate Life. Please visit Laura's web site at:
As a spiritual counselor, Laura provides assistance in person and by phone. You may contact her for a free brochure at: