Excerpt from the book Dare to Believe! (No longer in print)
Everyone wants to be happy. We know that the majority of people are eager to find happier ways of life.
Many persons are unhappy because they have not yet learned the art of living happily and joyously in spite of conditions and circumstances in their lives. But true happiness can be attained by anyone. Every one of us can learn to make joy a habit.
... It does not matter so much what our experiences are as how we react to them. This is what is definitely important to our wellbeing, to our health, happiness, and success.
What are your reactions to life? Have you analyzed them?
How do you react when something disturbing or unexpected happens?
Do trivial things bother you?
Are you in control of your emotions?
Do you dramatize the negative aspects of your experiences?
Many of us may hold to the thought that some persons are naturally happy and that other persons are naturally moody or despondent. This is not true. What, then, keeps us from being joyous individuals? It is our reactions to occurrences in our life that cause us to be happy or unhappy.
No matter what happens, let us “count it all joy.” Let us be joyous in every experience and pray to find the blessing in that experience. For the outgrowth of habitually dwelling on the idea of joy is happiness.
… When you are enshrouded in gloom, you can do something about it. If you have been depressed, unhappy, anxious, hurt, or disappointed, you do not need to wait for a certain turn of events in order to become joyous again. The change can come through a change in your thinking. Even in the midst of gloom, drop a thought of joy into your mind and you will begin at once to get a joyous reaction. Like the ripples that extend out and out when a stone is dropped into a pool, even one thought of joy reaches out and out into your entire life and starts a joyous reaction.
… When we touch the inner spring of joy, we feel the strength of it constantly sustaining us, no matter what may seem to go wrong in the external world.
True happiness is not dependent on conditions. It is not dependent on other persons or on things. It derives from our attitudes of mind. True happiness is an outgrowth of developing the habit of joy.
But often we think of happiness as dependent on only one word—when.
We may say: “When I get into a new home—” “when I can buy a new car—” “when I can take a vacation—” “when I get well again—” “when my husband stops drinking—” “when something happens—” “when something changes—” “when someone changes—then I shall be happy!”
A mother may say, ‘‘I’ll be happy when the children are in school.” Later on, she says, ‘‘I’ll be happy when the children are out of school.” Then when the children are grown and out of school she says, “I was so happy when the children were little and in school!”
We must cultivate and increase our ability to enjoy life today; then the very spirit of happiness will accompany us tomorrow. Our capacity to enjoy life increases as we use it.
All of us can learn to transcend conditions; we can learn to control our moods and our reactions to life; we can learn to make joy a habit. We can be the kind of person we want to be. The power lies within us. We may not have a great deal of understanding, but we can use what we do have. As we take even one idea of Truth and live with it and work with it, as we refresh our mind daily through prayer, we awaken our divine nature, and a transformation begins to take place within us.
Life is yours to enjoy. You can control your moods and your reactions to life. You can make joy a habit!