Happiness- We have the power to create it!
Don’t chase happiness… create it Be Happy…
Supposing you were told, be happy ‘Today is the last day of your life. Make a list of all the things that you feel you have accomplished, all the things that have made you feel truly happy; what are the things you would put down on that list, knowing that you have only hours left to live?’
I’m certain that your car, bungalow and bank account will find no place on the list. What you are sure to put on it would be the most fundamental elements of a truly happy life – your love for god, the love and respect you have earned from your near and dear ones, the sunshine you brought into people’s lives by your warmth and affection, the compassion you have received from your friends, the love and kindness you have shown to people. Happiness is in the little things that make life significant.
Many of us are apt to equate happiness and success with money, material wealth and possessions. The Wise Ones remark, ‘This is sheer ignorance’. You cannot be happy just because you live in a mansion or a penthouse apartment. We cannot achieve peace and inner harmony just because you drive a Mercedes or a BMW. Nothing can be considered ‘successful’ just because you are a millionaire.
Happiness is an inner quality! Don’t look for happiness… create it. It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “Most are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” And since happiness gives meaning and purpose to life, we must know where to find it. All the world’s greatest philosophers agree on this point: true happiness stems from within us, from a way of thinking about life. This is the most enduring, agreed upon truth about happiness: if the prints of contentment and satisfaction are not within, no material success, no pleasure or possession make us truly happy.
I recall the words of that wise man, G. H. Loruner. He worked for several years as the editor of the ‘Saturday Evening Post’, and on one occasion he wrote words which have clung to my memory. Loruner says, “It is good to have all the things which money can buy. But it is also good to pause for a while again and again and check whether we have lost all the things which money cannot buy”.
There are so many things which money cannot buy, and those are the things that contribute to true happiness. Money can buy for us the softest bed in the universe, but cannot buy for us sleep. Money can buy for us medicines, but cannot buy for us health. Money can buy for us the best cosmetics in the world, but cannot buy for us that natural rosy tint in the cheeks. Money can buy for us the best of foods, but cannot buy for us appetite. Money can buy for us flatterers who will follow us wherever we go, but cannot buy for us true friendship. Money can buy for us all the books that are available in the world, but cannot buy for us brains. Money can buy for us social prestige, but cannot buy for us a clear conscience.
The most fundamental elements of a truly happy life – your love for god, the love and respect you have earned from your near and dear ones, the sunshine you brought into people’s lives by your warmth and affection, the compassion you have received from your friends, the love and kindness you have shown to people. Happiness is in the little things that make life significant.
William Lyon Phelps was a distinguished writer and critic, as well as a popular Professor at Yale University. He had inspired and guided hundreds of students during his long and distinguished career. When he was asked to write a message of guidance and inspiration for the American people, he asserted: “The principle of happiness is like the principle of virtue: it should not be dependent on things, but be a part of your personality.”
When Professor Phelps had been a young student, he had drawn inspiration from the words of President Timothy Dwight who had visited his college and addressed the students. Dwight had told them emphatically: “The happiest person is the person who thinks the most interesting thoughts.”
This was what he taught his students too. Real happiness cannot come from external things, he told them. The only lasting happiness that you will experience is that which springs from your inner thoughts and emotions. Therefore, he urged them, cultivate your mind. For an empty mind seeks mere pleasure as a substitute for happiness. The happiest people are not the ones who make money, buy property and own stocks. The happiest people are those who cultivate their minds with interesting and invigorating thoughts.