Flashes – How is your quest for JOY coming?

Bobblehead DollLong before I read Leo J. Muir’s book, “Flashes from the Eternal Semaphore,” I knew I wanted to find joy.  But, I was stuck; what is joy and how do I identify joy were my first two obstacles.  Yet, from many sources comes the following, in many different forms:

Man is that he might find joy.”

What is Joy?

An appeal to the dictionary confuses joy and happiness, forming part of the problem where understanding joy is concerned.  The closest definition for joy coming from the dictionary is to define joy as an ecstatic feeling, pleasure, or deep satisfaction.  But, if a person goes around chasing a euphoric feeling, they will be disappointed in pursuing joy.  If we consider joy as not an emotion but the result of an unexpected event that creates feelings of peace and contentment, then joy is more fully understood, but the quest for joy becomes more challenging to pursue.  How does one pursue an unexpected gift?

Christians, and some Jews, share a description of joy as a “good feeling in the soul, produced by a visit from the Holy Ghost (Spirit); thus, joy is felt as a consequence of a visit from another being.  However, unless you pursue education into those religions, you still might not fully grasp what joy is and why we seek joy so ardently.  One of the most straightforward descriptions for joy comes from the writings of Pope, an English author from the 16th century who wrote:

Reason’s whole pleasure, all the joys of sense, lie in the three words –health, peace, and competence.”

Hence the pursuit of joy is gaining health, peace, and competence.  So we can conclude that joy is found in possessing health, peace, and competence, as a consequence or good feeling stemming from achieving these three items.  Now, I know someone will get bent out of shape here; what if I have poor health, how can I pursue joy?  The answer lies in understanding peace and competence as co-equal parts of health.50+ Joy Quotes - a Perspective on Life | iCreateDaily | Quotes

Recently on YouTube, I watched an amputee discuss their amputation, health, peace, and display their competence.  One could argue that losing a foot is poor health, yet this person glows with good health for having joined health to peace and competence.  By the same token, I know several people who possess poor health, are depressed from not finding peace, and are not competent.  While working with mental health patients, I met a person in a wheelchair who cannot walk, can barely speak, and this person chooses to live on the street in misery.  This person has plenty of money for an apartment but chooses to live on the street eating from garbage cans in abject misery.  Thus, we can see the need for combining health, peace, and competence to obtain joy.  One might even define joy as a consequence of choices that build a life.  However, and this is critical, the feelings of joy are internal!

Imperative to understanding joy as a consequence is the need to grasp that joy is an internal feeling of ecstasy, delight, and wonder while dependent upon health, peace, and competence.  We cannot understate this importance nor overstate the criticality of joy to the combination of health, peace, and competence.  I have met very depressed people who possess competence but cannot find joy.  I have met people with great health and who are miserable.  Possessing one or two of these components does not disqualify you from obtaining joy or pursuing joy, but lacking all three will not produce joy in any quantity or with any staying power.  Joy is not an event in life but a collection of events from life, where “everything just clicked.”50+ Joy Quotes - a Perspective on Life | iCreateDaily | Quotes

Finally, it must be expressly noted joy is not an emotion; thus, joy cannot be chosen from a list of emotions to fit circumstances.  Since joy is not an emotion, this is where happy and joy are most often confused.  If an external event occurs, and health, peace, and competence are not present, happiness, not joy, is being felt or experienced.  If health, peace, and competence are present, and the feeling of joy swells inside, independent of all other factors, then joy is being experienced.

Case in point, in the US Navy, I served in a toxic working environment as a highly competent sailor.  I possessed health and, through inner strength, enjoyed peace inside myself.  Frequently, I would experience joy, even though external elements and environments appeared expressly designed to “make me miserable.”  By choosing to disallow an external event to choose my emotions, peace was mine, and joy was a consequence.Joy Quotes 3 | QuoteReel

Another English author from the 16th century was Edward Young, who concluded the following:

On the soft bed of luxury, most kingdoms have expired.”

What is happiness?

The definition of happiness is as convoluted as the definition of joy.  Consider the following: “Any state of being, having considerable permanence, in which pleasure predominates over pain.”  Yeah, that’s going to help a person understand!  Sarcasm aside, the definitions of happiness also include some interesting aspects for consideration: fortuitous aptness or fitness, grace, beauty, and felicitousness.  Happiness is also the quality or state of being happy, as if that actually helps.

