Food, Joy, and Happiness

At a dinner gathering a while back, one of our guests told me that my cooking made her feel so happy. As I spoke with her more about this, I came to realize that it had little to do with what I had made, or even about what she had eaten. What made her feel happy was the love she experienced sitting at our table. Sometimes we think food can make us happy. I will be the first one to tell you that a plate of sushi or sashimi will always bring a smile to my face. Digging the goodies out the ice cream is always a fun thing for me to do. When I was a child, I always loved twisting the cookies apart and licking the middle of the Oreo’s and sucking the cream out of the Twinkies. As an adult, there have been times when I tried to find that happiness in a myriad of “comfort foods,” only to realize 10-15 lbs. heavier they had brought me no permanent comfort or happiness.

I have come to realize that nothing or no one can make you happy. Probably more specifically, nothing can bring or disturb my joy. For me, joy is not connected to external circumstances. Happiness, or what I refer to as happenness, can be dependent on the external, but joy is internal and has nothing to do with happenness. Joy has nothing to do with others or the external. Happenness does.

Joy is the essence of who you are. When you can maintain your connection to the fountain of joy, which flows through you it is present. When you stay plugged into that joy that comes from being in tune with Spirit and your authentic self, then it does not matter what is happening externally; it does not matter what people say or do, nothing can steal your joy. It might affect your happenness, but it cannot affect your joy. Joy will be present regardless of whether you are dealing with sadness, disappointment, or confusion.

What I am eating can give me a moment of culinary satisfaction and a smile to my palette; however, it does nothing for my internal joy. The service I receive when we go out to eat or the quality of the food we ordered may affect my happenness momentarily, but it does not affect my joy. Eating a plate of my 7-cheese mac and cheese because I am stressed might make me feel good for a moment, but it does not affect that which caused me stress in the first place.

While for those who do not struggle with weight issues, this may not seem like a spiritual issue, those of us who do will tell you that happiness and joy with who you are at any point in time is a spiritual issue. It is recognition that the Infinite loves us just as we are. For the last month or so, I have taken a different approach to reshaping my life. I stopped dieting. I didn’t stress about exercising. I just focused on not eating food to alleviate any emotional or spiritual imbalance I was feeling. Buffalo wings were not going to energize me. Pizza was not going to grade the papers and posts in my inbox. Chilidogs were not going to pay the bills. Even typing that sounds funny. What I learned in my kitchen is that the joy, which lives within me, is not related to physical food, but the spiritual food, which nourishes me everyday. The moment of culinary happenness a food might bring me, is not permanent, nor is it a cure.

While I can enjoy a meal and the memories of it can bring a smile to my face, it is only the spiritual foods, which nourish and sustain me, which keep me happy and joyful in all circumstances.