Here and there and not just in books we catch glimpses of a world of once upon a time and they lived happily ever after, of a world where there is a wizard to give courage and a heart, an angel with a white stone that has written on it our true and secret name, and it is so easy to dismiss it all that it is hardly worth bothering to do. … But if the world of the fairy tale and our glimpses of it here and there are only a dream, they are one of the most haunting and powerful dreams that the world has ever dreamed . . .
– Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale
I have a secret for you. There is, indeed, a way for you to live happily ever after. All this is required is that you do one thing – that you take pleasure in who you are. And there is a powerful blueprint I want to give you to help you do just that.
STEP ONE. Figure out what happiness is for you (not someone else). In the book, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, Richard Bach wrote: “And what would you do,” the Master said unto the multitude, “if God spoke directly to your face and said, ‘I COMMAND THAT YOU BE HAPPY IN THE WORLD, AS LONG AS YOU LIVE.’ What would you do then?” It’s an important and mighty question to answer because most people go through life waiting until they feel happy rather than choosing what they need to do to be happy. So, start asking yourself “How do I do happy?” That’s right, I said, “DO happy” not “BE happy.” People who live happily ever after DO things differently because they think things differently. You see, most people don’t actually do things. They simply press their noses up to the window of life and peek in on happiness. And the simple truth is that happiness cannot be sustainably experienced that way. Happiness is not something you periodically assemble by watching it as an outside observer. It is something you perform. Which brings us to . . .
STEP TWO. Create a pre-happily ever after ritual. Some of the most imaginative and productive people in the world have a ritual for their creativity. Manifesting happily ever after is no exception. The idea is to find or create a habit, rite, pattern, or ceremony that brings you a consistent emotional state or feeling that speaks to you as: I have arrived. By choosing a pre-happiness ritual and implementing it in a systematic manner, you will increase your expectations, anticipations, desires, and pleasure. When you increase those things, you magnify your entire enjoyment of life. When you keep yourself busy with being involved in creating a pre-happily ever after routine, your energy eventually becomes devoted to the outcome you seek. So which ritual is the best? That’s as unique as each one of you reading this. I can share with you a few of my essential rituals for achieving a happily every after state of mind. I wake up early and before the sun rises (even on the weekends) and immediately focus on what I am going to create for the day (creating is part of my happily ever after definition). I go for a walk or swim or do yoga every day (feeling good is part of the definition, as well). I have preset times for writing or working on a project and I don’t let anything get in the way of that commitment. And I set deadlines for my goals (a goal without a deadline is likely not to happen). Oh, one more thing . . . everyday I look for something to be curious about (I constantly flirt with wonder). How do I know whether something I do is a happily ever after ritual? Because of the way I feel if I don’t follow the practice. You are, in the end, a creatures of habit because such rites force you to be truly involved in what you are doing, seeking, and desiring. Find or create the rituals that increase your enjoyment of life and make your experiences more intense.
STEP THREE. Get over it! The Past, that is. If you permit things in the past to haunt you, then you are allowing roadblocks to your happily ever after to exist. What? Something or someone has happened to you (in the past) that you just can’t get over? Realize that what you are feeling about this past person or event or thing is something you have learned to DO to yourself. It’s a story that you’ve told yourself. And it must be serving you or you wouldn’t keep telling the story over and over. There is a part of you that needs something from that past person, event, or thing and that is why you are holding on to it. Find out what it is that you need and, when you’re ready, find something in the present that satisfies that wanting. Once you spend more time focusing on the present, you will find that guilt, hurt, or anxiety over the past start to melt away.
You now have the initial blueprint for living a happily ever after life. So, to use Richard Bach’s quote, go out and “be happy in the world, as long as you live.”
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