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Happiness Is a Choice and Is Already Within Us

from: Guest Writer - Dale R Duvall

When I tell people that I haven't been angry in years, I often get the "stink eye" so I have written the "Happiness is a Choice" to clear up some of the misunderstandings. I would like to note that "never being angry" does not mean that angry thoughts do not exist, because they do. They come and go the same as thoughts of gratitude, love and good ideas. A good idea will slip away as silently as it appeared if you don't write it down. Anger too, is only a thought and will float away even sooner if we make a point of replacing it. I try to stand back and observe my thoughts, choosing the ones I wish to spend time with and allowing the others to float away. It's fun.

There is no evil greater than anger and no virtue greater than patience. But patience takes practice, so we are grateful for every opportunity to practice. When someone harms, frustrates, annoys, rejects, or embarrasses us, we immediately imagine a big red smiling stop sign. We stop, smile, breathe, and say, "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you," as a sincere expression of gratitude for the opportunity to practice patience, kindness, and our right to choose the thoughts upon which to focus. We say thank you silently, or audibly if appropriate, at least once and preferably three times because anything one wants to remember or emphasize should be stated three times. A name, place, concept or idea presented in threes is inherently more interesting, significant, and memorable.

We recognize, neutralize, dismiss, and replace anger, fear, guilt, worry, sadness, shame, and other harmful thoughts with gratitude, patience, and kindness, knowing that something good will come of this. We are grateful that it was not worse and feel compassion for those who are worse off. We begin to understand the powerful connection between thought, feeling, and behavior. We discover that we can choose our feelings, and thus our behavior, by choosing to focus on more appropriate thoughts. Just as emotions trigger thoughts, thoughts trigger emotions. It is impossible to feel sad without spending time with sad thoughts, or angry without dwelling on angry thoughts, so we consciously replace harmful thoughts with gratitude or some other worthy thought to reverse the cycle.

We feel gratitude and compassion for our tormentors because they have been valuable teachers and are inflicted with the disease of anger, harming themselves most of all. We accept the situation for what it is and adapt to the present moment with patient positive thoughts, wisdom, and curiosity. We ask if the problem can be resolved, and look for opportunity. Then, with a calm, peaceful mind, we allow our own natural wisdom to determine the best course of action. We remain balanced and centered, happy and at peace, with a sincere intent to promote harmony and the understanding that everything is and was as it should be. It might be that way to provide us with the opportunity to make it better. Life is a fun adventure of curiosity and wonder.

Like a fertile garden, the subtle (or subconscious) mind will return, in abundance, whatever we plant. If we plant kindness, it will return kindness. If we plant hostility, it will return hostility. If we choose to plant corn in our garden, water it and care for it, it will return hundreds of corn kernels for every one that we plant. If we choose to plant nightshade, it will return poison in just as wonderful abundance. It is impersonal. It does not care what we plant. It will return an abundance of what we plant but it will not judge what we plant. Judgment is a function of ego and the conscious mind, not the subtle or subconscious mind. Things are always popping up from the subtle mind, some good and some not so good, and it is the job of the conscious mind to observe and weed the garden by identifying and discarding harmful thoughts while allowing worthy thoughts to grow and flourish.

We need to tend our wonderful garden and tell our subtle mind what we want it to do, such as plant good seeds, worthy goals, and ideals. Then nurture them, care for them, and observe what shows up. Pull out the weeds and let the seeds of our goals grow. We need to be diligent, or the weeds will take over and kill our seeds. We simply need to observe and choose our thoughts. Recognize, neutralize dismiss and replace harmful thoughts with worthy thoughts. Gratitude, patience, and kindness. Man's greatest disability is pessimism, and his greatest super power is the creative integration of gratitude, patience, and kindness.

We cannot always control events, but the thoughts we allow ourselves to think about a situation or event produce our feelings and moods. Our feelings and moods affect our actions and reactions which in turn affect the direction and quality of life. When we develop the ability to choose our thoughts, we will be able to control our feelings, actions, circumstances, and destiny. It has been said that destiny is no matter of chance, it is a matter of choice, and our thoughts are the driving force. Another wise man once said, "If you want to be happy and at peace, then be happy and at peace. If you want to feel good, then feel good. It's your choice. Simply choose the appropriate thoughts. If you think good thoughts, you will feel good. If you think bad thoughts, you will feel bad. If you think about nothing, you feel nothing. You are only one thought away from a good feeling. Ice Cream! The smile of a happy grateful child; Chocolate; a playful puppy or a white fluffy kitten playing with a ball of yarn; a beautiful flower, fragrance or melody."

Where one person sees a dirty window, another might see a beautiful landscape. Look beyond adversity and see the innocents. We choose what we see and what we feel by choosing our thoughts. One can be miserable in paradise, while others can be happy living in an igloo. The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but our thoughts about it which we do not necessarily have to believe. We have thoughts, but we should not let them have us. We need to be aware of the link between our thoughts, feelings, and behavior. We need to understand that we are not our thoughts or the emotions that they create, rather we are the observer and the controller with the ability to accept or dismiss our thoughts.

We can choose to be miserable, or we can choose to be happy. When harmful thoughts pop up, we Stop, Smile, Breathe, and say Thank you. We recognize anger, fear, guilt, worry, sadness, shame, and other harmful thoughts for what they are and neutralize them by understanding that they may have been appropriate at one time but NOT NOW. Then we replace those nasty thoughts with worthy thoughts: Gratitude, Patience, and Kindness. Worry, for example, is useless and seldom accomplishes anything. Worry replaces rational thought with irrational fears, and actually prevents us from resolving the situation that may have triggered the worry in the first place. Revenge belongs in the same trash bin as worry. Nothing positive has ever come out of a revengeful act.

Some people spend a lifetime searching for paradise and happiness, from beautiful beaches and mountain highlands to remote Pacific islands, and from the pampered life of affluence to abject poverty. If only they knew... it's already found!! It's here! It's all around us! Wherever we go, there it is. Paradise is where we make it. When faced with adversity we "Stop, Smile, Breathe and say Thank you." Confident that something good will come of the situation, we look for opportunity. As Helen Keller wrote, "When one door closes, another opens. But we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us." Recognize, Neutralize, Dismiss and Replace harmful thoughts, and nurture good thoughts. We choose what we see and what we feel... by choosing our thoughts.

Dale R. Duvall is a Certified Stress Management Consultant specializing in PTSD and Therapeutic Imagery, and is the author of "Imagine Harmony - How to Evolve from Stress to Gratitude." Visit for more articles.

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