People seeking happiness must avoid the influence of bad habits which lead to evil actions. Evil actions produce misery sooner or later.
The repetition of a few weak actions produces habits of weakness. Most people allow their self-created habits of weakness or failure to enslave them. You can save yourself if you have made up your mind to live differently, but your resolution to fight bad habits must be persistent until success is reached.
Whatever you made yourself in the past, that is what you are now. It is you, who, by the secret, invisible traces of your own past actions, have been controlling the power of your present actions.
It is you who, through the law of cause and effect that governs your actions, ordered yourself to be punished or rewarded. You have probably suffered enough. It is time now for you to parole yourself from the prison of your own past undesirable habits. Since you are the judge, no jail of suffering, poverty, or ignorance can hold you if you are ready to liberate yourself.
Avoid speaking negative things. Why look at the drains, when there is beauty all around? You could take me into the most perfect room in the world, and still, if I wanted to, I would be able to find faults in it. But why should I want to? Why not enjoy its beauty?
If we concentrate on the bad side, we lose sight of the good. Doctors say that millions of terrible germs pass through our bodies. But because we aren’t aware of them they are far less likely to affect us than if we sensed their presence, and worried about it. When we look at the negative side long enough, we ourselves take on negative qualities. When we concentrate on the good, we take on goodness.
Worries are hard to eliminate. You kill off some and others seem to swarm in seemingly from nowhere. They almost bite the life out of you. Just as you use ant poison to kill the pests that infest your house, so you must use the chemical of peace to destroy thoughts of worry. Every time a swarm of worries invades you, refuse to be bothered, and wait calmly, seeking the remedy. Spray the appearing worries with your powerful peace chemical.
You cannot buy this peace chemical in any drug store. You must manufacture it in the stillness of your daily practice of concentration. This peace chemical is a compound of the burning acids of habitual calmness and sorrow-killing true happiness. The acids of calmness and true happiness must be prepared in the laboratory of self-discipline and constant trials.
Worries are stupefied by calmness and true happiness, but are completely eradicated by the constant culture of steadfast peace. Worries can’t be quelled by more worrying or by madly racing to quell them, but all worry-pests can be destroyed by the habit of fostering powerful peace.
Beware! The mind must be protected from the four alternating psychological states of sorrow, false happiness, indifference, and a deceptive, passive peace that claims the ego for brief intervals, whenever it manages to shake off the other three. Look at any face and you will be able to tell whether its owner is at the mercy of any one of these. Rarely do people’s faces remain calm while they are in the grip of the four unstable mental states.
Whenever a person is denied their desire for something like health or pleasure, sorrow comes and changes that person’s face. ‘Prince Smile’ is routed by ‘King Sadness,’ who tortures the muscles and distorts the expression.
Whenever a person’s desire is fulfilled, he is temporarily “happy.” Sorrow is born of unfulfilled desire; “happiness,” of fulfilled desire. Sorrow and false happiness, like Siamese twins, dwell and travel together. They are the children of desire and are never far apart; if you invite false happiness, sorrow is sure to follow.
When the ego is not buffeted about by sorrow or “happiness,” people find themselves in the third state: indifference or boredom.
You ask a person engrossed in indifference, “Are you sad?”
“Oh no,” he replies.
Then you ask him, “Are you happy?”
“Oh no,” he drawls.
“Well then,” you ask, “what is the matter with you?”
“Oh,” he cries, “I am just bored.”
That is the mental state of many people.
Beyond these changeable states of sorrow, false happiness, and indifference, lies the neutral state of passive mental peace. It is of a negative, short-lived nature—the aftermath of, and temporary lull in, the first-mentioned three states.
Beyond these four states of consciousness is the unconditional, ever-new state of “bliss” felt only in meditation.
