Ok. I admit it. I’m a “Doveaholic”. I do my best to limit my Dove Promise® intake to two dark chocolate and two milk chocolate candies a day. I really do pretty well. Today, I am half way to my limit. I also usually read the “promise” inside. I’ve read most of them a thousand times, so when I find a new one, I take note.
Today’s promise reads, “Happiness is in the heart, not in the circumstances.” I had to stop and digest that for … oh … about two seconds. Many of Dove’s promises are ok. Some are absurd. Others are just plain wrong. This one has the ring of truth. Let’s examine it. (I’m reverting to my theological training for this analysis.)
“Happiness.” www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/happiness defines happiness as “a state of well-being and contentment.” Happiness is more than an emotion. Happiness is a lingering condition encompassing the emotions, the physical, and the spiritual – the complete “man”. Happiness is not something that can be conjured up on the spur of the moment; it is something that is cultivated, nurtured, and developed over time. Truly happy people have something that transcends current circumstances.
“Is.” The verb “is” indicates that something exists. It is called a “be” verb and is often talked about in an infinitive form, “to be”. If something exists, it has form, value, and substance. In short, if something “is”, it is here … now.
“In the heart.” I think we all know this is not talking about the physical, beating, muscle that pumps blood through our bodies. Thanks to Hallmark, we think of the heart as a seat of emotion. However, if we stop to think about it, the “heart” encompasses the entirety of our being minus the physical. If we say, “I love you with all my heart,” we are saying, “I love you with all my being, with everything I am.” At least that is what we are supposed to be saying. Unfortunately, the word “love” in English isn’t always referring to “true love” but “physical passion.” In the case of this Dove promise, it refers to the “everything I am” type of condition.
“Not.” A word of opposition. If something IS something, it stands to reason that something exists that it is NOT. My car is a Buick, not a Ford. My house is a ranch, not a colonial. My wife is beautiful, not ugly. Get the point? If happiness is in the heart, then there is somewhere where it is not.
“In the circumstances.” Happiness is not is day-to-day events. If the Razorbacks win, I can be happy even though this happiness is fleeting. They may and probably will loose next week. If I win the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes, I can be happy. That happiness may die when every Tom, Dick, and Harry comes forward claiming to be a “long lost relative” and demands a share. Wealth can bring more heartache than true happiness. Indeed, happiness transforms circumstances from negatives into positives.
I have a friend, though we have never met, who writes a blog called “I Choose Joy”. Rebecca has faced trials that no young mother should have to face. She lost her husband to cancer a little over a year ago. If her happiness was in the circumstances surrounding her, she would be miserable. If her happiness was in her husband, her happiness would be dead. Instead, her happiness is in her heart, and she is happy in spite of the circumstances.
Many of us are facing serious trials: deaths, illness, financial loss, miserable circumstances. Each of us has the opportunity to make a decision, like Rebecca. We can choose to allow the circumstances of our life to dictate the condition of our heart, or we can choose to let happiness reign in our heart and overcome the circumstances no matter how dire.
The choice is ours to make. As for me, my happiness is in my heart. Let the circumstances become stair steps to victory.