To be happy is the privilege of everybody, and everybody may be happy at all times and under all circumstances through the knowing and living of a few simple principles. The reason why happiness is not as universal and as abundant as it might be is because the majority seek happiness for itself alone. Happiness is an effect. It comes from a definite cause. Therefore, if we would obtain happiness we must not seek happiness for itself, but seek that something that produces happiness. He who seeks happiness directly, who desires happiness for the sake of gaining happiness or who works directly for the attainment of happiness will find but little real joy in his life. To seek happiness is to fail to find it, but to seek the cause of happiness is to find it in an ever increasing measure. Happiness, however, is not the result of any one single cause. It is the result of many ideal states of being grouped together into one harmonious whole.
In brief, happiness is the result of true being perfectly lived upon all planes of consciousness. Happiness does not come from having much, but from being much; therefore, anything that will tend to bring forth into tangible expression more and more of the real being of man will add to his joy. To promote the larger and larger expression of the real being of man; in other words, to promote the living in the real of more and more of the ideal, a number of methods may be presented; but as happiness is based upon simplicity, methods for producing the cause of happiness must also be based upon simplicity, therefore only those principles that are purely fundamental need be employed. These principles however must not be applied singly. It is necessary to combine them all in practical everyday living, and when this is done, more and more happiness will invariably follow. The principles necessary to the perpetual increase of happiness are as follows:
1. Live the simple life.
The complex life is not only a burden to existence, but is invariably an obstacle to the highest attainments and welfare of man; and the majority, even among those whose tangible possessions are very insignificant, are living a complex life; but when the average person is told to remove complexity from his world and adopt simplicity he almost invariably destroys the beauty of life. The art of living a life that is both simple and beautiful is an art that few have mastered, though it is by no means difficult. Most of the life that is called simple is positively devoid of beauty and has nothing whatever that is attractive about it. In fact, it is positively a detriment both to happiness and advancement.
To live the simple life is not to return to primitive conditions nor to decide to be satisfied with nothing, or next to nothing. It is possible to live the simple life in the midst of all the luxuries that wealth can buy, because simplicity does not spring from the quantity of possession but from the arrangement of possession. The central idea in the living of a simple life is to eliminate non-essentials. The question should be, "Which of the things that are about me do I need to promote the greatest welfare of my life?" To answer this question will not be difficult, because almost anyone can determine at first thought what is needed and what is not needed to a complete life. When the decision is made, non-essentials should be removed as quickly as possible. True, we must avoid extremes, and whatever we do we must do nothing to decrease the beauty or the harmony of life.
There are a great many things in the world of the average person that he simply thinks he needs, though he knows that those things never did anything but retard his progress. It therefore necessary to remove non-essentials from the mind before we attempt to simplify our immediate surroundings. The simple life is a beautiful life, with all burdens removed, and it is only the unnecessary that is burdensome.
To live the simple life, surround yourself only with those things that are directly conducive to your welfare, but do not consider it necessary to limit the quantity of those things. Surround yourself with everything that is necessary to promote your welfare, no matter how much it may be, although do not place in your world a single thing that is not a direct power for good in your world. You thus establish the harmony of simplicity without placing any limitations whatever upon your possessions, your welfare or your highest need. You thus eliminate everything that may act as a burden; and we can readily understand that when all burdens are removed from life the happiness of life will be increased to a very great degree.
2. Live the serene life.
Be calm, peaceful, quiet and undisturbed in all things and at all times. Confusion and hurry waste energy, and it is a well known fact that depression and gloom are produced, in most instances, simply by the energy of the system running low. The serene life, if lived in poise, will keep the system brimful of energy at all tunes, and so long as you are filled through and through with life and energy you wilt be full of spirit and joy. Our saddest moments are usually the direct results of reactions from turbulent thinking and living; therefore, such moments will be eliminated completely when thinking and living are made peaceful and serene.
It is not necessary to live the strenuous life in order to accomplish a great deal, although on the other hand it is not quantity but quality that we seek. Our object should not be to do many things, but to do good things. If we can do many things that are good, very well, but we must have duality first in the mind; the quantity will increase as we grow in capacity, and there is nothing that promotes the increase of mental and physical capacity more than calm, serene living. The sweetest joys that the mind can feel usually come from those deep peaceful realizations of the soul when all is quiet and serene. Therefore, to cultivate the habit of living always in this beautiful calm will invariably add happiness to happiness every day of continued existence.
