By Bo Sanchez
Since this is a happy day, I share with you my take on happiness.
Let me tell you a crazy story.
One morning, a woman was sad when she faced the mirror. She discovered she only had three strands of hair on her head. Suddenly, she smiled. “Today,” she said, “I’ll braid my hair!” And after doing so, she walked out of her home and had fun, fun, fun.
The next morning, the woman woke up and felt sad as she looked in the mirror. She discovered she only had two strands of hair. Suddenly, she smiled. “Today,” she said, “I’ll part my hair in the middle.” After she did that, she walked out of her home and had fun, fun, fun.
The next morning, the woman woke up and felt sad as she looked in the mirror. She discovered she only had one strand of hair left. Suddenly, she smiled. “Today,” she said, “I’ll wear my hair in a ponytail.” After she did that, she walked out of her home and had fun, fun, fun.
The next morning, the woman woke up and felt sad as she looked in the mirror. She discovered she had zero hair left. Suddenly, she smiled. “Yeepee!” she shouted in glee, “I don’t have to do my hair today!” Immediately, she walked out of her home and had fun, fun, fun.
Do you want to be happy?
The difference between pleasure and happiness
A thick wad of P1,000 bills gives pleasure.
A chocolate parfait with thick chocolate syrup gives pleasure.
A fun movie, with a bucket of popcorn on the side, gives pleasure.
A roller coaster ride gives pleasure.
A kiss gives pleasure.
What’s the difference between pleasure and happiness?
Pleasure is an outside job. But happiness is an inside job.
It doesn’t depend on any external circumstances. Yep, even if you only have three strands of hair on your head.
Happiness isn’t the absence of problems. The Bible doesn’t say, “Be joyful sometimes” or “Be joyful when you don’t have problems”. The Bible says, “Be joyful always”.
But the Bible says, “Be joyful always” because happiness isn’t a mood.
Happiness isn’t an emotion either. Happiness is a way of life.
7 Tools of Happiness
I know of strange human beings walking this face of the earth who are extremely happy. Not just moderately or mildly happy, but deeply joyful. (Hey, you may be one of them. Congratulations!)
I know them. Some of them are my friends. What is common among them all?
I came up with seven great things I see in extremely happy people. I call them the 7 Tools of Happiness:
1. Happy people create their destiny.
2. Happy people like themselves a lot.
3. Happy people nurture connections.
4. Happy people find delight everywhere.
5. Happy people embrace change.
6. Happy people trust deeply.
7. Happy people work their purpose daily.
Let me share with you why many people are unhappy.
Your body is hardwired to be afraid
The enemy of happiness isn’t sadness.
The enemy of happiness isn’t problems.
The enemy of happiness isn’t loneliness.
The enemy of happiness is fear.
In his excellent book, What Happy People Know, Dan Baker explains how our body circuitry is wired to fear.
Our brain has three parts: the brain stem, the amygdala, and the neocortex. The more primitive parts of our brain, the brain steam (also called the reptilian brain, because reptiles have these for brains) and the amygdala are programmed for fear.
Why? Our ancestors needed fear to survive living in the wilderness with lions, wolves, and cobras around you. Danger lurks behind every tree and shadow. Once their brain registered fear, the endocrine glands produced fear hormones adrenaline and cortisol. It gave them super strength to fight or flight. And in fighting or fleeing, they exhausted the adrenaline and cortisol in their body.
But what about us who usually sit behind desks and work on computers? We still have the same fear mechanism. But this time, we’re no longer afraid of lions or cobras behind every tree.
We afraid of our rising credit card bills.
We’re afraid of our boss.
We’re afraid of losing our jobs.
We’re afraid for our children—what will happen to their future?
We’re afraid that at 35, we won’t get married anymore.
We’re afraid we’ll grow lonely.
We’re afraid we’ll run out of money.
We’re afraid of social rejection.
We’re afraid of social shame and losing face.
We’re afraid of disease.
And these fears are so real, our endocrine glands produce adrenaline and cortisol as well. And because we’re seated behind our desks, pounding on our computers, we really don’t use up any of it. Adrenaline and cortisol become poison in our bodies, destroying our health bit by bit.
Thus, very few people are happy.
Conclusion: If we want to be happy, we need to overcome our fears.
The only antidote to fear
Twenty years ago, a friend gave me a book about facing fears.
My arrogant response to her was, “Thanks for the book. But frankly, I don’t think I need it. I don’t know why, but fear isn’t a problem for me. I don’t have any fear.”
Ten years later, I ate my words.
Because after a deep soul search, I realized how my life was run by many fears. Many of the things I was doing I did because of fear!
I feared what other people said about me.
I feared failure.
I feared angry people.
I feared of not having enough.
I feared of not being enough.
In my life, I’ve discovered that there is only one thing that can overcome fear.
There is only one thing that is more powerful than fear.
The only antidote to fear is love. When you fill your life with love, your fears naturally disappear.
I’m talking about a love for God, a love for others, a love for yourself, and a love for life itself. The Bible says, “perfect love casts out all fear” and I totally believe it.
Remember the 7 Tools of Happiness I listed above? Every single one of them is really a facet of love—and each tool can drive away a specific fear in your life. Once your fears are gone, happiness will flood your soul.