Don’t make unhappiness a chronic habit, for it is anything but pleasant to be unhappy, and it is blessedness for yourself and others if you are happy. It is easy to wear a silver smile or pour sweet happiness through your voice. Then why be grouchy and scatter unhappiness around you? It is never too late to learn. You are as old as your chronic thoughts, and you are as young as you feel now, in spite of your age.
When Mr. Sorrow comes, do not give him strength by acknowledging his presence. If you feed him with the nectar of your tears, he will stay. He will soon spread all over the bedroom of your life. The minute he arrives, laugh at him—that will cheat him of his joy. Then kick him in the stomach. Apply the fists, limbs, and elbows of your will, and throw him entirely out of the chamber of your life. Thus you will win both a physical and a metaphysical victory over sorrow.
One who was born disadvantaged in any way should resist fiercely the temptation to wallow in self-pity. To feel sorry for oneself is to dilute one’s inner power to overcome.
Your individual happiness depends to a large extent upon protecting yourself and your family from the evil results of gossiping. See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil, think no evil, feel no evil. Most people can talk about other people for hours and thrive under the influence of gossip, like the temporary influence of intoxicating, poisonous wine. Isn’t it strange that people can smoothly, joyously, and with caustic criticism talk about the faults of others for hours, but cannot endure reference to their own faults at all?
The next time you are tempted to talk about the moral and mental wickedness of other people, immediately begin to talk loudly about your own mental and moral wickedness for just five minutes and see how you like it. If you do not like to talk about your own faults, if it hurts you to do so, you certainly should feel more hurt when saying unkind and harmful things about other people. Train yourself, and each member of your family, to refrain from talking about others.
By giving publicity to a person’s weakness, you do not help him. Instead, you either make him wrathful or discouraged, and you shame him, perhaps forever, so that he gives up trying to be good. When you take away the sense of dignity from a person by openly maligning him, you make him desperate.
When a man is down, he is too well aware of his own wickedness. By destructive criticism, you push him still farther down into the mire of despondency into which he is already sinking. Instead of gossiping about him, you should pull him out with loving, encouraging words. Only when aid is asked should spiritual and moral help be offered. To your own children or loved ones, you may offer your friendly, humble suggestions at any time and remove their sense of secrecy or delicacy.
“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Matthew 7:1-2) There is plenty of dirt to remove from your own mental home. Do not indulge in evil talk about the mental dirt in the lives of other people, but get busy and free your own life from weaknesses. Silently heal yourself of the desire to criticize, and when free from condemnation and gossip yourself, teach others to be better by your sympathetic heart and good example.
Unkind words used in a fit of emotion are like a conflagration that spreads over the forest of friendship and burns up all the green plants of courteous dealings and sympathetic thoughts.
People, drunk with excitement and accustomed to anger-slavery, are emotional firebugs who, at the slightest provocation, light the matches of wrathful words and set fire to the inner peace of souls.
As forest fires cause millions of dollars of loss to the country, so emotional firebugs, by setting fire to the happiness of millions of intelligent people, cause billions of dollars of loss to creative thinking, and cause great waste of human nerve-energy.
In order to be kind, it is not necessary to agree about everything. If you disagree, always remain calm and courteous. It is human weakness to get angry and scold, but it is divine strength to hold the reins of your temper and speech. No matter what provokes you, behave yourself. By calm silence, or by genuine kind words, show that your kindness is more powerful than the other person’s ugliness. Before the mellow light of your forgiveness, all the gathered hatred of your enemies will melt away.
If you are suffering from the indigestion of unkindness or crabbiness, drink the medicine of sweetness. If you make up your mind to change, start by speaking sincere, kind words to those to whom you have been unjustly harsh. First, be courteous to your immediate relatives. When you can do that, you will be habitually kind to all people. Happiness has its foundation on the altar of understanding and kind words.
