Happiness is a Choice

Paramhansa Yogananda

If you want to be sad, no one in the world can make you happy. But if you make up your mind to be happy, no one and nothing on earth can take that happiness from you.

If you have given up hope of ever being happy, cheer up. Never lose hope. Your soul, being the reflection of the ever-joyous Spirit, is happiness itself. If you keep the eyes of  your concentration closed, you cannot see the sun of happiness burning within your bosom. But no matter how tightly you close the eyes of your attention, the happiness rays continuously try to pierce the closed doors of your mind. Open the portals of calmness and you will find the bright sun of joy within yourself.

The joyous rays of the soul can be perceived if you interiorize your attention. Do not search for happiness only in beautiful clothes, delicious dinners, and other comforts. These will imprison your happiness behind the bars of outwardness.

If you have made up your mind to find joy within yourself, sooner or later you will find it. Seek it daily, by continuously deeper meditation within, and you will surely find everlasting happiness. Make a steady effort to go within, and you will find your greatest happiness there.

Happiness comes, not by helplessly wishing for it, but by dreaming, thinking, and living it in all circumstances. No matter what you are doing, keep the undercurrent of happiness, the secret river of joy, flowing beneath the sands  of your thoughts and the rocky soils of hard trials.


Some people smile most of the time while they hide a sorrow-corroded heart. Such people slowly pine away beneath the shadows of meaningless smiles. There are other people who smile once in a while, yet have beneath the surface a million fountains of laughing peace. Learn to be secretly happy within your heart in spite of all circumstances, and say to yourself, “Happiness is the greatest divine birthright—the buried treasure of my soul. I have found that I am secretly rich beyond the dream of kings.”

Persons of strong character are usually the happiest. They do not blame others for troubles that can be traced to their own actions and lack of understanding. They know that no one has the power to add to their happiness or detract from it, unless they themselves allow the adverse thoughts or wicked actions of others to affect them.

A strong determination to be happy will help you. Do not wait for your situation to change, thinking that therein lies the trouble. Try to be happy under all circumstances. If your happiness sometimes seems dependent on certain conditions, then change your circumstances so that you will be happy all the time.

Don’t be bound by set rules, as there are exceptions to every rule. Perhaps you say, “If this or that happens, I shall be very contented.” Don’t wait. Snatch the highest prize of happiness that is within your reach now, for the will-o’-the wisp of hoping for happiness, and thereby postponing it, leads you through many sloughs of disappointment.

Happiness grows by what feeds it. Learn to be happy by being happy all the time. John said, “If I get money, I shall be happy.” After he became wealthy, he said, “I shall be happy if I get rid of my acute indigestion.” His indigestion was cured, but he thought, “If I get a wife, I shall be happy.”

Marriage brought him nothing but unhappiness. His second  marriage was worse than the first. He thought that he would be happier if he divorced his second wife, also, so he did. Now, at the age of seventy, he thought, “I shall never be happy unless I can be youthful again.” In this way people try, but they never reach their goal of happiness.

Make up your mind that you will be happy whether you are rich or poor, healthy or unhealthy, happily married or unhappily married, young or old, smiling or crying. Don’t wait for yourself, your family, or your surroundings to change before you can be happy within yourself. Make up your mind to be happy within yourself, right now, whatever you are, or wherever you are.

Modern man takes pride in his scientific approach to reality. Let me then make this proposal: that you analyze life itself—in a laboratory, as it were. Americans love to experiment, so why not experiment on yourselves: on your attitudes toward life, on your thoughts and behavior?

Find out what life is, and how human life might be improved. Discover what people most deeply want in life, and what is the best way for them to achieve their hearts’ desire. Find what it is they most want to avoid, and how they might, in future, avoid this unwelcome “guest.”


In physics and chemistry, if a person wants the right answers he must ask the right questions. The same is true also in life. Try to find out why so many people are unhappy. Then, having understood that, seek the best way of achieving lasting happiness.

Can you make your half-dead rose plant of life bloom again?

We are usually born rich with smiles, youth, strength, beauty, health, mystic aspirations, and swelling hopes. As we live and grow, we begin to lose these riches, and the roses in us begin to fade. Why is this? The rose blooms only to die.  Does our happiness come only in order to vanish?

We want to bloom with good actions, fragrant with happiness, and to rest forever with the memories of those who appreciate us. We do not have to die devoured by poverty, sickness, or sorrow. To guard our rose plant, we must attend to it properly with much watering, feeding, and guarding it from pests and chill. The rose plant of our happiness can grow only on the fertile soil of our peace. It can never grow on hard, unfeeling soil of human mentality. We have to dig constantly into peace with the spade of our good actions. We have to keep our happiness plant well watered with our spirit of love and service. We can only be happy by making others happy.

The real food for the happiness tree can be supplied only through meditation and actual contact with God in daily life. Without our contact with the Infinite source, from which all our human faculties and inspirations spring, we can never grow perfectly and completely.

The worst pests that attack our plant of happiness are lack of the desire to progress, self-satisfaction, and skepticism. The chill of inertia, or lack of definite, constant effort to know the Truth, is the greatest ill from which our happiness plant suffers.

