Savannah Hanson: Where’s the joy? |

Savannah Hanson: Where’s the joy?

Savannah Hanson

It's natural to try and recapture a feeling of great joy, but is that joy created through internal or external sources?
Photo courtesy Pixabay

Yesterday I had one of the most glorious days of my life. There was so much joy and laughter. Was it in spite of or perhaps because I have possibly never in my life been facing the appearance of so many challenges?

I guarantee you in the past I would have tried to duplicate the experience yesterday to recapture the joy. I would consciously or unconsciously analyze the situation to determine what were the crucial factors. Was it the company, the food, the new pants? I would chase whatever conclusion I came up with hoping to hold on to the joy. We actually counted how many stops we made — 12. One was something to enjoy together, two were to get something for the enjoyment of one of us, and the rest were simply errands. I think it is safe to conclude Trader Joe’s was not the source of the joy.

What is the one common denominator in every experience we have ever had? Truly consider this question. The only thing that is the same in all our experiences is that we are there. Yet if you are like I have been, you too will chase pleasure and joy as something external. Particularly as we face challenges we attempt to duplicate the things we think will make us happy. This makes it inevitable to miss the only cause of lasting happiness, the remembrance and certainty of who we are. Don’t take my word for it. Examine your own experience.

I woke up really considering this question. When my miracle buddy had a revelatory experience of Biblical proportions I was convinced I needed such an experience to wake me up to my true nature. Without that surely I would continue to flounder. I was so intent on watching for — even demanding — such an experience, I kept missing what was right before my very eyes. I did not truly celebrate all the quiet joys of shared laughter, a kiss on the cheek or a hug, the song of a morning bird, the waft of the first spring blossoms.

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I mention this not in a “stop and smell the roses” way but in asking us to each look a little deeper. The one common denominator is always that we are there in our own experience. What I woke up to this morning is what my mentor John Mark Stroud has been trying to point me to. The everyday joys were something that, despite all my efforts, I was mostly oblivious to until recently. I was too focused on how my sensitive nervous system was just too much for this chaotic planet.

So what shifted? Miraculously, this morning I am able to claim the mystery, the field, the love of God, whatever you choose to call it, more fully. I was able to see the joy is not random and not external.

All my life I have been a joy chaser. Was it the sugar, the new restaurant or new clothes, the new place to vacation? Surely this is the reason I felt so good. So we chase more of whatever we believe is the source of our happiness.

Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle has said that when we realize we do not need more. This is when we have made great progress in waking up from the dream of separation. We begin to know the only source of lasting delight is the remembering of our true identity. We begin to have the direct experience of how held we are by this force, how we can call on it in our greatest need, how it always answers. Sometimes the answers are not ones we like and we have trouble believing this illness, this loss, this broken relationship is here to serve us. Yet every time we attach to something external we are doing ourselves a disservice. It takes great awareness to see that anything not eternal that is grasped will lead to suffering eventually.

Oh how we fight that awareness and can curse the gods! So it was with great joy and a sigh of relief that I can face the challenges awaiting me this week without trying to grasp on to yesterday’s euphoria. All my great mentors and teachers have been pointing me in the same direction, pointing us in the same direction. The answer lies within. To attempt to capture anything else as our source will only lead to suffering. The only seeming problem of separation has been solved, it never happened. May we all come to have the direct experience of this truth.

For information on private sessions or classes or to schedule a free 20-minute consultation, contact Savannah Hanson, M.A., MFT #40422 at (530) 575-5052 or

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