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This Week with The Chicowitz:

A Grateful Heart

Last week: “Memories of the Sock Hop

Andy Andrews admitted that people cannot simply snap their fingers and choose to be happy. “It's a little more complicated than that, he acknowledged.” But then he zeroed in on the target: I do believe that somebody can choose to be grateful, and that happiness is a product of gratefulness.”

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I have always had the greatest admiration for Abraham Lincoln. He is one of the all-time greats in my mind. I have read everything I could find about Abraham Lincoln... everything he wrote... clung to every word he spoke... until one day I read that, when asked about happiness, President Lincoln had said, “I reckon a man is about as happy as he sets himself out to be.”

This totally confounded me. How can you choose to be happy? Can you choose to be sad? Can you choose to be elated? Can you choose to be depressed?

I had always believed that you cannot. You felt happy... or sad... or whatever. You can control what you do in response to how you feel, but you cannot control how you feel. I was convinced of it. You feel however you feel. Period.

This dilemma between the words of a man I placed on such a high pedestal and my strong belief plagued me for decades – not every day, mind you. I did have a life, of sorts. But it bugged me, in the back of my mind. I could not shake it.

The Seven Decisions

Recently I was listening to a motivational speaker on a PBS pledge drive special program. Oh, I had heard most all of them: Og Mandino, Norman Vincent Peale, Leo Buscaglia, Anthony Roberts, Zig Ziglar... their spiel was all pretty much the same: interesting, true, but not especially inspiring... not to me. There was nothing new in what they said.

But Andy Andrews put it differently. He went deeper. Andy’s presentation on PBS was called “The Seven Decisions.” They are the seven decisions that he believes shape your life. Number five is Choose Happiness: “Today I will choose to be happy.

That got my attention.

Andy did not spew out a bunch of feel-good, mumbo jumbo: “You are what you think you are”; “think happy thoughts”; “you’re as young as you feel.”

(No, wait... that last one from the Geritol commercial; skip that one.)

No, Andy admitted that people cannot simply snap their fingers and choose to be happy. “It’s a little more complicated than that,” he acknowledged.

But then he zeroed in on the target: “I do believe that somebody can choose to be grateful, and that happiness is a product of gratefulness.

Then Andy explained how essential being grateful is to being happy. These are the lines that got me:

“The seeds of depression cannot take root in a grateful heart.”

“Happiness is a product of gratefulness.”

Wow!

I admit; there are been times in my life that I have had fewer things about which to be grateful than I would have preferred. But the point is still valid. It is worth repeating:

“The seeds of depression cannot take root in a grateful heart.”

“Happiness is a product of gratefulness.”

(Why, heck... among the lesser things I’ll bet you’re grateful for is that you were not the one investors in Solyndra.)

Solyndra bankruptcy

Success Breeds Success

Andy went on to explain the connection between success (financial, physical, emotional) and the steps one takes to be happy. Success breeds success; it is contagious. People who exude happiness are fun to be with. Successful people want to be with them. Whiners are not fun to be with.

“Our opportunities, our encouragement, our information and knowledge... they come from people that are placed in our lives. And these whiny, moany, groany people... are getting a lot less opportunities and information and encouragement than everybody else Why? Because nobody wants to be around them, that’s why!”

Successful people take no pleasure in being with the whiners. So, by their focus and their actions, unhappy people limit their opportunities for success. Indeed, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

OK, this is not a sales pitch; I’m not fronting for Andy Andrews. But you can buy the DVD of his PBS show (“The 7 Decisions”) or the book (“The Traveler’s Gift”) that inspired the PBS show. Click either graphic to order straight from Amazon.com.

On the same topic, talk-show host, speaker, author, and all-around smart guy Dennis Prager wrote a book called, “Happiness is a Serious Problem.” 

It, too, is a wonderful, inspirational book.

They really are great gifts... for anyone on your list.

The Last Word

So, the answer is not simply to decide you are going to be happy. I’m gonna stick with my contention and disagree with the way Andy phrased it. No, you cannot simply choose to be happy. But you can choose to be grateful. You can and should focus on that. “Happiness is a product of gratefulness.” You can choose to be grateful... and happiness will follow.

It is a decision that you make. Every day.

What are you grateful for today?

Spread the word... and enjoy the happiness that follows.


A BBHQ Pop Quiz: From the BBHQ Official Baby Boomer Qualifying Exam:
Long before he was Muhammad Ali, before he was The Greatest, we knew him as __________


Your final answer is....






 


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