The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.
The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater. – The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
A material man lets himself be worried and harassed by little things but a spiritual man is always calm and serene under all circumstances. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 4, p. 154.
…the trials which beset our every step, all our sorrow, pain, shame and grief, are born in the world of matter; whereas the spiritual Kingdom never causes sadness. A man living with his thoughts in this Kingdom knows perpetual joy. The ills all flesh is heir to do not pass him by, but they only touch the surface of his life, the depths are calm and serene. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 111.
How can anyone stay happy through a crisis?
When we face emotional, material, existential or spiritual crises, we tend to lose our happiness, even if only temporarily. But why? Do we base our happiness, or our lack of it, on our outward material conditions? Or do we base it on something more lasting, more eternal?
The Baha’i teachings say that human happiness comes from a much deeper and more permanent place than mere material satisfaction:
…human happiness is founded upon spiritual behaviour. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 127.
If a man become touched with the divine spark, even though he be an outcast and oppressed, he will be happy and his happiness cannot die. – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 57.
The divine messengers come to bring joy to this earth, for this is the planet of tribulation and torment and the mission of the great masters is to turn men away from these anxieties and to infuse life with infinite joy. – Ibid., pp. 69-70.
God has given man a heart and the heart must have some attachment. We have proved that nothing is completely worthy of our heart’s devotion save reality, for all else is destined to perish. Therefore the heart is never at rest and never finds real joy and happiness until it attaches itself to the eternal. How foolish the bird that builds its nest in a tree that may perish when it could build its nest in an ever-verdant garden of paradise. – Ibid., pp. 136-137.
Until all nations and peoples become united by the bonds of the Holy Spirit in this real fraternity, until national and international prejudices are effaced in the reality of this spiritual brotherhood, true progress, prosperity and lasting happiness will not be attained by man. – Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 85.
The most recent World Happiness Report comes to a very interesting and very parallel conclusion:
…a crisis imposed on a weak institutional structure can actually further damage the quality of the supporting social fabric if the crisis triggers blame and strife rather than co-operation and repair.
On the other hand, economic crises and natural disasters can, if the underlying institutions are of sufficient quality, lead to improvements rather than damage to the social fabric. These improvements not only ensure better responses to the crisis, but also have substantial additional happiness returns, since people place real value to feeling that they belong to a caring and effective community. – The World Happiness Report 2016
When a crisis happens in our individual lives or in the world, in other words, our unified, spiritual response to the crisis can actually increase happiness:
However, until material achievements, physical accomplishments and human virtues are reinforced by spiritual perfections, luminous qualities and characteristics of mercy, no fruit or result shall issue therefrom, nor will the happiness of the world of humanity, which is the ultimate aim, be attained. For although, on the one hand, material achievements and the development of the physical world produce prosperity, which exquisitely manifests its intended aims, on the other hand dangers, severe calamities and violent afflictions are imminent.
Consequently, when thou lookest at the orderly pattern of kingdoms, cities and villages, with the attractiveness of their adornments, the freshness of their natural resources, the refinement of their appliances, the ease of their means of travel, the extent of knowledge available about the world of nature, the great inventions, the colossal enterprises, the noble discoveries and scientific researches, thou wouldst conclude that civilization conduceth to the happiness and the progress of the human world. Yet shouldst thou turn thine eye to the discovery of destructive and infernal machines, to the development of forces of demolition and the invention of fiery implements, which uproot the tree of life, it would become evident and manifest unto thee that civilization is conjoined with barbarism. Progress and barbarism go hand in hand, unless material civilization be confirmed by Divine Guidance, by the revelations of the All-Merciful and by godly virtues, and be reinforced by spiritual conduct, by the ideals of the Kingdom and by the outpourings of the Realm of Might. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 283-284.