As I celebrate my 48th anniversary of being on this earth today, I wanted to share with you the most important piece of advice I’ve learned over that time. In fact, this advice is so critical that once I share it with you, you may want to unsubscribe from this email list because everything else will fail in comparison. Ready for it?
Okay here goes.
If you want to be happy then BE HAPPY!
It’s that simple. You, and only you, control your happiness. No one else does. Thus, because happiness is literally in your control if you want to be happy then do it. Be Happy!
It’s funny because my father wasn’t around much when I was growing up. So, I didn’t have many of those ‘typical’ experiences a boy has with his dad. However, I remember acutely him saying to me one time that “it’s okay to be sad.” His premise was that being sad was just a human emotion, no different than being happy.
For some reason, that has been ingrained in me for decades. But it wasn’t until I quit drinking in 1997 and started going to AA that I learned the corollary to “it’s okay to be sad.” That was when I shared with this pretty rough group in Phoenix a situation that was eating away at me.
After the meeting, a crusty old guy who definitely had lived a hard life, came up to me and asked me why I was letting this situation affect me so much. “Because it’s not right,” I told him. “It’s completely unjust and something needs to be done about it.”
Then he said something profound. “So, the way you’re going to deal with this is by letting it make you miserable? It’s beating you twice, the way I see it. Not only is an injustice being inflicted on you but you’re also allowing it to make you miserable.”
I responded in my most typical, chip on my shoulder way. “But how can you expect me not to be miserable. Until this is resolved I can’t possibly be happy.”
To which he said. “Do you want to be happy?”
And of course I said, “yes”.
And you can guess what he said in his reply… “If you want to be happy, be happy. Only YOU can control your emotions. So, it seems to me, you are actually WANTING to be miserable and that’s why you’re allowing this to make you miserable.”
BOOM! Like a ton of bricks crashing on my head. No PhD in Freudian psychology needed. Just some hardscrabble old guy who had lived a hard life telling me truth I’d never received before. And from that day on it’s been a different kind of struggle. Now, with the wisdom bestowed on me, I know what makes me happy, it’s me. I also know what makes me angry, sad, depressed etc… again it’s me.
However, going back to what my dad told me being sad isn’t a bad thing either. It’s just another human emotion. Allowing yourself to be sad when something is sad it’s not a bad thing. Same goes for getting angry. Shoot, Jesus even got angry at the money changers in the temple. If Jesus can get angry well certainly we can too.
But you can’t let anger or sadness make you miserable. You, and only you, are in control of that emotion. Young children sold into sex-trafficking. That SHOULD make you angry. Without question. Angry enough to do something about it even. But it shouldn’t make you miserable.
The one thing I want for my 4 kids as I am certain you also want for your loved ones is for them to be happy. I don’t care if they’re rich world travelers with fame and notoriety. Matters not to me.
But I do hope they find happiness. So, I tell them all the time, if they truly want to be happy, then be happy. It’s all within themselves.