Happy, the root word of happiness, is defined as cheerful, willing, possessing good luck or fortunate, a marked pleasure satisfaction, or showing the same.  What the dictionary skips, and the elements needed for understanding happy and happiness, is that being happy relies upon external factors and is a choice.  We choose to emote happy or happiness based upon external forces, societies, people, events, and environments.Spread Happiness Quotes. QuotesGram

Steven Aitchison is quoted as saying, “Happiness begins with the decision to no longer feel sad.”  Is it clear that happiness, like all emotions, is a choice?  The importance of choosing our emotions cannot be understated, and many of life’s biggest problems would disappear if we chose better emotional responses to external stimuli.  Aristotle provides the final word on happiness:

True happiness comes from gaining insight and growing into your best possible self.  Otherwise, all you’re having is immediate gratification pleasure, which is fleeting and doesn’t grow you as a person.”

What is the difference between Joy and Happiness?

Of a truth for certain, confusing Joy and Happiness leads to despair, misery, and failure.  Please keep the following clearly in mind; happiness is external.  Happiness is based on situations, events, people, places, things, and thoughts.  Happiness is connected to your hope.  Believe it or not, the following observation is not religious thinking, faith builds hope, hope builds charity, and charity is nothing but an outward action of an inner commitment (faith).  Happiness is faith and hope expressed for everyone to see.  Put the words in any order and use a thesaurus.  The result never varies; happiness is a consequence (resulting from) of faith and hope combined into action, and others might call that action charity.Quotes about happiness

If further questions arise about distinguishing between joy and happiness, please review the above definitions where I have attempted to clarify the delineation.  One essential factor in pursuing peace is time to reflect, which promotes peace and distills into competence.  Competence breeds from education (formal and informal) applied over time and understood through reflection.  Peace is stability, mental calm and derives from reflection and additional education (formal and informal).  Health can be physical, mental, and spiritual, but of these three, mental and spiritual are more important than physical health.  Again, when combined, independent of all external forces and environments, joy is the consequence, not happiness!

Please allow me to point out something truly obvious when a person wishes you joy, they generally also include happiness as an addition to their blessing.  For example, the Whitney Houston song whose lyrics claim:

I wish to you joy and happiness.  But above all this, I wish you love.”

Thus confirming that joy and happiness are two distinct and separate entities.  The US Constitution allows and encourages a person to pursue “Life, liberty, and happiness” as inalienable rights.”  Joy is not included!  Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying:

The US Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it.  You have to catch up with it yourself.”

The Quest for Joy

The quest for joy begins with education (formal and informal) as a building block for competence and to begin the process of finding peace.  While influenced by external factors (drugs, alcohol, disease, viruses, bacteria, etc.), health requires mental and spiritual inputs and is not content without peace.  Choosing to accept physical limitations is part of building mental and spiritual peace, and the human body cannot long survive without mental and spiritual health and peace, but the body can long endure physical health problems if mental and spiritual health remains.Meme Quotes » Happiness

Another truth becomes evident when questing for joy, “Joy dwells in the ordinary.”  Consider this for a moment; a person gives another person a flower.  Ordinary, simplistic, and yet this giving provides joy to the giver and receiver.  How swift and fleeting is the happiness of Christmas, where the gifts are generally more extravagant, costly, and luxurious, but a simple flower can spark a world of memories.

Why bees & biodiversity benefit from indigenous wildflowersMy granddaughter, a toddler at the time, and I took a walk.  She found a wildflower in the midst of thousands of other flowers on this walk which was important to her.  Upon our walk concluding, we pressed that flower into a book.  The time spent with her remains a cherished memory for me, and when I see wildflowers, the memories of this walk and flower pressing come back readily.  Truly, joy is found in the ordinary!

Elbert Hubbard reminds us that:

Ozone and friendship will be our stimulants – let the drugs, tobacco, and strong drink go forever.  Natural joy brings no headaches and no heartaches.”

Why; because natural joy combines health, peace, and competence into a powerful force.  No further stimulation is needed or wanted.  Bulwer Lytton provides the best flashing sign for contemplation:

We lose the peace of years when we hunt after the rapture of the moments.”

