Huh?... Feelings and happiness doesn't always go together???
by Benjamin O'Loughlin, LC | Source: www.FormationToolbox.com

Last week I was pinch hitting a confirmation class, and faced an unexpected question from a girl in the second row: “What if confirmation doesn’t make me feel happy?”

   The question was something of a curveball, because it was both right and wrong .Right, because we all want to be happy. Wrong, because feelings and happiness don’t always go together.

   Feelings are part of the circumstances that surround our actions. Along with our senses, feelings are involuntary reactions to the world around us. Senses give us merely physical input: hot, cold, light, dark… or even more complicated things like wolf-shaped fast-moving objects. Feelings go a step further: fear.

   Feelings are complicated because they key into both the outside world and our psyche. Sunny days cheer us up. Doubt and worry get us down.

   In and of themselves, feelings are generally good. We need to react to reality. However, the fact that they are involuntary reactions means we can’t control them. And they’re powerful: they don’t just affect our mind, but also our body, as anyone who has had the jitters knows.

   We can’t let feelings run our lives, because feelings aren’t enough—they’re the wrappings, not the core of what we do. Feelings aren’t the measure of our actions. They’re good as far as they go— it’s healthy and human to be saddened by failure, or to grieve death of a loved one. But many times their strength can blind us to the true reality of what we’re about to do (see last week’s post).

   Feelings are an around-the-clock part of ourlives. We can’t get away from them. We can’t control them. But with practice,we can learn to override them when they get out of hand. Willpower andreflection are the keys to hitting the ball out of the park, even when ouremotions are throwing us some wicked curveballs.

Benjamin O'Loughlin writes for www.formationtoolbox.com

This Catholic Formation Service is also available by e-mail.

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