Happiness eludes a lot of people. There are books written about it. There are pharmaceutical drugs intended to help people feel it more often. We invent and buy things that promise to make us feel just a little bit happier, every day.
Yet, none of these are an easy answer to how to be happy.
When I was a very young woman, just beginning to study personal development, the topic of happiness was something that fascinated me. I noticed that there were some people that were happy pretty much all the time, no matter the circumstances surrounding their lives. What was their secret?
I didn’t know it was possible to choose happiness.
And so it was around this time that I became exposed to the writings of one of the premier transformational teachers of the early 20th century—Emmet Fox. For many years, thousands of people would pour into Lincoln Center once a week to hear him speak.
One of Emmet’s famous lectures was “How to Be Unhappy.” It may seem a strange topic for a lecture, after all, who wants to be unhappy?
Interestingly, however, there were key lessons for all of us in his lecture if we paid attention, not on how to be unhappy but on how to be happy.
Here’s Emmet Fox’s prescription for unhappiness.
First, be sure to set aside twenty minutes a day. Find a comfortable and quiet place to sit where you’re not likely to be disturbed. Take a few deep breaths and begin to think about yourself.
Every time your mind wanders to something else — your kids, your work, your friend’s thoughtful gesture, the birds singing outside your window — all you need to do is gently and persistently bring your thoughts right back to yourself.
Think about the past and all the mistakes you’ve ever made.
Think of all the time you’ve wasted and all the opportunities you’ve missed.
Especially think about all the ways you’ve been treated badly, or all the injustices that have been brought upon you, or ways in which you’ve been a victim.
Imagine how much better off you’d be right now if people from your past had just treated you properly or the way you deserved!
Remind yourself of the unkind things people have done or said to you. Be sure to go over those incidents in excruciating detail.
And if a particular person has never actually offended you, tell yourself that he or she may have if they’d actually had the chance. They probably talked about you behind your back, in any case.
Now, think about your body and see if you can discover an ache or pain somewhere. (You probably can, if you search long enough).
Then, think about your business or finances. Even if things are going well now, it’s probably just a matter of time before things fall apart. Dwell on that.
If you can just think about yourself in this way for 15 or 20 minutes a day, there’s no doubt about the result.
You WILL be unhappy.
It’s something you can work on and improve upon every time you practice.
Therefore, if unhappiness is a habit that can be practiced and learned, happiness is also a habit that can be practiced and learned. It’s something you can learn, and it’s something you can make progress toward.
All you have to do is, instead of spending 20 minutes a day being self-centered and self-deprecating, spend 20 minutes a day doing the opposite — helping others and feeling gratitude. Think about those you can support and encourage, and what’s good in your life.
Before you know it, you will have an endless source of sustained, abundant happiness in your life, with just 20 minutes of thought exercises and practice every single day.
And that’s how to be happy.
And now, just one more thing…I have a gift for YOU!
- Generate an instant wave of gratitude for yourself and your life – even if it’s only the ability to walk through this day, to see the sky, or to see the smile on a stranger’s face. A grateful heart is a wealthy heart!
- Shift your focus away from what seems to be missing or wrong, so that you’re more easily able to direct your awareness toward what you would love to expand and experience more of in your life.
Begin to see golden opportunities that were here all along, but you simply weren’t able to see them from the frequency of fear, doubt, worry and criticism. Gratitude is an open door to a happier, to a healthier, and to a wealthier life!