What will you sacrifice in the quest for joy, the peace of years, or the rapture of moments?  One of the most miserable people I have ever met chased rapture in the moments and could not understand why chasing momentous euphoria did not lead to anything other than the chase for more rapturous moments.  Like any drug, the mind and body build a resistance to the drug over time, and more and more of the drug is required to obtain a similar experience.  Be the drug sugar, chocolate, heroin, cocaine, tobacco, alcohol, etc., the pattern is the same, and the consequences are the same.  Depression, anxiety, addiction, destruction, call the consequences what you will, chasing the rapture of moments is death.

We conclude with the following from Robert Louis Stevenson, may his words ring out on our journey for joy as a beacon and a sounding board to base decisions upon:

He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauties, nor failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given the best he has; whose life is an inspiration; whose memory, a benediction.”

May your quest for joy be fruitful!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Dialectical Behavioral Theory – Decisional Balance Sheet – The Integrity Edition

Bobblehead DollAn email in my inbox started me thinking of Johari Windows first thing this morning, and in the process of proving myself wrong, I learned some interesting things and figured I would share my journey of discovery.  I am always fascinated when I prove myself wrong; I like it; mainly because it proves I am still human with a lot to learn!

Johari Windows

A Johari Window is a visual method for looking at data about self-knowledge and delineates information into four areas of interpersonal relationships:

        • The Open Area – represents what we both know about me and openly share.
        • The Hidden Area – is what I hide from you about myself.
        • The Blind Area is what you know about me, observe about me, and are aware of about me, but refuse to share with me.
        • The Unknown Area – is the part of me which neither of us knows about on a conscious level.Johari Window

Dialectical Behavior Theory

The Dialectical Behavior Theory (DBT) simply stated, is an evidenced-based process where a psychotherapist and a patient work to increase a patient’s emotional and cognitive regulation by learning about triggers leading to reaction and assessing and building coping skills to apply to events, thoughts, feelings, behaviors to avoid undesired reactions.  DBT is a precursor of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), which has shown significant effectiveness for PTSD-related problems and spectrum mood disorders.  A tool used frequently in CBT and DBT is a decisional balance sheet that looks like a table in an MS Word document.

Plusses/Pros Cons/Minuses
Self
Others/Family

A decisional balance sheet crops up a lot in various forms and under multiple names in psychology to represent data visually in a decisional tree, where the optimum location is in the lower right corner.

Low

High

Low

High

Imperative to understanding is that each decisional balance sheet, or decisional tree, can be read top to bottom or right to left.  The optimum location remains constant, regardless of the topic.  This is mentioned solely as a differentiation method between a Johari Window and a Decisional Balance Sheet.  A Johari Window can be any size but cannot be read top to bottom or right to left with an optimum location in any of the boxes.  That is how you tell the difference and my mistake from earlier this morning.

Integrity

Integrity is the practice of being honest and showing a consistent and uncompromising adherence to strong moral and ethical principles and values.  In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions.  Integrity is the choice to be the best you can be.

Integrity is holding ourselves to the same high standards that we have for others. Expecting little of everyone is apathy. Expecting less of ourselves than others sets us up for hypocrisy. Leniency is expecting less of others than ourselves, and it fails to create accountability. Integrity is the box where we should be at.” – Adam Grant

Integrity is not malleable, changeable, adjustable, wishy-washy, or like a suit coat that can be put on and taken off.  You either possess integrity, or you do not, and if you do not possess integrity, you are not worth my time and energy!Integrity

The current US President has no integrity, and America’s enemies knew this and desired this quality in the American president.  The Vice President, the majority and minority speakers in both houses of the Congress, and many of the governors and mayors in America all lack integrity.  As witnessed in the 2020 elections, a lack of integrity is being experienced in the judges, the county supervisors, the election boards, and many state legislators, and state election officials as well.  America is suffering from a dearth of integrity in public officials, and that is a significant problem!

Plato 2As a kid, I was told to role model John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Colonel Sherman Potter, and even Father Mulcahy.  I was told to despise those who weaseled on deals, liars, thieves, cheats, lawyers, and politicians.  These people were necessary evils, but I never believed in a necessary evil.  If you were evil, then you were not worth my time or support.  I maintain that position to this day, and it disgusts me to no end when I have been hoodwinked by politicians I thought had integrity who turned out to be wolves in sheep’s clothing.  Senator McCain, I am talking about you specifically, and I do not care that you are dead!

