The e-mail said, "I've got to do something about this stress. If I don't, a heart attack could be the next thing I'm dealing with," my friend said. "All I want is to be happy, but I don't know whether that's possible any more." While I did not have the specific answers he was looking for, perhaps you'll find my reply useful in your own search for happiness.

Hi (my friend's name),

I was glad to hear from you. Thanks for filling me in. Sounds like a busy time in your life. I want to tell you about a book that you can order through Amazon that might apply to your situation (new home, near future changing jobs, your grandmother, your mother, and your family situation, and all the other life challenges you're going through). I'd like to recommend a book to you. I'm reading it now. It's called Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes, Strategies for coping with the difficult, painful, and confusing times in your life by Dr. William Bridges. In it he discusses endings as opportunities as well as losses, and discusses ways to open new doors. The Neutral Zone is a seemingly unproductive "time-out" in which we feel disconnected from the past and emotionally unconnected to the present. It is, however, an important time for reorientation. The New Beginning: He says a successful transition means launching new priorities, understanding the external and internal signs that point the way to your future. It's really worth reading and much better than other people saying, "Well, you ought to do this," or "You ought to do that," or "If it were me I'd...."

Also, you might enjoy Live the Life You Love by Barbara Sher. She's a fascinating woman and years ago, when doing my daily talk show in Austin, Texas, I interviewed her when her first book, Wishcraft, came out. One thing I learned from her the day she was on my show was how important it is to get clear about what you truly want from life so you can, in faith, live the life you love.

Look, I really care about you. Wish we had more time to talk and know you are busy. But, a way of relieving stress might be those hill country motorcycle rides. Who knows? Just don't lose your life (or health) in the process of living it. It's not worth it. I really want you to have faith and confidence in your future. I know about half a dozen millionaires (one is a billionaire) and not one of them is happy, so while money is great to have (and I wish I had more too) I realize there is also such a thing as emotional prosperity which the people who have it all (and more) can't figure out why their lives are so empty. They haven't yet figured out that it is we who create the meaning by getting absorbed and fascinated by some particular thing or things we love and that meaning doesn't just walk in the door and announce, "Hey, here I am," while they're drinking coctails over a power lunch in a glitzy restaurant. I know, within you, are deep springs (to use a metaphor) of creativity. The problem is, as we all know, that everyday trivialities keep distracting us and pulling us away from how we'd love to express our life like some drunk on a train that keeps babbling away during the whole trip.

I know you've got a lot on your plate but, as you pointed out in your e-mail, you must make time for yourself and what you love — streams of newness, new stimuli, — and you do it for you and nobody else. If the world wants to get on your bandwagon and pay you for it all the better. Sometimes, however (as I've found out) you have to cut your own psychological paycheck for awhile until they discover how great your work is. If they don't, then they'll never know, but the neat thing is that YOU DO and no one can take that away from you. I want you to have a great future. Whatever has been in your past, events, disappointments, people not keeping their word, pulling the rug out from under you, is no indication of how your future can be.

By the way, if you would like more money, and who doesn't, give Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill a try. This book is a classic as is Robert Collier's Riches Within Your Reach.

You might enjoy one of my favorite quotes from Lewis Carroll and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. "Who are you?" said the caterpillar... "I hardly know, Sir, just at present," Alice replied rather shyly, "at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then." P..., don't let the distractions of right now keep you from knowing not only who you are but what you intend to do with your life (whether you get paid for it or not). Preferably, you will. I'm on your side, always rooting for you, because as you know I've had my own roller coaster ride with life and sometimes spent nights yelling at it for disappointing me so, but knowing what I want to do with the remaining years I have left (as I hope you do) makes a big difference in how events and opportunities shape themselves for you. Your faith in yourself, to a large degree, IS your fortune. The rest is money, but money is not your fortune.

Allow me to pass on the words of Eckhart Tolle in his book The Power of Now: "The present moment is all you ever have."
When it comes to laying out your dreams, and being honest about them, I share with you the words of Dr. Robert Schuller who said, "Never say 'no' to a great idea simply because it is impossible." If you're a bit inclined toward knowing more about life's mysteries, I suggest you purchase a copy of Colin Wilson's Access to Inner Words. It will, if studied and underlined, make quite a difference in how you see your current situation, your life, and what you will do with it in the year's ahead.

Be happy now! "Oh yea, you say it like it's easy but I know better," I hear you telling me. "You have no idea what I've been through the last few years." Yet, I'm encouraging you, no matter what happens in your life, to become intensely interested in something you are passionate about — that hidden side of yourself that others don't know about knows what I'm talking about — and by taking your already present, existing happiness into any situation that may arise you will be able to take a bird's eye view [or God's eye view] of your situation rather than a worm's eye perspective which is all too easy to do. I have faith and confidence in your future. I know people who believe in you and I ask that you transfer some of our faith in you to yourself and see your life in the widest possible net of relations!

Give happiness a try. Happiness is a miracle worker. I've seen happiness turn people's lives around in almost no time at all.

Here's wishing you the best,

Author's Bio: 

During his years as a TV talk show host, James shared meaning-filled discussions with film stars, celebrities, musicians, U.S. Presidents, first ladies, governors, world-famous authors, athletes, scientists, and people from most every walk of life.