Are You Happy When You're Happy?
You know when you're happy, and certainly no one has to tell you when you're sad. But what is it that makes a person happy?
Is Happiness Found in Things?
You might initially think of all kinds of experiences.
Music makes you happy, money makes you happy, winning makes you happy, ice cream makes you happy, or he or she makes you happy.
On the opposite side of the coin you may think that housework makes you unhappy, or that Aunt Mabel makes you sad, and so on.
It is important to realize, however, that what makes you happy might depress another person. There are people, because of guilt, a feeling they do not deserve what they have, or a feeling they will lose what they have that makes them unhappy when they should be happy.
Possessions are a poor measure of happiness.
A fourteen-foot motorboat will make some people ecstatic. The high point of their lives could be the attainment of that boat. But to someone who covets a thirty-foot yacht, that fourteen-foot runabout could be a source of disappointment and unhappiness. Those who don't care at all for boats would be neutral about the whole thing.
One person you present with a cute little puppy is delighted; another might be allergic to dogs and can't stand them.
Possessions are a poor measure of happiness.
Possessions are subjective and relative to the individual and the individual's viewpoint. Instead, we will use a philosophy as an example.
Adopting The Philosophy
This philosophy is about enjoying things you like, avoiding or changing things you do not like, and accepting what you cannot avoid or change by the skillful use of your viewpoint.
The use of this philosophy, as embodied in the five rules, will allow you to test many problem areas in your life and find solutions.
Five Rules of Happiness
Rule Number One: If You Like a Thing, Enjoy It.
Now that seems outrageously simple. At first you might say, "That's ridiculous, of course if I like something I'm going to enjoy it."
But when you stop to think about it you'll probably agree that there are many things in life that we like but don't enjoy.
The reasons we don't enjoy things we like are (a) guilt, and (b) fear. You will not enjoy something you like if you feel guilty after having done the thing, or if you are fearful of the consequences of doing it.
Rule Number Two: If You Don't Like a Thing, Avoid It.
The second rule seems simple enough, but reflect for a moment on how many people are involved with things they do not like - a job, a person, a vehicle, a type of food, any one of a thousand things - and for some reason they don't avoid those things.
How many justifications can you think of for not avoiding the things you do not like to do?
"Well, I can't avoid it. I have to work there because I need the money."
"I have to be involved with this person for many valid reasons."
Rule Number Three: If You Don't Like a Thing, and You Cannot Avoid It, Change It.
Here again, the answer is simple: change it.
But just as in avoidance we rationalize that we need something about it - the money, the time, the security - something is holding you to that particular thing if you don't like it, cannot avoid it, won't change it, but are still involved with it.
Rule Number Four: If You Don't Like a Thing, Cannot Avoid It, and Cannot or will Not Change It, Accept It.
Acceptance - now there is a catch. How can you accept something you don't like?
You may have a favorite aunt whom you love very much but whose upper plate drops on her lower plate with a clack every time she says a word with an s in it; and your name is Shirley.
You detest that, and yet you love the woman, so you cannot avoid her; and you've tried changing her by offering to buy her another set of dentures but she likes the one that she has for whatever reason and so you cannot change her either.
How in the world do you accept something like that?
How do you accept a situation that you're not happy with?
How do you accept a person that you're not happy with?
Well, you really don't have to accept anything; you can, of course, be unhappy. If you don't like it, won't change it, cannot avoid it, and will not accept it, I guarantee that you will be unhappy.
There are, however, five rules to the secret of happiness, and within the fifth lies the key.
Rule Number Five: You Accept a Thing By Changing Your Attitude Towards It.
You are the result of your viewpoints and attitudes. Everything is relative to the person experiencing it. There are no absolutes - nothing is good, nothing bad, except as it relates to you.
Nor is life good or bad. Life simply is. You change those things you wish by changing your viewpoint about them.
How to Achieve Happiness
When you change your viewpoint, when you switch attitudes, what you are actually doing is controlling your mind. It all begins with the mind's creation of images that we call imagination "image making".
Putting Rule Number 5 to Work
During a lunch break at my seminar, one of our participants, George Schultz, decided to drive to a nearby restaurant. He walked out to the parking lot and saw that his car had a fresh dent in the right front fender.
Somebody had backed into his automobile, dented the fender, and driven off. He didn't like it; he couldn't avoid it, it was there; and he couldn't change it.
That left him with the choice of being either happy or unhappy about the experience. George chose happy. He chose to change his viewpoint.
When he looked at the fender, he no longer saw a dent that would cost him lots of money and the time it would take to have it repaired but instead saw it as a stimulus to achieve something positive. Trying to imagine a positive outcome of the dent, he determined to earn triple the amount that it would cost to repair the fender.
The body shop quoted a price of $250 to fix the fender, and he set a goal for himself of earning $750. And he did.
George had totally polarized his relationship to the dented fender. He didn't like it, he couldn't avoid it, and he couldn't change it, but he could change his viewpoint.
"He stayed happy even though he had an experience that would cause most people anguish."
When he looked at the fender he saw $750. He set a goal for himself to earn the money and so he did. He earned his $750, paid the $250 repair bill, and actually came out $500 ahead and with happy thrown in for good measure.
He stayed happy even though he had an experience that would cause most people a time of some anguish.
Now it's Your Turn to Test the Five Rules of Happiness
After going to your meditative level and using these five rules, you'll find yourself being reacquainted with happiness.
You'll realize why people are unhappy.
Eventually it will become automatic, and you'll find happiness a predominant state of mind. Once you realize the ease of acquiring this emotion, you develop an entirely new scale of highs and lows. Unremitting happiness, of course, is not a possible or desirable state.
You'll always have highs and lows - there's no way to avoid that. However, your highs will be higher and your lows will be higher.
You'll then find that what is a happy state for you might be a state of depression for someone unaware of the Five Rules of Happiness.
Oh yes, Shirley, how did she accept the clacking dentures?
Shirley wanted a new television but didn't want to part with the money it cost. She told herself that she would go over to her Aunt's house and count how many times the upper plate fell onto the lower plate with that familiar clack that drove her up the wall.
If it fell 21 times, she would buy herself a new TV. Now it was a game, she went and actually looked forward to the clacking.
It was a long visit.
The teeth only clacked fourteen times but Shirley bought the TV anyway. Result was, she accepted the unacceptable by changing her attitude towards it.
Try applying the Five Rules of Happiness to different aspects of your life and feel free to share your experiences with me.
Find out how others - just like you - have used The Five Rules of Happiness and are living a happier and healthier life.