[Although I routinely post Roy’s weekly memo here with a link to continue reading it at his website, this week you get the whole thing. -Dave]
By Roy H. Williams
The horizon is an imaginary line that recedes as you approach it. Happiness is like that for some people. Are you one of them? Do you think of happiness as being out there for you “someday, maybe, as soon as…?” As a young man, I decided not to buy into the myth that “happiness, like an ethereal butterfly, lights upon us momentarily, then flies away for reasons of its own.” I said, “If that’s how it is, then somebody get me a butterfly net ‘cause I’m kickin’ that butterfly’s ass.”
Now before you get offended and write me a snippy little email, consider the words of Jesus in the eleventh chapter of Matthew’s good news; “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it…” If Jesus was correct, then happiness is a choice that can be “forcefully laid hold of.” Later in that chapter, Jesus says, “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge and you did not mourn…‘” Evidently people two thousand years ago – just like people today – believed moods were the result of circumstances and environment. But unless you suffer from a chemical imbalance, I believe your mood is the result of where you’ve chosen to focus your attention.
You feel how you feel because you’ve chosen to feel that way. Sure, bad news may toss you into a pit of dark despair, but will you choose to climb out of that hole or stay in it?
Genealogically, I come from a long line of people who struggled with depression throughout their lives, so the pull of the dark is strong in me. That, plus an abundance of personal experience with depression, makes me something of an expert. So if you’re feeling down, kicked, unappreciated and blue, listen up, I’ve got good news for you: You don’t have to feel that way.
There are lots of things you could be blue about today and mountains of things you could be angry about. But, if you think really hard, there are also a few things you could be happy about.
Hmm… Blue. Angry. Happy. I choose happy.
Uh, oh. I can hear the thought going through your mind: “Talk is cheap. Just saying ‘I choose happy’ isn’t going to make me happy.” I agree. Like I said, our mood is the result of where we choose to focus our attention. Where have you chosen to focus yours?
Just ask yourself, “What can I be happy about today?” and then think on those things. Don’t worry that they’re not big things. The things I choose to be happy about are often, in themselves, utterly ridiculous. Driving to work I may think, “I’m happy that I own this truck. I like the color. White is a good color. And I like the short bed because it lets me turn around easily in tight places. And I like the cloth seats because the vinyl ones get hot in the summer. And I like the CD player because it lets me choose the music I want to hear any time I want to hear it. And I like the song that’s playing. Hey, I think I’ll sit in my white truck and listen to this song all the way through even though I’m sitting in the parking lot at the office. I can take two minutes to sit here until the end of this song because it’s my life and I can do what I want with it. I’m in charge.” Like anything new, this may be awkward at first, but if you push past the awkwardness you’ll find it will become second nature to you. So take your inspiration from wherever you find it, no matter how ridiculous.
Indeed, happiness will forever be a ridiculous choice in a world filled with suffering and pain. Are you forceful enough to lay hold of it? You can snatch the butterfly of happiness from the air as it flits teasingly past you. Or you can just watch it fly away.
It’s your choice.
Roy H. Williams
PS – Last week I became the Executive Producer of an all-new kind of instrumental music CD featuring the magical fingers of guitarist Paul Finley. If you’d care to give it a listen, visit the Music CDs section at WizardAcademyPress.com. Woo-hoo!