|HAPPINESS IS AN INSIDE JOB
I first heard this phrase about 30 years ago. Prior to that, it had never occurred to me that happiness was an outside job! About that time, I had also read one of Hans Selye’s books in which he stated that you should strive in live to find a job which is not work, but play. And, after working with over 30,000 depressed people, I began looking at people who attend various conferences. To my surprise, I learned that Freud the Fraud was correct about one theory – most people have a death wish! At least 40% of Americans are clinically depressed, and another 40% have what I call a subclinical depressive miasma. In other words, they are NOT happy!
Everything in life is relative. As Maslow emphasized, the basic essentials are water, food, clothing and shelter. Without these, life is such a struggle that happiness is hardly an issue. The issue is survival. Beyond these essentials and air, little is essential. Even without these one still has the choice of attitude. As Viktor Frankl emphasized in MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING, everything, including freedom, can be taken away, as it was in German concentration camps, except one’s attitude towards the situation. He wrote that even in such serious abuse situations, one has to accept that there must be a purpose. Even if you never learn the purpose, you have to assume there is meaning, as anything else is insanity!
Money, jewels, fame, unlimited sex, etc. are often available to great celebrities, movie stars, sports heroes, etc. But how many of them are happy? Watching one of the wealthy on ”You’re Fired”, I am repulsed by the vindictiveness and obvious lack of compassion that substitutes for entertainment. I actually once tuned in for five minutes and turned it off! A vast majority of movies today emphasize violence. I see nothing of artistic or redeeming value in such trash. I have known personally several of the super wealthy. I have yet to know a truly happy one, although I am sure some exist! In India on two occasions, I have been amazed that many of the poorest, wearing only something like a diaper, engaged in very hard menial work, appear to be happy. I spent many hours talking with them, attempting to understand the essence that leads them to happiness.
It seems to me that happiness is an attitude about life in general. It is a sense that I AM OK. Happiness is recognizing that your only real responsibility outside yourself is to do no harm to others. Then your responsibility to yourself is to do no harm to you. It may not be obvious, but science demonstrates that anger, guilt, anxiety and depression – and all their synonyms – are the major causes of virtually all illnesses, including accidents. You cannot afford the luxury of anger, guilt, anxiety and/or depression. Holding a grudge is like taking poison and expecting it to kill the other person.
There is, of course, a greater purpose in life than just surviving, without harming. That purpose is expressed best in THE URANTIA BOOK:
”Love is the desire to do good to others.”
That greater purpose is indeed love, the essence of spirituality. The single greatest human drive is to love others, nurture others, to help others, to do good to others. Nothing outside self is as gratifying as the joy that one receives in helping others. And, of course, there is also doing good to self! This does not mean being a narcissist. It does mean taking care of your body, mind and emotions – nurturing you. Common sense, the uncommon commodity, should be the guide in making choices. Treat yourself with compassion. Choose health enhancing food, exercise and thoughts. ”Every thought is a prayer. Thinking sets in motion spiritual forces to bring about change in body, mind, companions, environment, hope and despair.” Think happy. Happiness is indeed an inside job! And it should be JOYFUL PLAY!
C. Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D.