Practicing the Happiness Habit
In a world where there is so much uncertainty, I am learning that happiness is an acquired habit and life is just as wonderful as I dare to dream it. That’s about as good as it gets. This profound concept is woven through the “fantasy” world of Disney’s Magic Kingdom and is at the heart of the sacred literature, The Bible, that was taught to me as a child. How funny is it now that this great truth dawns on me as a fresh, new surprise. Here is how it occurs to me this morning.
If I have mastery of my thoughts (a work in progress I admit) then I can choose the ones I entertain. And if my thoughts produce emotions (which they do), then I can feel any way I choose as well. Now the opposite is also true. Emotions produce thoughts. It’s a loop. So if I’m experiencing sticky negative emotions I can, in increasing numbers of cases, look at the emotions as objectively as possible and literally decide to feel a more positively charged emotion instead. Jumping from deep sadness or disappointment is too big a step so this is where we can take baby steps to feeling better. Anger is higher on the emotional scale than grief. Forgiveness is higher still. After that it’s hope, love and joy.
It can be very challenging to practice happy emotions and thoughts on gloomy, dark days but if I persist and rehearse the best outcomes and not give in to fear and uncertainty then I must live a happy life. It makes no difference what the circumstances actually are or appear to be. Isn’t that so? The question then becomes, am I willing to do the work to experience more happiness and fulfillment?
I would take it a step further and say that whatever I imagine to be true and persist in thinking and feeling, must unfold in three dimensional reality sooner or later. Maybe not in the way I think but the essence of my happiness must manifest because thoughts are things. Practicing doubt and fear, whether intentional or as an affect of the subconscious mind, definitely produces uncertainty and a whole host of negative consequences. So how I think and feel is critical to my life experience. This is my new manta. I practice the habit of being happy in all things.
This is precisely the underlying message of the Cinderella story. It is one of the most beloved fairytales of all time. And fairytales, most of us understand in our hearts, are repositories of deep truths. It’s why they withstand the test of time. In fact, Cinderella’s transformation was said to be Walt Disney’s favorite animated scene. In an instant her dream becomes reality in the most improbable and unexpected way.
But also, in the words of Jesus of Nazareth in the Sermon on the Mount (taken from the New Testament, the book of Mathew, chapter 6 verses 25-26.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
And my mother’s favorite verse. Philippians, Chapter 4, verse 8.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.
Believe in the dreams of your purest heart. They were put there for a reason. Concentrate on love, kindness and the goodness that is all around us. To me this is what it means to practice the happiness habit. And if nothing else, it will add light to the world and help those around us remember the happiness and what’s possible in their own lives.
Do YOU believe in magic? It’s possible.
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