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What are we waiting for?

If we are not happy and joyous at this season, for what other season shall we wait and for what other time shall we look? (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 351)

Being happy is a decision, and it can be as simple as repeating this phrase.  It makes me happy just saying it out loud, with emphasis on the word WILL.

I WILL be a happy and joyful being.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i Prayers, p. 150)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá wants us to be happy; and not to dwell on the unpleasant things of life.  Again he tells us it’s a decision; a choice.  Repeat these out loud, again with emphasis on the word “WILL”, to remind you of how you want to face each day:

  • I WILL no longer be sorrowful and grieved
  • I WILL no longer be full of anxiety
  • I WILL no longer let trouble harass me.
  • I WILL not dwell on the unpleasant things of life.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i Prayers, p. 150)

Now, don’t you feel better already?

All we have to do is to wear a smiling happy face.  This too is a choice.

If the day be dark, how much a gleam of sunshine is prized; so let believers wear smiling happy faces, gleaming like sunshine in the darkness. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 124-125)

We know how to do this! How many times do we, in the middle of a disagreement, pick up the phone and greet our caller in a cheery voice, so that no trace of unpleasantness is reflected in our voices.  How many times do we go to feast and smile as if everything was fine.  We have a term for this – we call it our “feast face”.  This is not something to be disparaged.  It’s a goal to reach for!

Look at how ‘Abdu’l-Bahá treated Shoghi Effendi’s young cousin, who couldn’t wear a happy, pleasant expression on his face:

On one occasion two young boys, Shoghi Effendi and his first cousin, Ruhi Effendi, entered the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The Master looked at them thoughtfully and then remarked to Ruhi Effendi, ‘If you can’t wear a happy, pleasant expression on your face like Shoghi Effendi, then you are excused.’  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 48)

Surely we don’t want to be excused from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s presence!

‘Abdu’l-Bahá talks about his experience with making a choice to be happy:

I myself was in prison forty years—one year alone would have been impossible to bear —nobody survived that imprisonment more than a year! But, thank God, during all those forty years I was supremely happy! Every day, on waking, it was like hearing good tidings, and every night infinite joy was mine. Spirituality was my comfort, and turning to God was my greatest joy. If this had not been so, do you think it possible that I could have lived through those forty years in prison?  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 111-112)

If he can do it, we can certainly do it too!

‘Abdu’l-Bahá wants us to be happy as we see in this story:

Stanwood Cobb, the renowned educator, wrote, ‘This philosophy of joy was the keynote of all of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s teaching. “Are you happy?” was His frequent greeting to His visitors. “Be happy!” ‘Those who were unhappy (and who of us are not at times!) would weep at this. And ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would smile as if to say, “Yes, weep on. Beyond the tears is sunshine.” ‘And sometimes He would wipe away with His own hands the tears from their wet cheeks, and they would leave His presence transfigured.’  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 127)

Here’s a great example of someone who chose to be happy, even in the worst of circumstances:

‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells the story of one of the prisoner in ‘Akká, who had been with Bahá’u’lláh in the Most Great Prison. He said that he had a small rug, a samovar, one cup and a teapot. He said that every afternoon  he would sprinkle water somewhere and sweep and then spread this rug,  bring his samovar and let the water boil. He would say, “Listen to it.  How it boils. It’s better than anything, better than anything else in the world. The weather is most pleasant. (referring to the weather of  ‘Akká, which was the most stinking in the whole world).” Then he would pour tea for himself. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said that he held the cup, looked at its color and said that never was there any tea as beautiful. Every day his tea was better than the previous one. And he would drink it with all sorts of happiness and gratitude and praise to God for one cup of tea, which he had made. And he was full of prayer as he was drinking, full of praise, of joy and happiness, because it was something springing up from his own soul.  (From Hand of the Cause Mr. Faizi)

Still feeling apathetic and hopeless?  Let ‘Abdu’l-Bahá rouse you with these words:

Glad Tidings!
For everlasting life is here.
O ye that sleep, awake!
O ye heedless ones, learn wisdom!
O blind, receive your sight!
O deaf, hear!
O dumb, speak!
O dead, arise!
Be happy!
Be happy!
Be full of joy.  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 130)

For more in this series, please see:

Learning How to Be Happy 

Why aren’t we Happy? 

Reasons to be Happy

Keys to Happiness

How has this lifted your heart?  Post your comments here: