Unhappiness is an inside job. But you’d hardly know it. We’re so used to blaming others for our state. “I don’t like my job—I work with a pitiful group of people.” “I hate this town. It’s full of lousy people.” Or “I stopped going to that church. It was full of nothing but hypocrites!” Like they say: “It’s hard to soar with eagles when you’re surrounded by turkeys.”
A man entered a village and went to the monastery on the edge of town, where he was welcomed by an old monk, the wise man of the village. The visitor said, “I am deciding whether I should move here or not. I’m wondering what kind of neighborhood this is. Can you tell me about the people here?”
The old monk said, “Tell me what kind of people lived where you came from.” The visitor said, “Oh, they were highway robbers, cheats and liars.” The monk said, “You know, those are exactly the same kinds of people who live here.” The visitor left the village and never came back.
Half an hour later, another man entered the village. He sought out the wise old man and said, “I’m thinking of moving here. Can you tell me what kind of people live here?” Again the monk said, “Tell me what kind of people lived where you came from.” The visitor said, “Oh, they were the kindest, gentlest, most compassionate, most loving people. I shall miss them terribly. The old monk said, “Those are exactly the kinds of people who live here, too.”
When we recognize the divine source of happiness within us, we can recognize and hail that same divine light in others–even those who have not found their innate joy and try, therefore, to drag others down to their sad level. The remarkable secret is, you don’t have to go there!
Isn’t it wondrous that our happiness isn’t dependent on anyone else? The light of Christ is within each of us. We carry it with us wherever we go, and it is able to sustain our joy in any situation, in any neighborhood, among any people.