You Can Be Happy No Matter What

by Richard Carlson, Ph.D.

The Principle of Thought
1. Your thoughts, not your circumstances, determine how you feel. Blaming our unhappiness on our circumstances makes us feel powerless over our lives. We need not constantly be in conflict with those around us. You may have no control over what another person does, but you can be immune to the negative effects of your thinking about that person. It isn’t the circumstances, but our interpretation of them that determines our level of well being. Because our thought systems are filled with our memories of the past (information we have accumulated throughout our lifetimes), they encourage us to continue to see things in the same way. If you understand the nature of thought systems, you can begin to see beyond them and sense the value in other points of view. What we did interpret as criticism we can see merely as an opinion from another person with his/her own thought system. We can virtually eliminate unprofitable arguments in our lives and eliminate feeling resentful, confused, or angry at others who don’t see things our way. When we understand the nature of thought systems, we will not expect others to see things our way.


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The Principle of Moods
1. You will always see life and the events in it differently in different moods. • • 2. 3. 4. When you are in a high mood, life looks good. In low moods, life looks unbearably serious and hard.

For some people mood shifts are slight. For others the shifts are extreme. In our lowest moods we will never see things in perspective. When you are in a low mood, learn to pass it off as simply that: an unavoidable human condition that will pass with time if you leave it alone and avoid giving it too much attention. If you learn to recognize other people’s moods, you will quit judging them when they are in a low mood. Most serious relationship problems turn out to be nothing more than two partners who have made a habit of taking each other’s low moods too seriously. Most partners don’t give each other the space they need in a low mood. When we see the truth in this principle, we won’t be searching for alternative partners to replace the ones we already have. Instead, we will realize that anyone we meet, anywhere in the world, is going to have a fair share of low moods. In our low moods we will want to solve our problems and confront other people. However, if you want to have a discussion about something that is bothering you, the time to do it is in a high mood.



If our internal experience of life isn’t pleasant. The result is increased understanding and softening on both sides. We can recognize and value our alternatives. stop habitual thinking. 4. The solution to this mental sabotage is to become aware and conscious of your mind spinning forward toward problems. many people spend their lifetimes proving to themselves and to others that their version of life is valid. and happiness is to learn to live your life in the present moment. the essence of compromise or collaboration. make the mental shift. 3. When you approach someone. 4. . you will be able to decide moment to moment what your experience of life will be. When we realize that everyone sees things differently. we can continue to maintain any belief or opinion we have.You Can Be Happy No Matter What 2 The Principle of Separate Realities 1. we are creating our own misery through our own thought system. deadlines. bringing out the best in ourselves and in others. not in an attempt to change their beliefs but with a genuine interest and respect for their view of life. defenses drop and hearts open. 2. and the person you are with will sense your respect for his/her position and your willingness to listen. Yet. The only way to experience genuine and lasting contentment. from a quiet and rested mind. 3. Listen without judgment. 2. The Principle of the Present Moment 1. The Principle of Feelings 1. As you become more proficient at living in the moment. When we feel good. Negative feelings will disappear quickly enough if we simply leave them alone. Remind yourself to guide your thoughts back to the present when they are too caught up in problems. and issues. or backward toward reliving old wounds or frustrations. 2. and return to a natural state of well-being. we are more equipped to solve any problem that may come up. Other people’s objections to them will not be such a source of hostility or pain. realistic. It is impossible for two human beings to see things exactly alike. satisfaction. Keeping your attention on the past (or the future) can become a habit that is difficult to break. Your thoughts can take you from a state of calm into a state of turmoil without any actual changes taking place. 3. and correct. Wisdom and common sense come from a more positive feeling state.

people make the mistake of taking negative behavior personally. When we feel stressed. The purpose of stress is to warn us when we are headed toward psychological danger. Any relationship begins with us. Stress 1. wisdom. 7. From the inside out. When we feel good about ourselves. we create the potential for stress. The rest will take care of itself. 2. co-workers. the more difficult it becomes to bring ourselves back to our natural state of mind. friends. 5. Don’t ignore them either. Lose sight of the big picture and often get lost in the details of our problems. friendly. When we learn to feel our stress as early as possible. we all want to be warm. 5. 2. 8. Whenever we blow up anything in our minds. compassionate people. Don’t try to give people advice when they are in a low mood. People respect and admire others who are understanding of their mental state (especially when they are down). we can nip it in the bud earlier and return more quickly to a more positive feeling state. When our own lives are full of contentment. we decide what is and is not going to be stressful. The more stress we feel. Our spouses. Just understand and have compassion. 6. .You Can Be Happy No Matter What 3 Relationships 1. Tend to take things too seriously. and others will say and do things in their low moods that they wouldn’t dream of saying or doing in their high moods. children. The key to eliminating stress from our lives is to understand that we manufacture stress. we: • • • 6. Lose our psychological bearings. Dwelling on stressful thoughts makes you less effective at communicating your needs to others as well. employees. Everyone you come into contact with is doing the best that he/she can do in life.” but rather something that develops from within our own thinking. the more important it is to drop the thoughts that are on our mind. 3. there is no need to be overly critical or defensive because we no longer feel threatened by others. and common sense. No one is receptive to information in a low state of mind. 4. Beneath our negative behavior.” It is important to know when we are in a low mood and when others are in a low mood. and they appreciate those who can maintain a sense of well-being when others have “lost their heads. 4. we have some left over for other people. Stress is not something that “happens to us. In poor relationships. 3. The longer we disregard stressful thoughts.

Your life will look drastically different depending on your level of well-being. 3. and approval seeking. 3. answers will occur to us in ways we never thought possible. Things that torment us in an upset state of mind don’t bother us at all in a higher. Habits and Addictions 1. When you don’t understand the dynamics of your own mind. Without serenity.You Can Be Happy No Matter What 4 Solving Problems 1. The vehicle to take you there. You can never find happiness by searching because happiness is not found outside yourself. 2. The ingredients needed to break any habit are: • • • Happiness: Resolve: Understanding: The breeding ground that points to your goal. you attempt to get your positive feeling back through outside sources. Happiness requires no effort at all. 4. The inner commitment that points to your goal. When you attach conditions to your happiness. food. 2. our problems will begin to fade away. eliminating bad habits is both possible and enjoyable. Problems are generated more by the way we feel than by our circumstances. 3. cigarettes. Some substitutes for a contented state of mind are: alcohol. gambling. 4. The moment we stop trying to change circumstances and focus instead on raising our feeling level. we will have answers to our problems that we couldn’t see when our mood was lower. Excessive thinking about your past and your problems will convince you that you have good reasons to be upset and unhappy. 2. As our minds clear of our concerns. proving yourself. drugs. exercise. It is more of a letting go of unhappiness than it is a striving for happiness. arguing. work. change is difficult or impossible. . more pleasant state of mind. not a set of circumstances. but it is a mistake to continually go into your past or overanalyze life in a search for happiness. If you have serenity. we need to stop thinking about a problem in order to see the new solution. Happiness is a state of mind. which can be the beginning of bad habits. sex. You can learn from your past. fighting. As ironic as it seems. Happiness 1. you won’t experience it. When our mood and feeling level is higher.

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