Thursday, April 28, 2011

All People Want to Be Happy

When I was 12 years old, my mother joined Amway.  She bought the books and the tapes just as her upline counseled her to do.  I owe a debt of gratitude to my mother for doing so, even though she never became a success in Amway, because one of those books that she purchased was Dale Carnegie's How To Win Friends and Influence People.  In that book, he said something I will never forget.  It would change my perspective on everything.  He said, simply, that everyone wants to be happy.

Like a light bulb being switched on in a dimly lit room, I saw how profoundly important that bit of knowledge was to me and to my life. If, as Mr. Carnegie said, everyone wanted to be happy then I had something in common with every human being on the face of the planet.  No matter how different our lives might be in every other way, we were both seeking happiness. The only real difference between me and someone else is in how we choose to try and find that happiness.  For the last 23 years, that single bit of knowledge has served me well. I have yet to meet anyone who does not want to be happy, even if they act like they enjoy being miserable.

The only problem with Mr. Carnegie's advice is that it was incomplete.  While it did tell me what everyone was looking for, it didn't tell me how to find it.  He did give me a clue by stating that my success would always be directly related to how successful I helped others become.  Unfortunately, as money motivated as I was at that point in time my understanding of that statement was that I would become rich by helping other people become rich.  Naturally, I thought this would happen by pursuing success in Amway, and was very discouraged when things didn't work out as I had hoped they would.

Now, however, I have a completely different perspective on what Mr. Carnegie meant by that statement.  I have a Christian perspective.  Dale Carnegie wasn't telling his readers anything that Christ hadn't already told His followers more than 2000 years before Dale was born. Christ told us that we would only get to Heaven by loving one another as He loved us. In other words, we would only find our ultimate happiness through loving others not just in words but in sharing our time, talents, and treasures.  This is because true happiness is not found in pleasure, in possessions, or in power but in the love we share with one another.  Love is the source of all happiness because God is love.

The difficult people in our lives aren't trying to be difficult. They are trying to find happiness, and they don't know how. They seek it in power, in pleasure, or in possessions because these things are easy to control and there is no risk these things will hurt them. They are terribly afraid of being alone, but even more afraid of being hurt and so they push people away to protect themselves.  The abuser, the rapist, the hedonist, the tyrant, the miser, the philanderer, the alcoholic, the drug abuser, the workaholic, the cold and distant parent all have the same desire to be happy.  They simply don't know how to get what they want in the right way.

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