Positive and Negative States

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Positive and Negative States

Have you ever wondered why some days we can wake up feeling bright and able to cope with the day and other times, for no obvious external reasons, we can feel ‘down’ or even depressed?

External events can help create positive and negative states and behaviour in us but they are not the only cause. What makes two patients who have been admitted to hospital with kidney failure react in such different ways? One bewails his bad luck and finds fault with everything and everyone whereas the other is thankful that it is not more serious and that he has such a caring family who will support him in the future.

Our outer mind tends to be focussed on the world around us because our physical senses dominate. So it is natural to fall in with the idea that all there is to life is what we can see, hear and touch, and that we are separate from others. When we believe this and rely solely on our own abilities and ideas we can easily feel overwhelmed and vulnerable to negative states.

no man is an island

The reality is, however, that we are all interconnected at the spiritual level. If we are honest with ourselves we know that we need people and rely on others all the time.

 “No man is an island, entire of itself” (John Donne)

This network of interdependence and connectedness involves more people than we are aware of in this world. Emanuel Swedenborg said that all our thoughts and feelings flow into us through unseen spiritual companions. This may sound strange to you if you haven’t thought about it before but it explains how an idea can suddenly pop into our mind. So where is the real ‘me’ in all of this?

We have been given the freedom to choose which thoughts and feelings to identify with and make our own. We are in control of the tuning switch and can choose whether to tune into Radio Heaven or Radio Hell.

The choice is yours – choose to identify with your positive thoughts and feelings today!


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Happiness and fulfillment – a spiritual perspective

Are you satisfied with your life?

Or does life sometimes seem unfair? Everyone wants to be happy. But how do you find happiness and contentment?

Happiness and fulfillment – a spiritual perspective

What makes a person happy?

Is it different for each person? Obtaining some new material thing can bring at least some temporary joy; so too can accomplishing some strived-for milestone. Some people feel that having money and success in their job brings happiness. But does it last? We have merely to look at the countless rich people who feel something is still lacking to see that this isn’t the answer. And conversely, we can look at countless people struggling in third world countries who are at peace and happy in their lot. People want to feel that they are relevant; that they have a purpose. How do you do that? Can you find happiness?

New Church theology says that it is actually quite simple. The doctrine of use (or usefulness, or service) tells us that it is important to be useful, to be of service to others, and that this is the key to true happiness.

“The only source of anyone’s true happiness is doing something useful.” (True Christian Religion 735:5)

“[Heavenly joy] is the delight found in doing something useful for ourselves or for others.” (True Christian Religion 734:3)

“God created the universe so that usefulness could exist… Because we, the human race, are the principal reason for creation, it follows that absolutely everything else was created for our sake.” (True Christian Religion 67)

God creates each one of us to be an instrument of His love. When we live useful and productive lives for the sake of others, the love of God passes through us to them, and their lives are impacted for good. At the same time, we experience the happiness and delight that are associated with being of use.

This is not to say that riches or material things are bad in and of themselves, just that these are not what make a person happy over the long term; certainly not in life after death. Christ said:

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

So He tells us that the two most important things are to love God and love the neighbor. When we love the neighbor we want to be of service to others; we want to be useful. And when we are helping others, we are helping God and loving God (see the parable in Matthew 25:31-46, “I was hungry and you gave Me food…). Christ said these were the most important commandments because He knew that service and usefulness are what bring happiness, both in this life and the next!

Have you noticed that it is not at all unusual for elderly people to lose their zest for life, to become depressed? Certainly, there can be many reasons for this: infirmity and losing their friends or spouse can be key contributors. But a major reason is feeling the loss of usefulness; feeling that they have nothing left to give; feeling that they have lost relevance. This feeling of a loss of usefulness can also sometimes be seen after a person retires from their work, or has been injured.

It’s important to realize that service and usefulness come in many forms. Some forms of use require strenuous work, or lots of time, or lots of money. But service doesn’t necessarily mean going out of your way to do good. Just having a good attitude in your daily work, or being nice to someone, smiling at them, can mean more than you could imagine to those around you. For other people, usefulness outside their vocation brings them fulfillment. Everyone has gifts which they can volunteer to others. Listening compassionately to a person’s problems will mean so much to them. Look for ways to be of service to others. It may well be hard at first, but it can become a habit, and make a real difference in your life. Give it a try!

More passages about happiness

“Since the angels who are in heaven are in goodness from the Lord, they desire nothing more than to perform useful services. These bring delight to their life, and it is according to useful services that they enjoy bliss and happiness.” (Secrets of Heaven 6073:2)

“Loving the Lord and our neighbor is being of service.” (Heaven and Hell 112)

“All the happiness angels have is found in service, derives from service, and is proportional to service.” (Heaven and Hell 403)

“[The Lord] gives those who are performing useful functions a love for being useful, and also a reward for being useful, which is inner bliss; and this inner bliss is eternal happiness.” (True Christian Religion 736:3)

“We are born for no purpose but to be useful to the community we live in and to our neighbor as long as we are alive in the world, and to serve at the Lord’s good pleasure in the other world.” (Secrets of Heaven 1103:2)

“Life holds no joy unless it is active. Angelic life consists in usefulness and acts of neighborly kindness.” (Secrets of Heaven 454)