“Can Heaven be a place on Earth?”
What began as an interesting question became a quest to: 1. learn what people of various faiths and backgrounds believe about Heaven, 2. to learn how we are connected in our needs, hopes, and values, and 3. to find a way to connect these concepts with life in the present moment, right here on Earth. What resulted was a compilation of concepts about Heaven from a variety of religious faiths and philosophies. From that list I was able to identify seven meaningful characteristics of Heaven that we could strive to accomplish living on Earth…
2. A Place of Great Joy, Happiness
Our emotions are our response to the influence the world (people, events) has upon us and how we are able to cope with that influence. When we experience sadness, anger, stress, worry, etc., we are coping with disappointment, hurt, loss, and unexpected outcomes. We want to control these influences on us, but we are not always able. Sometimes we can change our perceptions of life experiences to find better ways to cope or rebound from negative emotion. We can learn to recognize what is in our ability to control and what is not. The Serenity Prayer, by theologian Reinhold Neibuhr, shows us a way to ask God (or other universal force or higher power in your belief system) for help when we feel that life is out of our control. Even if prayer is not your custom, the Serenity Prayer can serve as a reminder and guide for balancing emotion when you feel challenged:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
We can increase our experience of happiness by changing our perceptions of people and events that impact us. The emotions come from within us – our response – so we can guide them away from negative and toward positive. How can we create happy experiences for ourselves? Can we look for happiness in the blessings we already have? Can we find joy by bringing joy to others? Can we nurture happiness in ourselves by actively seeking happiness or putting ourselves in situations and places that will support us? Can we seek help when we are unable to pull ourselves out of negative emotional states? The Dalai Lama has said that the purpose of life is happiness, and that the key to happiness is in our own hands.
Next Post: Part 4: Fulfilling wishes and dreams