Are you happy?
Do you feel good about yourself and your life?

Over the course of my 60 years, I have experienced great joy and great sadness in my life. As a result of my experiences, I have come to understand the words of Ellen Glasgow when she said, “Nothing in life is so hard that you can’t make it easier by the way you take it.”

Some people can face difficult situations and smile while others will waste their time complaining. James Branch Cabell, US essayist and novelist captured this in his remark, “The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.”

As we begin the month of February, I am reminded of my mother, Martha Allison Cannon. Mom shared her birthday with George Washington and I learned about how to approach life from this quote from her namesake (Martha Washington), “I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.”

Pubilius Syrus in 100BC said, “No man is happy who does not think himself so” and Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” My experience has shown me that you only have to try this approach to understand the truth of what these people are saying.

I have also come to know and fear the pessimist. Helen Keller said, “No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit’’ and Vince Lombardi proposed that, “Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.’’ Pessimists in small doses may help one to set realistic expectations, but a steady diet of pessimism is truly poisonous and will bring down even the most positive person. Pessimists are practicing losers. Consequently, I have come to the point in my life where I avoid pessimists for I fear their potential for bringing me down to their level.

Philosopher and psychologist William James said, “ Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.” In fact, there is a thing called “The Law of Attraction” which can be best described by Proverbs 23:7, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”

Francois d La Rochefoucauld provided one of the best reasons for gratitude and a positive mindset when he said, “ Gratitude is merely the secret hope of further favors.” Going one step further, Ecclesiastes tells us, “Give not over thy soul to sorrow; and afflict not thyself in thy own counsel. Gladness of heart is the life of man and the joyfulness of man is length of days.”

If you are not happy and want to be happy, there is only one person who can make that happen. The benefits of being happy are many in that you are more likely to attract what you want from a positive mindset than you are from a negative one.

If you want to be happy, then you must follow the advice of Mahatma Gandhi when he said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

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© Copyright Bob Cannon/The Cannon Advantage, 2008. All rights reserved.

Bob Cannon turns managers into leaders who enhance performance and profitability in their organizations. Check out other interesting articles available in the Taking Aim newsletter available at Bob can be reached at (216) 408-9495.

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