One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my life, especially lately, is that no one is responsible for my happiness but me. Sure, other people can “rain on your parade,” but it’s 100% up to you how you react to it. If you let it steal your joy, it will. Conversely, if you put your mind to work on thinking of things that bring you joy, peace, and happiness, your spirit rises to such levels that another person’s negativity cannot begin to touch it.
Even in the most dire circumstances, people have managed to find joy and happiness. How? They chose to.
We’ve all heard or read stories of the POW who emerged from captivity mentally intact because they chose to concentrate on the positivity of their desired future rather than the extreme negativity of their current situation. We know people who always carry a sunny disposition even on the “rainiest” of days. The fact of the matter is, almost all of the time, whether we’re happy or miserable is completely and totally up to each of us. No one else can make you happy. That, my dear friend, is up to you.
I have always loved to read self-help books, including the greatest self-help book of all time: the Bible. All of the really great ones readily mention this truth, but most people get it entirely wrong.
THE MYTH OF “FAKE IT ‘TIL YOU MAKE IT.”
When I was a teenager, my neighbor, Paul, introduced me to a company called Amway. Through Amway, and our association with other distributors and leaders, I became acquainted with the world of self-help books and tapes. I discovered that I thoroughly enjoyed the genre of literature. It fit me like a comfortable glove.
One of the teachings I would often read or hear went something like this, “Your subconscious mind doesn’t know if your’re happy or miserable. It will believe whatever you tell it. Just speak happy words and, soon you will be happy.”
The teaching is close, but not exactly correct, at least not in the way that most people were using it.
You see, your subconscious mind does pick up on the words you say, but it also picks up on the conscious thoughts and feelings you emit.
Back in my teenage years, and in the years since, I would meet people who were practicing “fake it ’til you make it.” If I asked them how they were doing, they would quickly thrust out their hand to shake mine and say, “I’m Great!” Their words were positive, but the look on the face and the energy they projected often screamed negativity and woe. As we conversed, their positivity would eventually wane and they would start talking about their divorce, the job they lost, the car that was repossessed, their health scare or some other negative thoughts or feelings. That was their reality. That was where their happiness level was. All of the positive platitudes in the world would never change that.
YOU CAN’T TRICK YOURSELF.
You can use positive words and phrases and possibly trick the entire world, but the one person you can never trick is yourself. After all, you know you too well for that.
No, you can’t convince your subconscious mind to believe something when you conscious mind is practically screaming, “It’s a lie!”
To effect true change in your outlook and your attitude, you have to actually choose to be happy.
YOU CAN CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY. HERE’S HOW.
As a man thinking in his heart, so is he…”
The quote above is from Proverbs 23:7. It’s often used by the “fake it ’til you make it crowd,” but they’re not giving the entire story.
It’s true, you really can be who you feel you are, deep down in your heart of hearts. No, I’m not talking about your current self-image or the way you think others see you. I’m talking about the ideal you that you carry with you deep inside.
If you truly see yourself as miserable, you will be miserable. If you see yourself as a perpetual failure, that is the goal your life will run toward. If you see yourself as happy and joyous, that is what you will be. The choice is yours.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you cannot, you’re right” – Henry Ford
In order to truly be happy, you need to truly be happy. Wow! That was catchy and deep, wasn’t it?
Here’s what I mean. You have to concentrate on things that make you happy. Don’t give power to the thoughts of things you lack. Only give the power of your mental and emotional energy to those things which bring you joy.
When Cindy first passed away, my thoughts and feeling were set totally on lack. It’s understandable. I couldn’t get my thoughts and feelings out of that well of despair. I missed Cindy and I wanted her back more than anything in this world. As a result, my life was not happy. I mean, it really was unhappy. I honestly wanted to die.
Feeling that way for a while is certainly understandable, but it is not a way of life. Looking back on it now, for me, thoughts of lack, was always a way of life. Even when I tried to be positive, thoughts of lack would bring me right back down. If the car broke down or I was late for work, or an unexpected bill came in, I was angry and dejected. The reason for that is that my positivity wasn’t genuine and it wasn’t grounded in reality.
Now, I spend time every day concentrating on the true key to happiness: GRATITUDE.
GRATITUDE IS THE KEY TO HAPPINESS
Every morning when I wake up, I look around my room and think, “I really love my house and my neighborhood.”
When I drive to work (and I used to hate to drive), I think, “I really enjoy the solitude of driving and I’m grateful to have a comfortable car.”
I’m grateful for my job. It’s a good job working with wonderful people and it takes care of my material needs.
I’m grateful for my family. I’m grateful for my friends.
When I have pain in my joints, it makes me grateful for medical science and the advances that have been made in the treatment of pain. I also appreciate those pain-free days more.
When my electric bill comes in, I’m grateful to the people who toil and work so hard to let me life in in air conditioned comfort and have access to electricity with the flick of a switch.
When I think of Cindy, I’m grateful for the nearly thirty years we had together and for the belief that we will someday be together for all eternity.
No matter how little you may have, or what circumstances you may find yourself in, you have something to be grateful for. Exercise gratitude and you will find happiness.
You must change your perspective in order to change your attitude. You can’t live in negativity and expect positivity. It just doesn’t work like that.
THE AMAZING REVELATION
It amazes me how long I’ve known this basic truth, but still never put it into practice until now. It wasn’t until I was faced with the worst event I could ever imagine, that I decided to finally take control of my emotional life and be the person I truly believe I was born to be.
Some people say that everyone is born to achieve greatness. That may be so, but I believe that the overwhelming number of people never will because they will continue to let outside forces control their emotions and their feelings. They will never grow and flourish because they will always keep a negative opinion of themselves and their self-perceived limited potential. That’s sad.
At the end of the day, it comes down to this, you can be happy if you choose to and if you concentrate on things that elicit that response. Once you put gratitude into play, your spirits will be lifted beyond the reach of negative circumstance. This is not a one-time thing, it’s a continuous habit that we all must build.
Just imagine how much better the world would be if we all lived in a world full of positivity where everyone practiced an “attitude of gratitude.” It would be amazing.