Be Happy Under All Circumstances
We can never be happy unless we are progressing and seeking satisfaction in doing so, and unless we are guarding our happiness from all the influences which destroy it. Happiness comes, not by helplessly thinking, but by living it in all the moods and actions of life. No matter what you are doing, keep the undercurrent of happiness, the secret river of joy, flowing beneath the sands of various thoughts and the rocky soils of hard trials. Learn to be secretly happy within your heart in spite of all circumstances, and say to yourself, “Happiness is my greatest Divine birthright — the buried treasure of my Soul. I have found that at last I shall secretly be rich beyond the dream of Kings.”
Do not make unhappiness a chronic habit, for it is anything but pleasant to be unhappy, while it is blessedness for yourself and others when you are happy. When it is so easy to wear a silver smile, or to pour sweet happiness through your voice, why be grouchy and scatter unhappiness around you? It is never too late to learn.
Happiness grows by what it is fed on. Learn to be happy by being happy all the time. John said, “If I get money, I shall be happy.” He became wealthy; then he said, “I shall be happy if I get rid of my acute indigestion.” His indigestion was cured, but he thought, “If I get a wife, I shall be happy.” Then bedlam started, for he married a nagging, tongue-lashing woman. He divorced this wife, and after many years married again, but the second wife was worse than the first one. Then he thought that he would be happier if he divorced his second wife, so he did, but at the age of seventy he thought, “No, I shall never be happy unless I can be youthful again.” In this way people try but never reach their goal of happiness. They are like the man who raced in anger to bite his own nose, but never could, of course.
Overcome Happiness Destroyers
Ignorant people, like animals, do not heed the lessons which accompany pain and pleasure. Most people live a life checkered with sadness and sorrow, for they do not avoid the actions which lead to suffering and do not follow the ways which lead to happiness. Then there are people who are always consciously over-sensitive to sorrow and happiness when they come. Such people are usually extremely crushed by sorrow and are overwhelmed by joy, thus losing their mental balance. There are very few people who, after burning their fingers in the fire of ignorance, learn to avoid misery-making acts.
Many people wish to be happy, and yet they never make the effort to adopt the course of action which leads to happiness. Most people keep rolling down the hill of life only mentally wishing to climb the peak of happiness. They sometimes wake up if their enthusiasm for happiness survives the crash to the bottom of suffering. Most people lack imagination and never wake up until something terrible happens to arouse them from their nightmare of folly.
Stagnant people are unhappy, and extremely ignorant people scarcely know how it feels to be either happy or unhappy. They are unfeeling, like the stones. It is better to be unhappy about your own ignorance than to die happily with it. Wherever you are, remain awake and alive with your thought, perception, and intuition, ever ready, like a good photographer, to take pictures of exemplary conduct and to ignore bad behavior. Your highest happiness lies in your being ever ready in desiring to learn and in behaving properly.
People seeking happiness must avoid the influence of bad habits which lead to evil actions, for evil actions produce misery sooner or later. Misery corrodes the body, mind, and soul like a silently burning acid, and cannot be endured long. That is why it should be strictly avoided.
Replace Bad Habits with Opposite Good Habits
Cure yourself of evil habits by cauterizing them with the opposite good habits. If you have a bad habit of telling lies, and by so doing have lost many friends, start the opposite good habit of telling the truth. It takes time to form a good habit or a bad one. It is difficult for a bad person to be good and for a good person to be bad; yet, remember that once you become good, it will be natural and easy for you to be good; likewise, if you cultivate an evil habit, you will be compelled to be evil in spite of your desire, and you have to pray, “Father, my Spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak.” That is why it is worth-while to cultivate the habit of being happy.
The man sliding down evil paths finds no resistance; but as soon as he tries to oppose his evil habits by the adoption of spiritual laws of discipline, he finds countless temptations roused to fight and foil his noble efforts.
— November 1936