So last night Stacie and I did that. There was a moment when there were thousands of lanterns in the sky and Stacie was holding hers, waiting for the hot air to lift. I had the camera and was laying on the gravel floor looking up at her. It was perfect. The lanterns behind her looked like stars but were brighter and Stacie was looking out with serenity and awe on her face. It was the look of peace and contentment with life. There is something so satisfying knowing that you were at least a small part of this kind of moment for someone you love so deeply. Especially since she has been through such confusing and heart wrenching things in the last few years. On my lantern, I wrote three things:
1. I love Stacie.
2. Don't give up.
3. Dreams do come true
I wanted to share this because in the last 6 years we have both been through divorce, mental illness, spiritual / faith crises, the death of someone close to us, major financial difficulty, and physical trials. Things are getting much better in our life and the more time passes the more we have been healing and recovering from these things. During the trials, you don't feel like you can do it. During the darkness, it seems like there is too much to handle. But if you just keep going, you do get through it and you can make moments of real happiness like this come to life. Life can be stressful, confusing, dark and painful. But I want to acknowledge the fact that sometimes things do work out, sometimes you marry your best friend, sometimes you hit all green lights, sometimes you see rainbows during the downpour, sometimes you find the perfect job, sometimes you sing with perfect pitch, and sometimes you have moments like this where you experience all ten positive emotions at once. These moments are SO worth working for. As a student of positive psychology, I study human happiness, and last night I got to live it.
When talking about happiness a lot of people refer to the "cup half full" analogy. I agree with this (it's called explanatory style in the world of positive psychology) and I also would like to add to it. In addition to the story we are telling ourselves about the fullness or emptiness of the cup, we can also experience things in life that increase the volume of the cup to be filled. After we get better at explaining our life to ourselves in a more positive way, we can also increase our potential to experience happiness. But it comes with a price: pain and suffering.
I feel uncomfortable recommending pain and suffering, but happiness just wouldn't be as powerful without it. It's like we all have a cup to fill with happiness and when we either stumble on happiness or work to make happiness happen, we fill the cup. Then when we go through the gauntlet of life, the volume of our cup just gets bigger. And our happiness cup is filled once again, but when the cup to be filled increases in volume, the happiness we experience is much more substantial, and our happiness has increased by the mere fact that our ability to receive it has doubled or tripled in volume.
I'm okay with my cup the way it is, but I don't think that's the way God wants me to stay. He doesn't just want to fill my cup, He wants to make my cup huge, and then fill it. Does God cause the suffering and pain? I don't think He causes it. Does He allow us to go through it? I think so. What do you think?