Chapter 4: Happy
“People are as happy as they think they are.”
Abraham Lincoln himself said so.
It’s not what happens to our lives that determines our happiness,
but how we react to them.
Fred, having just lost his job,
might think he would now have the opportunity
to gain new experiences,
explore new possibilities and practice independence at work.
His brother, Bill, in a similar situation decided to jump off the stairs
and end it all.
The same thing that people rejoice, people commit suicide.
One sees it as a disaster
and the other sees it as an opportunity.
I may have oversimplified things a bit,
but the truth is that we all have a choice in how we react in life.
(And if we lose control,
that’s also a decision we make.
We might think,
“Things have gotten a little difficult for me.
I guess I’m going to lose my way for a bit.”)
Even so, not wanting to be happy.
It is one of the biggest challenges we face,
and we must be consistent, disciplined,
and determined to pursue.
Maturity is taking responsibility
for your own happiness
and being content with what you have rather than what you don’t have.
Obviously we control our happiness
because we decide our thoughts,
No one else thinks for us.
To be happy, there must be happy thoughts.
Yet we do the opposite.
We forget compliments very quickly
and remember unkind words for a long time.
If you allow bad comments
and bad things to stick around in your mind,
you will have to bear the brunt of it.
Always remember that you are in control of your mind.
Most people remember compliments for a few minutes,
and insults for years.
They became garbage collectors,
clutching the garbage that was thrown to them 20 years ago.
Mary might say “I remember he said I was fat and stupid in 1963!”
As for the compliments received only yesterday,
perhaps Mary forgot while remembering the garbage of 1963.
I remember once when I was 20 years old,
I woke up one morning and decided I couldn’t grieve anymore.
I said to myself, “if I can be truly happy one day,
why not start now?”
I’m sure I’ll be happier that day than ever.
I was flabbergasted.
Then I started asking other happy people why they were so happy.
Their answers accurately reflect my experience.
They said, “I feel miserable enough,
lonely and sick enough,
I’ve decided to change everything”.
There can be times
when it’s hard to keep yourself happy.
Like in a house,
you have to keep the treasure
and throw away the trash.
To do so, always look for the good.
One person sees a beautiful view
and another sees a dirty window.
You choose what to see and what to think.
“You have brushes and paints.
You paint your paradise and walk in,” Kazantzakis said.
Perfection and happiness
If you are unhappy,
it is because life is not what we want it to be.
Life doesn’t live up to our expectations
because it doesn’t “be” as we hoped and so we get bored.
So we say,
“I’d be happy if….” Oh, life is never perfect.
Life is joy and sorrow, gain and loss.
So as long as we say “I’ll be happy when…”,
we are deceiving ourselves.
Happiness is a decision,
Many people live life as if one day
they will reach their destination “happy”
just like we go to the bus station.
They assume that one day,
everything will be fine and they will take a deep breath
and sigh and say “So I’m finally…happy”.
Their life is a story “I’ll be happy when….”
Each of us has to decide for ourselves.
Are we willing to remind ourselves every day that
we only have so much time to enjoy all
we have or do we just ignore the present
and look forward to a better future?
The following is a passage written by an 85-year-old man
when he knew he did not have much longer to live.
Let’s see its related meaning.
“If I were to live again,
I would make more mistakes,
be more stupid.
Actually, I would take a few things lightly.
I would be crazier and less organized.
“I will go more, climb more mountains,
swim and visit more places.
I will eat more ice cream and less beans.
“I will experience more real-life troubles than just imagination!”
“You see. I’m a very sensitive person,
too sane and clean day in and day out.
No, I have my good moments too
and if I lived any longer,
I would enjoy them more.”
“I’m the kind of person who won’t go anywhere without a thermometer,
a hot water bottle,
a raincoat and an umbrella.
If I did it over,
I wouldn’t need so many things.
“If I could do it all over again,
I would start getting out of bed earlier in the winter
and stay up later in the fall.
I would have more fun,
sunrise, and play with children more,
if I could live my life again.”
“But you see, I can’t”
Isn’t this message a great reminder?
We are only present on this planet
for a limited amount of time.
Take advantage of this time.
Old people realize that they don’t have to change the whole world
to live happily and enjoy life more.
The world is good.
They just have to change themselves.
The world is not “perfect”.
Our level of happiness is the distance
between things being the way they are and the way we want it to happen.
If we don’t ask that everything be perfect,
living happily becomes simple.
We choose the better,
but if it doesn’t work,
we’re still happy.
An Indian missionary said to a student desperate for happiness:
“I tell you this secret.
If you want to be happy, be happy!”
Coping with boredom
Each of us has experienced extremely difficult times in life – loneliness,
At those times, we wonder how we can get over it.
But we still made it through.
Maybe we lose sight of the good future,
and often paint it darker than it really is.
We will look to a future with few problems
and wonder how people are able to overcome what they are facing.
A person who only makes one day’s journey,
why should he reserve for a lifetime.
It’s no wonder so many people worry about the next twenty years
and wonder why life is so hard.
We live 24 hours in a day, no more.
What’s the point of worrying about tomorrow’s troubles today?
Next time you’re bored, ask yourself questions like these:
Do I have enough air to breathe?
Is there enough food to eat?
(If the answer is “Yes”, then the situation is clear!)
We often fail to see that our most important needs are already met.
I love the story of the man who phoned Dr. Robert Schuller.
The dialogue is as follows:
The man said,
“That’s it! I’m done.
All the money is gone.
I’ve lost everything.”
Dr. Schuller asked: “Can you still see?”
The man replied: “Yes, I still have sight”
Schuller asked, “Can you still go?”
The man replied, “Yes, I can still walk.”
“Of course you can hear me,” Schuller said, ”
or else you wouldn’t have called me.”
“Yes, I can still hear it.”
“Then,” Schuller said.
“I suppose you’ve got everything. Only money is lost!”
Another thing we should remind ourselves of is this:
“The worst that will happen will be very unpleasant,
but that doesn’t mean the end of the world has come.”
The next question is:
“Am I taking things too seriously?”
Do you find that you lose sleep all week
because of something other people wouldn’t even think about?
It’s usually because we’re too strict with ourselves.
We think the whole world is watching us.
That’s not right.
What if they look?
We will live the best we can.
“What can I learn from this situation?”
With hindsight, looking back,
what can we learn during difficult times?
The hardest part is staying in balance
and knowing what we’re suffering and why.
The happiest people tend to view difficult times as learning experiences.
They try to be happy, smile.
They know that things will get better
and they will become better people from those experiments.
This is easy said but much more difficult to do!
One more question:
If things are really bad,
will I be okay in 5 minutes?
Once those 5 minutes have passed,
you aim for the next 5 minutes.
Break it down into small pieces,
it will be easier to handle.
Also keep yourself busy.
Do something in those 5 minutes.
When you are busy you feel much more comfortable.
What else do you do?
Perhaps the best way to feel good is to do something for someone.
Worrying too much or feeling sorry
for yourself will become an obsession.
The moment you start making others happy,
you feel more loved.
It’s simple, easy, and awesome.
Disasters won’t be big if we deal with them step by step.
And the more we find ourselves learning something from the situation,
the easier it is for us to overcome it.