“Feeling great” sounds like a simple concept and one that is easily attainable. While it is, indeed, simple, it’s unfortunately quite elusive for most people—and no wonder. Our world is often fraught with confusion and tension. Our workplaces and even our homes—our supposed safe haven— can be magnets for chaos. And there are our personal lives to contend with—our physical, emotional, and spiritual health has more influence over our ability to feel great than anything we experience on the outside. With so much going on, in and around us, the quest to feel great for any length of time can feel pretty hopeless. But it isn’t hopeless. It’s actually quite possible—and easier than you think.
The Desire to Be Happy
Every man, woman, and child of every race and nationality, no matter where they live on this planet, wants to feel great. Not just now and then, or during a particular season of life—they want to feel great all the time. So, what’s getting in the way?
First, let’s make sure we understand what “feeling great” means so we can start this journey on the same footing: “feeling great” is not attaining a sense of elation, accumulating wealth, or achieving status or position. It has absolutely nothing to do with acquisition—period. Admittedly, those things can bring happiness and even excitement, but only briefly. They simply can’t last—they weren’t meant to last. What they can do is fool you into thinking you actually need them, and when that good feeling wears off, they make you chase after them in an effort to turn that temporary happiness into a permanent state. But all that ends up happening is that you find yourself chasing shadows. On a deeper level, you know that you can’t possibly find fulfillment in the chase, but you do it anyway. Even the most knowledgeable person can find himself on the treadmill of futility, but because he tells himself that he is doing something to get ahead—he’s active—he keeps falling for the same lie: the very same one the world has been telling you and that you’ve probably been telling yourself. Yet you keep running and cheering yourself on until fatigue and disappointment set in. It didn’t last.
So, you have acquired more things—you even made it to the A-list party. Your kids are going to a great school, your spouse seems genuinely happy, you’ve mastered the most difficult yoga positions in your group, you’re very funny and popular. Even your family and coworkers think you’ve got it all figured out—that you’re “living the life.” But you are acutely aware that something’s missing—all these things should be making you feel happy and fulfilled, but nothing is panning out. There’s no real sustainable joy. You just don’t feel great.
You start thinking about when things began to change . . . where you might have missed the cues. How could all those good things you felt each time you attained something turn out to be so temporary—lost more easily than acquired? It’s because such things are often beyond our control, and what we cannot control often controls us.
No doubt you’ve heard hundreds of clichés like, “Money can’t buy you love.” Well, they are true. Money can’t bring you happiness or contentment either, nor can people, events, or situations. And they surely can’t guarantee a lifetime of feeling great.
We’ve all seen examples of incredible people with unsinkable spirits—someone who has come back from war without an arm or a leg, or someone who has survived a natural disaster but lost their home and everything in it—yet they look at you from inside the television, eager to share their experience: how lucky they feel to be alive, what their encounter taught them, and how they are using that knowledge to help others. How did they accomplish that? How did they over- come such insurmountable obstacles and find such peace and joy? Why is it that some people are devastated by life, while others press on and, even from a wheelchair or hospital bed, they actually feel great?
The late author and philosopher Walker Percy once said, “To live in the past and future is easy. To live in the present is like threading a needle.”
Maybe we need to learn how to thread a needle—to sew the experiences of our lives together into one big picture so that, once we stand back and observe it as a whole, the true beauty is revealed.
Together we’ll take a look at some of the elements of our lives that impact our ability to feel great. Let’s start sewing the pieces together until we have created the perfect picture of feeling great. It’s a simple process that takes a bit of work, but well worth the effort, and the benefits are nothing less than thrilling!