A Simple Guide to Happiness part 3

posted in: BasicPhilosophy | 0

Define Your Reality

Don’t compare your happiness to others

(if that decreases your happiness.)

Why? Because sometimes they’re not really happy. The pictures in the magazines of celebrities spending loads of money and smiling or laughing are an illusion. They aren’t always smiling; often they are miserable, addicted to drugs, or going through their fourth divorce. Being wealthy and famous is a burden and a danger. You may need to protect yourself, like Caterine Zeta-Jones, from a crazy infatuated fan who wants to assassinate your spouse, or from a kidnapper who may ransom your children like Frank Sinatra and David Letterman.

There are people you met who may seem happy and really aren’t. I once went to a party and saw a friend who was acting the “life of the party’”. He was doing imitations, telling jokes, and he had everyone laughing. I was actually a little jealous of him at that moment. A few days later I complimented him on his “performace” and said, “Boy, Yitz, you were in rare form the other night.”

“Let me ask you, do you think I was happy then, and enjoying myself?”

“Yes,of course, “ I answered.

To which he responded, “Then you really don’t know me well. I was miserable.”

We can’t judge our own happiness by others because there are many illusions out there. We need to just look at ourselves and work on increasing our own happiness.

Learn From Others

Just as we can learn from the celebrities that wealth and fame DON’T guarantee happiness, similarly we can learn from people that are truly happy, a focus or attitude has been of true help to them. When you define your own reality, that doesn’t mean you don’t learn from others. We can, should, and must learn happiness tools and techniques from others. One common tool is that happy people often define their own reality.

The Boy Who Lost His Arm

A young man who was exceptionally happy walked into a school I spent some time at in Jerusalem. The teacher, upon noticing the young man’s cheerful personality, asked him what the source of his happiness was.

“When I was nine years old, God gave me the gift of happiness.” he said.

“What do you mean?” asked the teacher, his curiosity piqued.

“When I was nine, I was riding my bike when a truck ran me over and severed my arm. Later, in the hospital, my whole family sat crying and consumed with depression.

‘You’re going to have to get used to this,’ I said.

‘Us?! You’re the one who’s got to get used to it!’ they said.

‘No. I’m already used to it. I’m happy for what I’ve got.’

“You see, when I saw my arm separated from the rest of my body I got immediately depressed. Then I said to myself, this isn’t doing me any good. I decided right then that I am happy for what I’ve got.”

The boy in this story did not ignore reality. He did not change reality. All he did was define reality for himself.

Do Your Children Ever Call?

Imagine going into a retirement home, walking down the hall and randomly picking out someone to interview.

“Mrs. Bernstein, how are you?”

“Oy, you ask how I am? I’ll tell you, my children hardly ever visit, if I’m lucky once a month. Everyone around here is old. I don’t do anything for myself anymore. And you ask how I am?”

“I’m so sorry. I hope you have a nice day.”

“Mrs Goldberg, how are you?”

“That’s very kind of you to ask. Of course living in a retirement home is not ideal. But my children visit me every month. I have a lot in common with everyone here because we’re the same age and have had similar life experiences. And everything is taken care of for me so I don’t have to do anything for myself. So it’s not a bad life.”

The exact same circumstances can often be looked at negatively or positively. You are not always in control of your circumstances. But you are always in control of defining your reality.

Do Your Children Ever Call?

Imagine going into a retirement home, walking down the hall and randomly picking out someone to interview.

“Mrs. Bernstein, how are you?”

“Oy, you ask how I am? I’ll tell you, my children hardly ever visit, if I’m lucky once a month. Everyone around here is old. I don’t do anything for myself anymore. And you ask how I am?”

“I’m so sorry. I hope you have a nice day.”

“Mrs Goldberg, how are you?”

“That’s very kind of you to ask. Of course living in a retirement home is not ideal. But my children visit me every month. I have a lot in common with everyone here because we’re the same age and have had similar life experiences. And everything is taken care of for me so I don’t have to do anything for myself. So it’s not a bad life.”

The exact same circumstances can often be looked at negatively or positively. You are not always in control of your circumstances. But you are always in control of defining your reality.