Unkind words are ruthless murderers of lifelong friendships and the harmony of homes. Banish unkind words from your lips forever, and make your home life safe from trouble. Sincere, sweet words are nectar to thirsty souls. They are in demand everywhere. Sweet words create happiness in friends, enemies, churches, business offices, and everywhere. People feel happy when a crabby person leaves the room, and they are glad when a sweet-voiced, sincere friend appears.
People are afraid of decaying diseases that beset the body. But few seriously hunt for a cure when they contract the dreaded psychological disease of jealousy. Shakespeare called it a canker eating at the roots of love. It is worse than that.
The jealousy epidemic seems to be raging in the minds of all nationalities. Jealousy is the matrimonial TB. It eats into happy, healthy married life and utterly destroys it by hemorrhages of suspicion. Continuous mutual nagging acts like bronchial outbursts, affecting the lungs of happiness.
It is also the business tuberculosis. When it enters into a business concern, the tissues of cooperation and unity, which are the life of an organization, begin slowly or rapidly to decay. All healthful political and religious organizations should beware of this decaying disease. Guard your happiness from its devastation.
If you are a slave to your senses, you cannot be happy. If you are a master of your desires and appetites, you can be a really happy person. If you overeat against your will; if you wish anything contrary to your conscience; if you act wrongly, forced by your senses, against the wish of your Inner Self, then you cannot be happy. People who are slaves to the senses find that their evil habits compel them to do things that will hurt them. Stubborn bad habits bludgeon your will power every time it tries to take the lead and guide your thoughts to the kingdom of right action. The remedy lies in rescuing your will power from the imprisoning power of the senses.
To yield to bad habits, is to make them stronger and your will power weaker. Fight your bad habits of anger, faultfinding, jealousy, fear, inertia, overeating, or whatever your particular weakness is, by not yielding to temptation against your will. When you determine to do something that you know is absolutely right, go through with it at any cost. This will give your wisdom-guided will more power over your bad habits. Renounce last year’s material failure, spiritual indifference, mental and moral weaknesses, and halfhearted meditations by using your will to be prosperous, by exercising self-control, and by meditating deeply until you actually contact God.
Almost every soul is a prisoner of the senses, which are entrenched on the surface of the body. The soul’s attention is lured away from its inner kingdom in the medulla, the spiritual eye, and the chakras, to the outer regions of the body, where greed, temptation, and attachment have their strongholds. The devotee who wants to lead King Soul away from the miserymaking slums of the senses, finds that he cannot do so without a severe clash between the soldiers of the senses and the divine soldiers of the Soul.
If you haven’t enough will power, try to develop strong will-power. When you are at the dinner table and Mr. Greed lures you to eat more than you should, and tries to chloroform your self-control and cast you into the pit of indigestion—watch yourself. After partaking of the right quality and quantity of food, just say to yourself, “I won’t eat any more,” and get up from the table and run. When somebody calls, “John, come back and eat some more. Don’t forget the delicious apple pie,” just call back, “I won’t.”
Thoughts of dishonesty, temptation, or revengefulness are soldiers of the miserymaking senses. They want to conquer the kingdom of your happiness and keep you prisoner in the dungeon of unhappiness and misery. As soon as the soldiers of wrong thoughts rally together to attack your inner peace, wake up the soul soldiers of light, honesty, and self-control, and wage a furious battle.
Remember, it rests with you whether you want greed, sense-slavery, anger, hatred, revengefulness, or worries to rule your life, or whether you will let the divine soldiers of self-control, calmness, love, forgiveness, peace, and harmony rule your mental kingdom. Drive away the rebel sense habits that have brought misery to the empire of your peace. Be king of yourself, and let the soldiers of goodness and good habits rule the kingdom of your mind. Then happiness will reign within you forever.
Give both the good and the bad that you do to God. Of course, that does not mean you should deliberately do things that are bad, but when you cannot help yourself because of too-strong habits, feel that God is acting through you. Make him responsible. He likes that! For he wants you to realize that it is he who is dreaming your existence.
As long as you are making the effort, God will never let you down!”