An Open Mind for Peace

At the heart of happiness lies peace. It is the last and the highest attainment of the soul, according to  Hugh Black (1868-1953), Scottish-American theologian and author of the classic book, Happiness. 

You may wonder what makes a book a classic. My answer: it is in the eye of the beholder — what is classic to one individual, is not even close to classic to another. But happiness is a classic mood. And peace is a classic, although often elusive, topic.

Here is a deeper dive into Black’s Happiness:

  • “The 18th century was inclined to make a gospel of what it called the rights of [woman and] man and assumed that nature endowed [women and] men with certain abstract rights…but it is more accurate to say that nature endows [woman and] man with desires and capacities. Rights are the creation of society, of law.”
  • “In our deepest thinking we usually underestimate the place and value of joy in life.”

We need “our deepest thinking” to handle a plethora of issues in today’s world. We need to consider peoples’ rights in our laws. And we need to hold a space for happiness, joy and peace.

Here is one open-minded-happiness approach: “Happiness is not the absence of problems. It’s the ability to deal with them.” Steve Maraboli is the author of this twist on classic happiness definitions. He is a military veteran and philanthropist who has worked with 40 countries in empowerment programs. He elaborates on defining happiness as a choice; we simply cannot allow ourselves to be defined by our problems. We have happiness capacity!

Another happiness mentor is a British potter who believes that happiness is embedded within one’s awareness of an inner self identity. Observing that the source of lasting peace and happiness comes from within each person, spiritual teacher and philosopher Rupert Spira began reading the poetry of Rumi when he was a teenager. Later, Rupert opened his possibility passport by abandoning a scientific career after visiting a mind-changing pottery exhibition in London. Spira now creates pottery that holds poems incised in clay. Some embedded poetry is his, while other poems are by British poet, Kathleen Raine (find her next week).

Spira carves his pottery philosophy as messages of awareness. Some bowls can be “read,” while others cannot be deciphered. A white Deep Bowl has this incised awareness carved into clay; “…I know no lack and am thus happiness itself.” One in his black Open Bowl series contains these lines: “I am peaceful like the sky. I am open like the sea.”

We have serious divisions in our country as well as in the world. Countries banter and battle in dangerous military shows of force or in actual military maneuvers that kill people, along with children’s choices for happiness. When will peace be our perennial choice? Is war “classic” too?

Pearls of Peace (PoP) Quiz:

127. What choices for happiness do you make?

128. When are you aware of having an open mind about some topic?  

By Janis Johnston

Janis Clark Johnston, Ed.D., has a doctorate in counseling psychology from Boston University. She has worked with children, families, and groups (ages 3-83) with presenting issues of anxiety, depression, trauma, loss, and relationship concerns. She initially worked as a school psychologist in public schools and was awarded School Psychology Practitioner of the Year for Region 1 in Illinois for her innovative work. She was a supervising psychologist at a mental health center, an employee-assistance therapist and a trainer for agencies prior to having a family therapy private practice. Recipient of the 2011 Founder’s Award for her dedication to the parenting education of Parenthesis Family Center (now called New Moms), and the 2002 Community Spirit Award from Sarah’s Inn, a domestic violence shelter and education center, Johnston is an active participant in numerous volunteer activities supporting children and families in her community. A frequent presenter at national psychology and educational conferences, Johnston has published journal articles, book chapters, and two books -- It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent: Stories of Evolving Child and Parent Development (2013, hardback; 2019, paperback) and Midlife Maze: A Map to Recovery and Rediscovery after Loss (2017, hardback; 2019, paperback). In addition to augmenting and supporting personal growth in families, Johnston is a Master Gardener and loves nurturing growth in the plants in her yard.

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