The pursuit of happiness is written into the United States Declaration of Independence, but for how many people is that pursuit ever successful? Or does it remain a pursuit of something that always eludes you?
Happiness has been a lifelong pursuit for Gary Douglas, founder of Access Consciousness and best selling author. The difference between Douglas and most of the rest of us is that happiness is not something he pursues, it is something he has.
Happiness has been a target for him since he was a child. He recalls being asked what he wanted to be when he grew up.
“Happy!” he invariably said.
“No, no!” the adult questioning him would say. “I mean, what do you want to be – a doctor, a lawyer, an Indian chief?”
“yeah – any of them, as long as I’m happy!” Douglas would insist.
At 68, he considers his quest successful, and happiness for him is a state he continually lives in. As he defines happiness, it is living your life for what brings you joy and never having a point of view about what other people choose.
While many spiritual leaders profess to have a formula like “Do this and you’ll be happy,” Douglas sees things differently. In his point of view, happiness is just a choice. It’s up to you to choose to be happy and joyful and laugh whether anyone else approves of it or not.
Happiness is actually our natural state. Being stiff, withdrawn, and unhappy is a learned behavior. When you’re a little kid, you can laugh and it’s okay. When you get to be an older person, you have to be more staid. Adulthood is a serious thing for most people and does not include more than momentary joy or true happiness. If you are too happy people ask what drug you are on! Ever notice?
Even when he’s going through an uncomfortable period in his life, Douglas finds it possible to be happy. “I know when I’m uncomfortable, things are changing.” On the other side of those changes is greater comfort and greater possibilities for more happiness.
Being happy requires being willing to be different than most people. “What are your friends going to support?” asks Douglas’s business partner, Dr. Dain Heer. “Your ‘friends’ are going to support your misery because that’s what’s real to them.”
The very enthusiasm with which our friends hang onto their unhappiness can be seductive in a perverse kind of way, notes Dr. Heer.
“Don’t you know that happiness is such an aspect of your being that when you see people choose unhappiness you assume it must have some validity if it’s worth going so strongly against what you know to be true of you as a being?”
Not only is happiness a choice, but happiness brings us everything we’ve asked for. “You’re not going to get what you’ve asked for by being significant, or sad, or having a fixed point of view, or seeing the wrongness of you,” says Douglas. Money, sex, relationships and everything else you’ve been asking for follows happiness – not the other way around. Be happy first, and the rest shows up without effort. Happiness is the party everything and everyone would like to go to.
As long as you’re willing to be happy, you can get everything you ask for. Being willing to choose happiness will give you the opportunity to choose from a bigger menu of reality than anybody else in the world has. Everything you ask for you’ll get, says Douglas.
Happiness affects others dramatically, Douglas observes. Happiness, he says, is true caring. Once you’re happy you’ll be able to be as caring as you really are. The choice to be happy affects not only the people around us, but also the earth itself. “If you want to heal the earth,” Douglas says, “Laugh!”
Laughing changes more than sadness and tears, observes Douglas. “Sadness and tears change nothing, laughter changes everything,” he notes. Sadness can’t see things from a different point of view. Laughter opens up the possibility of looking at things from a different point of view. With laughter, no longer are the things you made real, real – you can see they’re all a joke.
The more present and aware you are, the better your sense of humor will become, finds Douglas. What if a great sense of humor and laughter became a self-fulfilling prophecy in your life?
One of the challenges of being happy on planet earth is the intense unhappiness of everyone around us. At least 99% of your thoughts feelings and emotions – including unhappiness – that you think you are feeling actually are just feelings of other people that you are psychically picking up. If you find yourself feeling unhappy and you ask, “Who does it belong to?”, if you immediately feel lighter that is an indication that those feelings of unhappiness are not yours. Douglas recommends asking this question for every thought, feeling and emotion you have – when your head is empty of other peoples’ thoughts, there is a lot more room for happiness. Invite those thoughts you’ve adopted to return to their creator! If the unhappiness isn’t yours in the first place, can you do anything about it? The answer to that would be “no.” Every person has the choice to be happy – what will you choose today?
Douglas has many tools which can facilitate your ability to choose more happiness. Would you be willing to be inappropriately happy? Would you be willing to take yourself less seriously? What would it be like to allow yourself to be as happy as you would really like to be, even if no one else approves? Keep playing with these Access tools until you get the happiness you would truly like to have and be. What would it take to end the pursuit of happiness and actually achieve it in your daily life? The only person in the way of that occurring is you. Would you like to choose again? You can right now.