Finding Happiness Even in Sorrow

I am reading The Wise Heart, by Jack Kornfield in preparation for my FINAL course if my Doctoral program at McCormick theological Seminary. In it I read:

“In popular Western culture we are taught that the way achieve happiness is to change our external environment to fit our wishes. But this strategy does not work. In every life, pleasure and pain, gain and loss, praise and blame keep showing up, no matter how hard we struggle to have only pleasure, gain, and praise…states of consciousness are far more crucial than outer circumstances.” 

This is sage advice from the author’s  Buddhist tradition. How often we allow our sense of happiness to be directed by what is happening around us. When this is the case and we are fixated in things always being ‘good’ we find ourselves oscillating from being ‘happy’ to being ‘sad.’ What is worse, we bring others along with us.

What if we were to take the advice of this ancient Eastern religion to heart? What if we were to begin to do the work necessary to alter our state of consciousness so that when joy arrives or tragedy falls upon us we are in a good state to live through those moments? We can be sure that in our lives there will be more nuances than just joy, bliss and happiness. There is a great verse in the Great Big Sea hit song Ordinary day –

In this beautiful life, but there’s always some sorrow
It’s a double-edged knife, but there’s always tomorrow
It’s up to you now if you sink or swim,
Keep the faith and your ship will come in.
It’s not so bad

Life is defines by a series of ups and downs.  There is much syncopation in the rhythm of our lives. Sometimes the beat which is stressed is the weakest. If are secure in our own spirit and if we understand what beloved Children of God we are, we are ready to dance to the most unorthodox of tunes. Some of the happiest people I have met have been living in the midst of unbelievable grief, pain or sorrow. At the same time, some of the unhappiest I have come to know are thrown off by the smallest of challenges. Life is like that.

It is a beautiful life – but there is always some sorrow. If we do not come to accept that we will always be held hostage to the external factors that dictate our lives. It is a double-edged knife – ‘there is always tomorrow.’ Tomorrow to may bring its own joy and/or sorrow. Question is: have we become conscious and aware of ourselves enough to know that we are precious and beloved? Loved when we laugh and loved when we weep – can we be happy/content even through the pain and the tears?


This morning I woke up to what Buddhist call good Karma! – First my newfound friend Florence Jarvis (The Cancer Warrior of Perks of Cancer fame) had replied to my blog that she just wrote about being mindful you can follow the link here –

Then I opened my daily meditation fron Henri Nouwen to discover this:

Choosing Joy

 Joy is what makes life worth living, but for many joy seems hard to find. They complain that their lives are sorrowful and depressing. What then brings the joy we so much desire? Are some people just lucky, while others have run out of luck? Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event, but one may choose to live it quite differently than the other. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it.

What makes us human is precisely this freedom of choice.

To quote the Cancer Warrior Princess – “Coincidence? I say there is no such thing. We are sharing the same energy.”

Have a great Monday everyone.

4 thoughts on “Finding Happiness Even in Sorrow

Add yours

  1. I love Great Big Sea. I love that song, which celebrates gratitude for what we have and resilience – how we deal with disappointment. These two behaviours can make us happier, and better people. Thanks Canon Kevy for a wonderful few minutes enjoying your post and the music of Newfoundland.

  2. I try to find a positive in the most painful of experiences; it doesn’t change the situation but it does enable you to deal with it so that you aren’t devastated and possessed by it. Way back when I was in high school I had a teacher, I loved and respected who said that even in the happiest of times, one is never completely happy and that you can never be so in this world.

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