3. Be in love with the world.
He who loves much will be loved much in return, and there is nothing in the world that can give more joy and higher joy than an abundance of real love. The selfish love, that is only personal, and that must be gratified to be enjoyed, gives but a passing pleasure, the reaction of which is always pain. When we love with such a love we are always unhappy when not directly loved in return, and the purely selfish love never brings real love in return. When we love everybody with the pure love of the soul, that love that does not ask to be loved in return but loves because it is loved, we shall positively be loved in return; and not simply by a few here and there, but by great numbers.
To feel that you are loved unselfishly, that you are loved not because anything is expected in return, but because the love is there and must come to feel this love is a source of joy which cannot be measured, and this joy everybody can receive in abundance now. The simple secret is to love the whole world at all times and under every circumstance; love everybody with heart and soul and mean it, and everything that happens to you will add both to the pleasure of the mind and to the more lofty joys of the soul.
4. Be useful.
"Give to the world the best that you have and the best will come to you." Hold nothing back. If you have something that you can share with the world, let everybody have it today. Do all that you can for everybody, not because you expect reward, but because it is a part of your nature. Be all that you can be and do all that you can do. Never say, "I will do only as much as I am paid for." Such an attitude has kept many a person in poverty for life. Reward is an effect, not a cause.
Do not place the reward first, and the service second. Increase your service and the reward will increase in proportion; you will thus not only place yourself in a position where you can secure more and more of the good things of life, but you will live in that position where you are bringing into expression more and more of the good things that exist in your own life. And we must remember that the greatest joy does not come from gaining good things from the without, but from the expression of good things from the within; and when both of these are combined harmoniously we shall secure all the joys of life, the joys that come from the outer world and the joys that come from the beauty and the splendor of the inner world.
To combine these in your life, be useful; express your best; be your best; do your best. You thus bring forth riches from within and attract riches from without. Give richly of the best you have and good things in an ever increasing number will constantly flow into your life. That deep soul-satisfaction that comes to mind when we have rendered valuable service to man is entirely too good to be ignored; it is one of the deepest and highest joys that man can know. Those people who are the most valuable wherever they go are always the happiest, and we all can be of service in a thousand ways; therefore, we may add to our happiness in just as many ways, if we will always remember to be and do the best we can wherever we may go in the world.
5. Think and speak the beautiful only.
Every word or thought that you express will return to you. Never say anything to make others discouraged or unhappy; it will come back to yourself. He who gives unhappiness to others is giving unhappiness to himself. He who adds to the joys of others is perpetually adding to his own joy. You can say something good about everybody. Then say it. It will give joy to everybody concerned, yourself included. Think only of the beautiful side of everybody. Everybody has a beautiful side. Find it and think of that only. You will thus live in the world of the beautiful, and he who lives in the world of the beautiful is always happy.
Speak kindly and pleasantly to everybody; think kindly and pleasantly of everybody, and your days of gloom will be gone. When every word is animated with the spirit of kindness and joy, you will not only increase the power of joy in your own life, but you will be sowing the seeds of joy in the garden of the universal life; and one of these days you will reap abundantly from what you have sown. Let this sowing time be continuous and the harvest will be continuous; thus you will be reaping a harvest of boundless joy every day of your endless existence.
6. Forgive and forget everything that seems wrong.
We have spent many a weary day simply because we persisted in remembering something that was unpleasant. Forget the wrong and it will disturb you no more. Forgive others for what they have done and you will have no unpleasant memories to cloud the sky of your mental world. When people speak unkindly of you, never mind. Let them say what they, like, if they must. Nothing can harm you but your own wrong thinking and living. If people do not treat you right remember they would act differently if they knew better, and you know better than to become offended. So therefore forgive it all and resolve to be happy. Forgive everybody for what is not right and forget everything that is not conducive to the right. You have no time to brood over ills and troubles that exist only in your memory.
Your memory is created for a better purpose. Remember the good, the true and the beautiful; this is one of the greatest secrets of perpetual happiness. When you forgive those who have wronged you, you usually come to a place where you think more of those very persons than you ever did before, and when you come to that place you will realize a joy that is far too sweet and beautiful for pen to ever describe. It seems to be a blessing coming direct from heaven and it does not go away. This fact proves that he who learns to forgive rises in the scale of life. He who can forget and forgive the wrongs of the lowlands of undeveloped life, invariably ascends to the heights, and it is upon the heights that we find real happiness. Such is the reward of forgiveness. It will therefore not be difficult to forgive when we know that the results are so rich and so beautiful; indeed, to forgive and forget everything that seems wrong will thus become a coveted pleasure.
7. Be perfectly contented with the present.
We have heard a great deal about the value of divine discontent, but discontent is never divine any more than indignation is ever righteous. Perfect contentment is one of the highest states of the soul and is one of those attainments that invariably follows ideal living. Discontent, however, in any of its shapes or forms, always indicates that we are not on the true path. So long as there is discontent there is something wrong in our living, but the moment this wrong is righted perpetual contentment will be realized. If your present lot is not what you wish it to be, discontent will not make it better.