Millstone of Designed IncompetenceI guess it has been a couple of years now, I thought it had only been several weeks, but I had a conversation on the power of religion to improve integrity.  I have found just as many atheists as religionists with integrity and just as many religionists as atheists without integrity; thus, I can only conclude that religion is a tool for improving integrity, but individual choice trumps religious flavor and fervor.  Yet, religion does play a role in providing a moral background for building a solid foundation under a person with integrity.  Seeing as atheism is a religion, I have no problems calling on religionists of the world to unite to provide a moral background to improve integrity where they currently live, work, and reside.

However, in calling for an increase in integrity, I feel duty-bound to call out those without integrity for public display, ridicule, and scorn.  For example, I have found that the Queen of England has a lot of moral fiber and a high level of integrity, whereas her son is a flat-out creep who somehow missed integrity lessons and is choosing the life of depravity.  For all her faults, I felt Princess Diana had a lot of integrity, and her kids had some integrity, but they seem to be choosing the way of the snake, which is difficult to observe.

Plato 3President Biden is utterly bereft of integrity, his children are also utterly bereft of integrity, and Hunter is the worst of the bunch.  I do not wish to see how deplorable the grandchildren will be as they will be a millstone around America’s neck for a long time!  Vice President Kamala Harris and her spouse are two people utterly bereft of anything approaching integrity, moral uprightness, or even common decency.  They are joined by the Obama’s (including the children), the entire Clinton Machine, and the black hole of integrity has many others currently occupying seats in Washington DC for company.

Exclamation MarkSince we have so many examples of poor integrity, there must be examples of people with integrity.  Thankfully the answer is yes, and they are easy to spot.  Below are common ways to spot integrity, and I challenge you to look for and vocally support integrity where you find it.  One of the best ways to show integrity is to appreciate integrity in others.  Catch people doing good and vocally thank them.  Send thank you cards.  Send thank you emails.  Remember them after the incident.

        • Take responsibility for actions and consequences – Choosing to do the right thing is hard; accepting the consequences for failure, especially when it was not your fault is integrity in action. Allowing others to receive praise for accomplishments is integrity in action.
        • Put another person’s needs above your own. – This requires observation. Do the right!
        • Offer to help with action, not words. – As a disabled person, I do not want someone to offer to get a door, grab the bloody door! If I drop something, don’t offer to get it; bend down and grab it.  I will never criticize anyone for taking action.  Offers are good, but I always refuse offers to help, but I never refuse actions to help!
        • I will always give you the benefit of the doubt and start from the position that you are trying your best; please reciprocate.
        • Honesty is the only policy. Delivering honesty with kindness and forthrightness is socially the only way to move society forward.
        • Aretha Franklin was very clear, R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Learn it, live it, love it!  RESPECT is a two-directional street; you have to show it to get it.
        • Admit when you are wrong. It is called humility.  Humility is not weakness, but strength, learning, and growth.
        • People with integrity are reliable, they are on time (every time), and they work until the job is done.
        • Integrity includes kindness, even to a kid crying, dirty, stinky, smelly, and wet — a homeless person, a peer, a police officer, another driver, etc. Kindness is a choice!
        • Integrity is where we start each day anew as a lifestyle choice.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: School Thy Feelings

Calvin & Hobbes - Irony HurtsI know what you’re thinking, not another article on controlling emotions and feelings – well, yes.  However, I wanted to approach this subject from a different tack.  I discuss this topic so often because of the dearth witnessed in choosing proper emotional responses or not choosing an emotional response to the improvement of the environmental conditions in a situation.  Across the globe, we find daily, even hourly, instances where emotional diatribes are ruling common sense, destroying logic, and creating hordes of emotionally charged people hell-bent on destroying.  If I can help just one person understand this cycle of emotional abuse and then choose to correct their behavior, even if that person is only me, I consider these articles successful

Emtional Investment CycleToday’s title comes from Charles W. Penrose (n.d.), who penned the following poem, which has been set to music; the poem is based upon Proverbs 16:32, “One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and one whose temper is controlled than one who captures a city.”

School Thy Feelings

School thy feelings, O my brother,
Train thy warm, impulsive soul,
Do not its emotions smother,
But let wisdom’s voice control.
School thy feelings, there is power
In the cool, collected mind;
Passion shatters reason’s tower,
Makes the clearest vision blind.

