Excerpts from the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda
Positive Mental Attitudes
If you have given up hope of ever being happy, cheer up. Never lose hope. Your soul, being a reflection of the ever joyous Spirit, is, in essence, happiness itself.
Happiness depends to some extent upon external conditions, but chiefly upon mental attitudes.
Essentially, conditions are neither good nor bad; they are always neutral, seeming to be either depressing or encouraging because of the sad or bright attitude of the mind of the individual concerned with them.
Change your thoughts if you wish to change your circumstances. Since you alone are responsible for your thoughts, only you can change them. You will want to change them when you realize that each thought creates according to its own nature. Remember that the law works at all times and that you are always demonstrating according to the kind of thoughts you habitually entertain. Therefore, start now to think only those thoughts that will bring you health and happiness.
The mind, being the brain, feeling, and perception of all living cells, can keep the human body alert or depressed. The mind is the king, and all its cellular subjects behave exactly according to the mood of their royal master. Just as we concern ourselves with the nutritive value of our daily food menus, so should we consider the nutritive potency of the psychological menus that we daily serve the mind.
Constantly you affirm sorrow, therefore it exists. Deny it in your mind and it will exist no longer. This assertion of the Self is what I call the hero in man. It is his divine or essential nature. In order to acquire freedom from sorrow, man must assert his heroic self in all his daily activities.
If you do not choose to be happy no one can make you happy. Do not blame God for that! And if you choose to be happy, no one can make you unhappy. If He had not given us freedom to use our own will, we could blame Him when we are unhappy, but He did give us that freedom. It is we who make of life what it is.
Persons of strong character are usually the happiest. They do not blame others for troubles that can usually be traced to their own actions and lack of understanding. They know that no one has any power to add to their happiness or detract from it unless they themselves are so weak that they allow the adverse thoughts and wicked actions of others to affect them.
Your highest happiness lies in your being ever ready in desiring to learn, and to behave properly. The more you improve yourself, the more you will elevate others around you. The self-improving man is the increasingly happy man. The happier you become, the happier will be the people around you.
Avoid a negative approach to life. Why gaze down the sewers when there is loveliness all around us? One may find some fault in even the greatest masterpieces of art, music, and literature. But isn’t it better to enjoy their charm and glory?
Nearly everyone is familiar with those three little monkey-figures that depict the maxim, “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” I emphasize the positive approach: “See that which is good, hear that which is good, speak that which is good.”
Freedom From Negative Moods
The ever new joy of God inherent in the soul is indestructible. So also, its expression in the mind can never be destroyed if one knows how to hold on to it, and if he does not deliberately change his mind and become sorrowful by nurturing moods.
You are an image of God; you should behave like a god. But what happens? First thing in the morning you lose your temper and complain, “My coffee is cold!” What does it matter? Why be disturbed by such things? Have that evenness of mind wherein you are absolutely calm, free from all anger. That is what you want. Don’t let anyone or anything “get your goat.” Your “goat” is your peace. Let nothing take it away from you.
Resurrect yourself from the littleness of life, the little things that disturb you.
Nobody likes misery. Why not analyze yourself next time you are in a mood? You will see how you are willingly, willfully making yourself miserable. And while you are doing so, others around you feel the unpleasantness of your state of mind.
You can conquer your moods, no matter how terrible they seem. Make up your mind that you are not going to be moody anymore; and if a mood comes in spite of your resolve, analyze the cause that brought it on, and do something constructive about it.
Remember that when you are unhappy it is generally because you do not visualize strongly enough the great things that you definitely want to accomplish in life, nor do you employ steadfastly enough your will power, your creative ability, and your patience until your dreams are materialized.
Keep busy doing constructive things for your own self-improvement and for the benefit of others, for whoever would enter God’s kingdom must try also to do good for others every day. If you follow this pattern, you will feel the mood-dispelling joy of knowing you are advancing, mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Service to Others
Happiness lies in making others happy, in forsaking self-interest to bring joy to others.
Giving happiness to others is tremendously important to our own happiness, and a most satisfying experience. Some people think only of their own family: “Us four and no more.” Others think only of self: “How am I going to be happy?” But these are the very persons who do not become happy!
To live for self is the source of all misery.
In being of spiritual, mental, and material service to others, you will find your own needs fulfilled. As you forget self in service to others, you will find that, without seeking it, your own cup of happiness will be full.
When you came into this world, you cried and everyone else smiled. You should so live your life that when you leave, everyone else will cry, but you will be smiling.
The Inner Conditions of Happiness
The deeper you meditate and the more willingly you serve, the happier you will be.
Learn to carry all the conditions of happiness within yourself by meditating and attuning your consciousness to the ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new Joy, which is God. Your happiness should never be subject to any outside influence. Whatever your environment is, don’t allow your inner peace to be touched by it.
Real happiness can stand the challenge of all outer experiences. When you can bear the crucifixions of others’ wrongs against you and still return love and forgiveness; and when you can keep that divine inner peace intact despite all painful thrusts of outer circumstance, then you shall know this happiness.
Be silent and calm [in meditation] every night for at least half an hour, preferably much longer, before you retire, and again in the morning before starting the day’s activity. This will produce an undaunted, unbreakable inner habit of happiness that will make you able to meet all the trying situations of the everyday battle of life. With that unchangeable happiness within, go about seeking to fulfill the demands of your daily needs.
The more you depend upon conditions outside yourself for happiness, the less happiness you will experience.
If you think that you can live happily in forgetfulness of God, you are mistaken, because you will cry out in loneliness again and again until you realize that God is all in all the only reality in the universe. You are made in His image. You can never find lasting happiness in any thing because nothing is complete except God.
The unalloyed happiness I find in communion with the Lord no words can describe. Night and day I am in a state of joy. That joy is God. To know Him is to perform the funeral rites for all your sorrows. He does not require you to be stoic and morose. This is not the right concept of God, nor the way to please Him. Without being happy you will not even be able to find Him....The happier you are, the greater will be your attunement with Him. Those who know Him are always happy, because God is joy itself.
Beginning with the early dawn, I will radiate my cheer to everyone I meet today. I will be the mental sunshine for all who cross my path this day.
I form new habits of thinking by seeing the good everywhere, and by beholding all things as the perfect idea of God made manifest.
I will make up my mind to be happy within myself right now, where I am today.