The Pursuit Of Happiness

Spring is a time of renewal. As the days grow warmer and longer, we’re more likely to respond to our more generous impulses. Whether or not one decides to act on such positive thinking is a decision, says the Rev. A.R. Bernard, author of Happiness Is…Simple Steps to a Life of Joy (Touchstone Faith; $21.95) and founder and CEO of the Brooklyn, New York-based Christian Cultural Center. “Happiness is the way you organize your thinking, which impacts your choices in life,” Bernard says.

Although Bernard contends that through discipline and wisdom happiness can be achieved, he stresses that the time it takes to reach this mental state varies from person to person. “Change-and the happiness it brings-is not an event, but rather a process.”

Happiness is the way you organize your thinking, which impacts your choices in life

  Put the past in perspective Make peace with the present Start designing the future
WHY? Much of what happens (or doesn’t happen) to us is directly related to our past. The first step in becoming happy is becoming content with who you are. Being happy with your present circumstances does not mean you don’t desire a better tomorrow. Project that contentment into the future.
HOW? Although it may be difficult, own up to past mistakes and think about what you learned. “It’s not about the person you wish you were,” Bernard says. “It’s the person who you know you really are.” Once you unearth the lesson learned, you’ve given value to the mistake. Move beyond the mistake and focus on the lesson, which you can then apply to the present and future. Make a list of all your strengths and weaknesses. “We’ve all got flaws, shortcomings, and mistakes that we’ve made,” Bernard says. “However, the key is developing our strengths while managing our weaknesses.” And if you’re having trouble figuring out all your skills, ask somone who knows you well enough to point them out. Visualize those ideal relationships or that ideal job and life you want to have. “A vision is a statement of your future,” says Bernard, who recommends writing down your vision as well as a plan to get there and a way to measure your progress. For example, list attainable goals that will move you toward your vision, month by month. “The more clearly articulated that vision,” he says, “the stronger its influence in your life.”