School thy feelings; condemnation_
Never pass on friend or foe,
Tho’ the tide of accusation
Like a flood of truth may flow
Hear defense before deciding,
And a ray of light may gleam,
Showing thee what filth is hiding
Underneath the shallow stream.

Should affliction’s acrid vial
Burst o’er thy unsheltered head,
School thy feelings to the trial,
Half its bitterness hath fled
Art thou falsely, basely slandered?
Does the world begin to frown?
Gauge thy wrath by wisdom’s standard;
Keep thy rising anger down.

Rest thyself on this assurance:
Time’s a friend to innocense,
And the patient, calm endurance
Wins respect and aids defense.
Noblest minds have finest feelings,
Quiv’ring strings a breath can move,
And the Gospel’s sweet revealings,
Tune them with the key of love.

Hearts so sensitively molded,
Strongly fortified should be,
Train’d to firmness and enfolded
In a calm tranquility.
Wound not willfully another;
Conquer haste with reason’s might;
School thy feelings, sister, brother,
Train them in the path of right.

Knowledge Check!Consider with me these words for a moment.  Controlling emotion is hard, I understand completely.  However, how often do we try to control emotion?  I have been driving, stuck in restricted traffic, and becoming a raving lunatic through choice because of how someone else drove.  My feelings caused them no harm but embarrassed me.  I witnessed road rage, where a 30-car pileup at 45 mph was narrowly avoided.  These two gentlemen would speed up, get around the other, then brake check, hindering and hampering the smooth flow of traffic due to selfish emotional choices.

Besides traffic, where else do we frequently witness unchecked emotional interactions?  Politics, the news, sports arenas, the supermarket, but worst of all is social media, and especially in the emotional controls social media companies exert upon those wishing to use the service.  Consider LinkedIn, they have policies in place to police thought, and curb conversation between professionals, solely because another person complained.  Facebook banned President Trump, using false pretenses and sophistry when the reality is that the media giant always wanted to exert control and thwart free and open communication.Foghorn Leghorn - Medication

Speaking of President Trump, what about the behaviors excused under the banner, “Trump Derangement Syndrome?”  The behaviors of these adults, acting worse than a spoiled toddler, was beyond deplorable, detestable, and needed public shaming.  Instead, their behavior got excused, tolerated, and America is worse for having emotional behavior justified in this manner.

Semper GumbyAs a kid, if my parents did not like another child’s behavior, I was refused the opportunity to play with that child for fear the child’s emotional behaviors would rub off on me, and I would begin to act like a nincompoop!  Yet, as an adult, I can witness rampant emotionally charged conduct, and I have to tolerate nonsense due to helicopter parents, political choices, and the media; I think not!  I firmly support Robert Solomon’s claim that emotions are a choice, a judgment, and a social construct.  In supporting this line of reasoning, I affirm I am not perfect in choosing better emotions, choosing the proper emotion, or even judging social situations properly to emote at all.  However, now that I have been made aware, I am actively striving to emote less and know the why behind my emotions to empower better decision-making down the road.

There is a piece of golden advice given to commanders in the military, choose when to become angry as a method of commanding performance improvement.  I had a commander who understood this principle well and many an officer who had no clue.  I met non-commissioned officers who understood this principle well and others who had been promoted above their level of incompetence, who chose not to understand the value of controlling emotional outbursts.  I have worked with managers across America in a myriad of positions who could learn this lesson, and I have met some amazing people who know this lesson all too well and apply it perfectly.Plato 2

Consider well the words from Charles Penrose, and believe you can choose to emote or not to emote, when to emote, where, and how to emote, as tools for improving communication, performance in yourself and others, and in making better decisions.  Runaway emotions hinder, not help, performance.  Emotional hyperbole thwarts and hurts everyone, everything, and everywhere it is found.  How embarrassing to you is it when you witness emotional meltdowns?  Be it a toddler, teenager, or adult; the sight is truly embarrassing when emotions run away.

Image - Eagle & FlagThus, on this Memorial Weekend, let us firmly recommit to living life with more controlled emotions where we are choosing our emotional states more precisely.  Selecting our emotions more carefully and allowing the emotions of others to have less hold upon our minds and bodies.  As I continue to make strides in not allowing myself to be hooked into other people’s emotions, I do not lose anything, and the control gained improves how I feel mentally and physically.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.