My son John and I have a close bond, and I feel we’re soul mates. We’re both single and somewhat "footloose and fancy-free." Since we live near each other, we get together regularly.
He was over for dinner the other night. As usual, our conversation occasionally drifted to reminiscences of our rather colorful Sicilian immigrant family.
After John left, I got to thinking about my mother’s side of this fascinating family. Including her, there were eight brothers and sisters, plus uncountable children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Their lives and personalities were as wildly varied as you could possibly imagine.
Some were gentle family folks who lived out their lives peacefully and quietly. Others lived on the wild side of life, engaged in the questionable activities often associated with Sicilian Americans. But, one and all, they were a colorful lot. They loved one another and us, their children, unconditionally.
As I was mulling over all this that night, my thoughts drifted back to years gone by. First, to the oldest of my mother’s siblings, and the first to die. And then to the last to die.
The last to die was my aunt, nearly 100 years old. She’d led a mostly unhappy life. Nothing was ever right in her world. I loved her dearly, and was close to her. But she lived a long and pretty sad life.
The first to die was one of my uncles. He was on the other end of the spectrum from his sister. A colorful character who could have come straight out of The Godfather. He died fairly young, at just barely half the age of his sister, when I was not quite a teenager.
My uncle lived a short, but joyful life. As a kid, I loved being around him. He was so full of energy and the joy of life. It was pure fun being with him. And it was fun just being in his house. Even if he wasn’t there, I could feel his energy all about me.
While some questioned and criticized his lifestyle, he really knew how to live joyfully. He had fun, and he died with no regrets. That was over 50 years ago, and I still have clear, fond memories of him.
Which brings us, in a roundabout and long-winded way, to today’s subject.
Our modern society often judges human life by its length and not by the quality of that life. And "quality," for Joseph and me, means JOY. It’s the old "quantity versus quality" thing.
If someone dies young, that is nearly always seen as a tragedy. If someone dies after many long years, that is acceptable, even if they lived all those years in total misery.
In my honest opinion, that perspective is flawed because it equates success with quantity (the number of years) and not with quality (the joy of those years).
Among the most frequent questions Joseph and I get in private readings (if not the most frequent) are these: Why am I here? What’s my purpose in this life?
Our answer: Joy. Pure and simple, that’s it. Our only purpose in coming to this life is to experience joy.
Here are Joseph’s thoughts on all this.
Dear ones, there is so much - so very much - to be joyful about in your world today. Oh, we are aware your United States are at war with Iraq. And we are aware of the many other human conflicts and dramas dotting your globe.
But, even in that world you are now living in, there is far, far more to be joyful about than you can possibly imagine. In fact, there is far, far more good in your world today than that which you would call "bad" or "evil."
Yes, you live in tumultuous and, from a human perspective, traumatic times. But that is part of the grandness and wonder of your lives - you get to choose, from that vast sea of diversity, what you want to experience in your personal lives, what you want to create in your personal experiences. You get to choose, and no one can "preempt" your choice.
Your individual choices and experiences have absolutely no causal connection with the mass consciousness. Let us repeat that: What is happening in the world today has no effect, positive or negative, in your lives. EXCEPT for what you give your attention to.
And that is the key. You’ve heard us say this many times: What you give most of your attention to is what you manifest in your lives. If you vividly imagine going to war and being killed in battle, you’ll likely be killed in battle. If you imagine prospering mightily in the midst of what your economists call a faltering economy, you’ll likely be prospering mightily.
You get the idea. You get to choose what to create in your lives. It doesn’t matter one whit what the rest of the world is choosing. If you were the one single, solitary human on the planet choosing to be joyful - while every one of the others was choosing otherwise - you would be joyful.
Do you get it, dear ones? Do you sense, understand, or at least have an inkling of, what we’re talking about?
Do not ever measure your own personal success by comparing yourselves to any other. You do not need to live under that dark cloud.
The only true measure of success, from your soul’s perspective, is the amount of joy you’ve experienced in your life – not the number of years, the number of dollars, the number of victories.
None of that matters. All that matters is the joy you feel.
The Book of Joy: How to Live Every Day of Your Life Happily Ever After.
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