Be happy, now! If you succeed in finding happiness in your soul, then even though you die tomorrow and join the long procession of departed souls that slowly moves down pillared corridors of centuries, you will always carry with you that priceless treasure. Once soul-happiness is yours, no one will be able to take it from you, however long be your journey toward timelessness and eternity.

Most people live a life checkered with sadness and sorrow. They do not avoid the actions which lead to suffering and do not follow the ways which lead to happiness. Some people are over-sensitive to sorrow and happiness when they come. They can be crushed by sorrow or overwhelmed by joy, and thus lose their mental balance. There are very few people who, after burning their fingers in the fire of ignorance, learn to avoid misery-making acts.


Many people wish to be happy, yet they never make the effort to adopt the course of action that leads to happiness. Most people keep rolling down the hill of life, only mentally wishing to climb the peak of happiness. They sometimes wake up, if their enthusiasm for happiness survives the crash to the bottom of unhappiness. Most people lack imagination and never wake up until something terrible happens to arouse them from their nightmare of folly.


People seeking happiness must avoid the influence of bad habits that lead to evil actions. Evil actions eventually produce misery that corrodes the body, mind, and soul like a silently burning acid. This misery cannot be long endured and should be strictly avoided.

Cure yourself of evil habits by cauterizing them with the opposite good habits. If you have a bad habit of telling lies, start the opposite good habit of telling the truth. It takes time to form either a good habit or a bad one. It is difficult for a bad person to be good, and for a good person to be bad. Once you become good, it will be natural and easy for you to be good; similarly, if you cultivate an evil habit, you will be compelled to be evil in spite of your desire to be good.

Just remember

to start being

happy now, and

every moment

say, “I am

happy now!”

Remember: No matter how much you are accustomed to being unhappy, you must adopt the antidote of happiness. Each act of being happy will help you cultivate the habit of always being happy. Pay no attention if your mind tells you that you can never be happy. Just remember to start being happy now, and every moment say, “I am happy now!” If you can continuously do that, then, when you look back, you can say, “I have been very happy.” When you look at yourself now, you will say, “I am happy,” and when you look ahead, you will say, “I know I shall be happy.” All your future happiness depends upon how happy you are now, so start being happy NOW.

After bathing yourself in the ocean of peace in the dreamland, awake with happiness and say, “In sleep I found myself free from mortal worries. I was a king of peace. Now, as I work in the daytime and carry on my battles of duties, I will no longer be defeated by rebellious worries of the kingdom of wakefulness. I am a king of peace in the dreamland, and I shall continue to be a king in the land of wakefulness.  As I come out of my kingdom of peace in the dreamland, I will spread that same peace in my land of wakeful dreams.”

Happiness depends to some extent upon external conditions, but chiefly upon conditions of the inner mind. In order to be happy, one needs good health, an efficient mind, a prosperous life, the right work and, above all, an all-accomplishing wisdom. A man cannot be happy just by holding the inner calm while completely ignoring the struggle for existence and the effort for success.

But without internal happiness, one can be a prisoner of worries in a rich castle. Happiness does not depend upon success and wealth alone, but upon struggling against the difficulties of life with an acquired attitude of unshakable inner happiness. To be unhappy as you seek happiness defeats its own end. Happiness comes by being internally happy first, at all times, while struggling your utmost to uproot the causes of unhappiness.

The habit of preserving an internal happy attitude of mind should have been started when you were very young, but it is not too late to begin now. From today onward, make up your mind that when you meet your trying relatives, when you come in contact with your overbearing boss, and when you contact the trials of life, you will try to retain your internal calmness and happiness.

If you persist in carrying out this resolution despite all challenges, you will find that happiness depends upon right mental habit and upon resolving to be happy in all circumstances.


When you learn to be happy at all times, however, do not allow this independent attitude of inner happiness to make you lazy. Do not ignore the material causes that stand in the way of your happiness. Strive to remove them, and go through all the activities of life with this calm, happy attitude of mind.

You must be very joyous and happy, for this is God’s dream. The little man and the big man are only projections of the Dreamer’s consciousness. Take everything as it comes, and tell yourself that it is all coming from God. What comes of itself, let it come. Even when you feel you have to try to correct a wrong, try first to feel His inner guidance. Then when you act, do so on His behalf, and never with ego-inspired indignation.



Born in India in 1893, Paramhansa Yogananda was trained from his early years to bring India’s ancient science of Self-realization to the West. In 1920, he moved to the United States to begin what was to develop into a worldwide work touching millions of lives. Americans were hungry for India’s spiritual teachings, and for the liberating techniques of yoga. In 1946, he published what has become a spiritual classic and one of the best-loved books of the 20th century, Autobiography of a Yogi. In addition, Yogananda established headquarters for a worldwide work, wrote a number of books and study courses, gave lectures to thousands in most major cities across the United States, wrote music and poetry, and trained disciples. Yogananda’s message to the West highlighted the unity of all religions, and the importance of love for God combined with scientific techniques of meditation. www.crystalclarity.com


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