Be perfectly content with the present and create more lofty mansions for the future; thus you will not only improve your condition every year, but you will be supremely happy every day. The more perfect your present contentment the more power you will have to create for yourself a greater future, and the more mental light you will have to build wisely for days to come. The more contentment you realize in your mind the more brightness and strength there will be in your mind.
Find the good that you already possess, then enjoy it. Better things are even now on the way and through the harmony of contentment you will be prepared to receive them. You will also be in that higher state of mental discernment where you can know good things when you see them. Many people are so much disturbed by the discord of discontent that they are unable to recognize the good things already in their world; thus they add doubly to the cause of discontent.
Contentment, however, does not mean to be so satisfied with present conditions that we do not care to change them. True contentment not only appreciates the full value of the present, but also appreciates those greater powers in life that can perpetually add to the value of the present; therefore, the contented mind gains everything that life can give in the great eternal now, while at the same time perpetually increasing the richness, the worth and the beauty of the great eternal now. To be contented, find fault with nothing. Those things that are not quite right can be made better. Proceed to make them better, and one of the greatest joys of life comes directly from that action of life that is causing things to become better.
The process of growth and advancement is invariably conducive to joy; therefore, if we cease finding fault, and use all our time in promoting improvement, we will find sources of happiness in every imperfection that we may meet in life. In other words, when we aim to improve everything that we meet, we bring out all the good that is latent in our world, and to increase the expression of the good in our world is to increase our own measure of joy.
8. Seek the ideal.
Look for the ideal everywhere; live in ideal environments when possible; but if not possible in an external sense create for yourself an ideal environment in the internal sense. Live in ideal mental worlds no matter what external worlds may be. Associate as much as possible with ideal people, and if you are living an ideal life in your own mental and spiritual life, you will attract ideal people wherever you go.
And one of the greatest joys of life is to associate with those who are living in lofty realms. We have no time to give to the common and the ordinary. We want the best. We deserve the best, and we can secure the best by seeking the best and the best only. Live your own ideal life. Seek the ideal both in the within and in the without, and aim to make the ideal real in every thought, word and deed; you will thus cause every moment to add to your joy.
9. Develop the whole man.
To promote an orderly growth throughout your entire being is highly important, and to establish perfect harmony of action among all the various members of mind and body is indispensable to happiness. Develop everything in your nature and place all the elements in your being in perfect harmony. You will thus ascend perpetually to higher states of being and greater realms of joy.
Much of the discord and unhappiness that comes into life is the direct result of one-sidedness and undevelopment, and these can be permanently removed only through the orderly development of the whole man. Body, mind and soul must be perfectly balanced in every sense of that term. The more perfectly you are balanced the greater will be your joy, because a balanced nature is conducive to harmony, and harmony is conducive to happiness.
10. Open the mind to beautiful thoughts only.
The world is full of thoughts, all kinds of thoughts, but only those that are invited will come to you. There is nothing that affects life more than the thoughts we think; and the thoughts we are to think will depend almost entirely upon our mental attitude towards that which we meet in life. When we resolve to receive only beautiful thoughts from everything with which we come in contact the change for the better in life will be simply remarkable. All things will become new. We will actually enter a new heaven and a new earth, and the joys of existence will multiply many times.
11. Be in touch with the harmony of life.
The universe is full of music, and happy is the soul that can hear the symphonies of heaven; he can find no greater joy. Every soul that has been in tune with higher things is familiar with that deep pleasure that comes to mind when the sensations of sublime harmony sweetly thrill every fibre of being; and we can all so live that we can be in tune with the music of the spheres. When you learn how to place yourself in harmony with the music of life you may for hours at a time remain within the gates of everlasting joy, and you may enter into the very life of that sublime something which eye has not seen nor ear heard. It is then that you understand why the kingdom of heaven is within and why all souls that have found that inner life is radiant with joy. Here is happiness without measure, happiness that you may enjoy anywhere and at any time. No matter what your ,environments may be, enter into these lofty realms and you will be the happiest soul in the world.
12. Consecrate every moment to the higher life.
The mind that is ever ascending can never be sad. Perpetual ascension means perpetual joy. The happiest moments that come to you are those moments that come when you see yourself rising in the scale of sublime existence. You are then ascending to the heights. You are entering into the cosmic realms, those realms where joy is supreme; and one single moment in that lofty realm gives more happiness than we can imagine were a million heavens united in one. It is in these realms that we enter the secret places of the Most High, and to enter into that sublime state is to gain all the happiness that life can give and have that happiness while eternity shall continue to be.