When I was very young, I would list out the things I believed would make me happy. The first one I remember was a computer. My family didn’t have enough money for a computer, but I persisted in wishing for one year after year. Then it was a bicycle. As I got into middle school, my new belief was that popularity was the key to happiness. And on and on it went.
If only I had such-and-such, then I would be happy.
It took me a long time to realize that no matter what came into my life – no matter how valued by worldly standards – it didn’t make me happy.
This line from A Course in Miracles is a beautiful encapsulation of my experiences: “No substitute you made for Heaven can keep you from it.” (T-18.I.9)
All those “things” I thought would bring me happiness were nothing but shabby substitutes for the peace of Heaven. Real happiness, real joy, real peace lies within. And nothing of the world – and nothing from other people – can keep us from that experience of internal bliss.
Real joy lies simply in the recognition that all our substitutes are nothing but ego projections to keep us looking for peace where it will never be found.
So our practice exercise for today is to think about all the things we think will make us happy, and then remind ourselves that we can return to our right mind and see each of them through the liberating light of love.
Wishing you much peace!