Fifteen Roads to Happiness

Last week I attended a 3 day symposium on various aspects of psychology and culture for continuing education credits (I need 36 hours every 2 years to retain my license). One of the presentations was on “Treating Anxiety.” When I entered the ballroom in which the presentation was to be held I noticed a large screen with different quotations being shown every minute or so, all relating to happiness.

The connection between treating anxiety and happiness? Well, quite simply, if you are happy, in that moment you by definition can’t feel anxious. So cultivating happiness is an effective antidote to anxiety. I wanted to share with you some of the wonderful quotes. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that these quotes are primarily about the power of positive thinking. They shine a light on the power of our thoughts, PERIOD! What we allow (or, better, choose) our minds to focus on determine’s our emotional state of being.

Powerful Quotes

  • “It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.” – Dale Carnegie
  • “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”  – Marcus Aurelius
  • “I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet, I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”  – Groucho Marx
  • “When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.”  – Helen Keller
  • “There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.”  – Epictetus (Greek philosopher)
  • “Learn to let go; that is the key to happiness.”  – Buddha
  • “A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.”  – Hugh Downs (news anchor, TV host)
  • “Do not look back on happiness or dream of it in the future. You are only sure of today; do not let yourself be cheated out of it.”  – Henry Ward Beecher (minister and social activist)
  • “Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.”  – Unknown
  • “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow. It only saps today of its joy.”  – Leo Buscaglia (author and motivational speaker)
  • “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”  – Dr. Seuss

There were also some trenchant quotes about the “false” (or, perhaps more accurately, less universal) road to happiness – the pursuit of cxircumstances, experiences, or objects which bring pleasure:

  • “Happiness is a myth we seek, If manifested surely irks; Like river speeding to the plain, On its arrival slows and murks. For man is happy only in His aspiration to the heights; When he attains his goal, he cools and longs for other distant flights.”  – Kahlil Gibran
  • “For many men, the acquisition of wealth does not end their troubles, it only changes them.”  – Seneca
  • “Don’t rely on someone else for your happiness and self-worth. Only you can be responsible for that. If you can’t love and respect yourself – no one else will be able to make that happen. Accept who you are – completely; the good and the bad – and make changes as YOU see fit – not because you think someone else wants you to be different.”  – Asley Montague (anthropologist)
  • Finally there is a wonderfully witty quote on happiness by that wittiest of men, Oscar Wilde: “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”