The Annual Fast
I’m midway through the annual Fast for Baha’is — no food or drink from sunrise to sunset for 19 days, ending with our “new year” on the first day of spring.
Every year I learn something different from this experience, and this time I am thinking about the source of my energy in the absence of food or drink.
The rest of the year, when I need an energy boost I have lots to choose from. Sometimes even just a glass of water gives me what I need. What I now realize is that — without eating or drinking —my energy comes through my attitude. I am learning to be detached and content, allowing those qualities to be the key to what we might label “spiritual energy” or “happiness.”
What makes a person happy? Well, some people are happy when they are working; others when they are relaxing. Some are enriched through music and the arts; others through family gatherings. Some enjoy museums and galleries; others thrive best in nature. Some like to be surrounded by people; others seek solitude. The variations are endless.
At least one source of happiness that most of us share is being useful and having daily purpose. Even people not blessed with pleasant jobs can recognize within their job the opportunity to learn and grow, to strive for excellence, to earn the material means to support themselves. Of course there are many other ways we spend our days, but regardless of what we do, our thoughts can be infused with vigour and we can be energized by them.
Service to others brings happiness. The service might be on a large or a small scale, alone or with others, planned or spontaneous. I have found that the more unexpected the better, since it is such a delight and surprise to others.
Surely love is the universal source of happiness. Despite the word itself having been romanticized to the point of sounding trite or even corny, love warms our hearts and guides our highest deeds. Beyond love for family and friends, it extends to our planet itself and its creatures. As such it is both animating and motivating.
However and wherever each of us finds our own happiness, we are drawn to its source, much like a magnetic field. `Abdu'l-Bahá recognized this tendency in saying: “When a man has found the joy of life in one place, he returns to that same spot to find more joy. . . . This shows the internal force and natural instinct which God has given to man, and the power of vital energy which is born in him.”
We know that there is a connection between our minds and our bodies. When one of them feels droopy then so does the other. To a great extent though, since the mind rules the body, we can willfully overcome this. So I return to the idea of fueling ourselves through our attitude, with happiness as a source of energy.
I can’t buy happiness at the local grocery nor find it in a capsule at the pharmacy. But if I want to, I can create it for myself. And a daily dose is all that is required to energize me.
Submitted to Ayr News by Jaellayna Palmer, March 2018
© Jaellayna Palmer 2018