The Wizard of Oz, as both a book and movie, is a beloved classic. The film version is one of my all time favorite movies, stirring up many fond memories. For the purpose of this post, I am interested in the heart of the story. Its invaluable lesson of the simple reality of true happiness. As one learns by watching the movie, true happiness is within reach, as long as you look in the right place, within yourself.
The reason it is a classic or a master-piece is because it tells a tale of profound truth, and whether or not the audience is fully aware of that truth, the story will makes an impact or plants a seed. That is the power of story telling and storytellers. They have the ability to portray a truth in a way that reaches many. For some the story may be entertaining or others who make the connections to the story’s core, it’s a lesson about life. Either way it’s a win-win! (This is sort of an example of how the one room school-house works).
In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy seeks something better than the humdrum life in Kansas. She envisions that true happiness is just over the rainbow, as often people do think the grass is greener on the other side. Once in Oz however, she begins to realize home wasn’t so bad and the people of Oz don’t have it so good either. While the grass of Oz is literally greener than Dorothy’s world of black and white, the truth is Oz has its own faults and struggles, and Dorothy finds herself longing for what she already had.
Many fads and trends are the effect of society’s desire for happiness – think of – the new ways to lose weight (with fast results) or trendy items that come in and out of fashion for you to buy that will ‘bring’ you happiness. People want a quick fix – a miracle, if you will – just like Dorothy wanted life over the rainbow. People often wait for happiness to show up. They start pinning their happiness on external circumstances . ‘I’ll be happy when I have this or when this happens I will finally have all that I need’… The fact is, somewhere over the rainbow doesn’t exist, in terms of making you happy. There is no magic pill – nothing you can take nor any outside circumstance will suddenly gift you with the happiness, we all truly deserve.
The problem is, even if you do realize that true happiness is found within, the body measures deltas. Deltas make us gauge our experiences (or perception of an experience) based on the most recent past experience. As an example: Place your left hand in hot water and your right hand in cold water. After a moment, place both hands in a bowl of room temperature water. The left hand will measure that the room temp. water is cold, whereas the right hand will measure that the same water is warm. In reality, the water stays room temperature.
Another example of the delta effect can be seen in emotionally abusive relationships. The reason why people may stay in them so long is because they don’t realize how abusive they are. The abuse from period A to period Z may be extreme, but what the person is really experiencing is period A to B, whereas B becomes the new normal, then period B to C, where as C is now the new normal. This pattern repeats until the person is at Z and the abuse has gone unnoticed. By this time, the body is now conditioned to accept/tolerate this new level, because when comparing just the abuse of Z to Y, it really isn’t that much of a difference.
Dorothy changed her perception of how good home was only after experiencing the trauma of life in Oz. That is just another example of how the delta effect plays a role in our lives…
In the moments that you do achieve a level of happiness associated with an event or an external circumstance, your feelings of happiness are bound to change because of the delta effect. So you may be happy because you went from jobless to working, or you may be upset because you came back from vacation and have to go back to work. Your perception of the situation compared to what came before determines the level of happiness you achieve, not the total reality.
Perceptions are tied to the body’s delta effect and paired with your desires/expectations of what you want an outcome to be, it is no wonder the idiom, life is a roller coaster is so palpable. Even when you eliminate a huge stress in your life or lost the weight you desired to lose, it only opens the door to another stress or desire to surface to the top. And when that happens you are unhappy again…
The Tin Man, the Lion, and the Scarecrow all had preconceived ideas or expectations of what they thought/perceived having a heart, courage, and brains were. This expectation limited them from realizing they had those attributes all along. Dorothy realized there is no place like home and finally discovered through her journey and with the help of others, what happiness really is. Home or Happiness is always close by. Happiness is within reach because it is within you, just waiting for you to grasp at it…
Happiness is not reached by any external solution. It is an internal process that requires tools for maintenance. In the next post I will discuss some tools one may use to begin the journey to realizing their own happiness.
written by Jessica Howard, Abbess of the POTEGP Spiritual Guidance Center
edited by Emily Esten