Are You Happy?

Many years ago, I bought a book written by Doctor Murray Banks, entitled, “How to Live With Yourself.” I started rereading it and was amused and delighted at the good sense he makes.

I particularly like his definition of the quest for happiness. He wrote, “Life itself is very much like climbing a slippery glass hill. We climb, and we slip; we climb a little more and slip again.

We all slip from time to time.”

Everyone has sorrow, disappointment, tragedy, frustration! But the measure of a man, the measure of you or anyone else, is not whether you slip – for slip, you must – but what you do when you slip. Do you pick yourself up and go a little higher on the hill, or do you lie there and whine, or go back into illness, nervous breakdown or defeat and despair?

“Never forget,” the Doctor goes on to write, “happiness is like a butterfly. The more you chase it and chase it directly, then the more it will elude you. But if you sit down quietly and turn your attention to other things, then it comes and softly sits on your shoulder.”

Here are ten questions for you:

If you’re really well-adjusted, a happy person, you will answer yes to every one of them. You will also be one person in a hundred. If you have to answer no to some of them, you’ll know the areas in your life which need strengthening.

  1. Are you happy?
  2. Are you ambitious for life?
  3. Are you socially adjusted?
  4. Do you have unity and balance?
  5. Do you give attention in your life to the present?
  6. Do you have insight into your own conduct?
  7. Do you have a confidential relationship with someone else?
  8. Do you have a sense of the ridiculous?
  9. Are you engaged in satisfying work?
  10. Do you attack your problems promptly and intelligently?

If you’re one in a hundred, or maybe a thousand, you answered “yes” to each question. In fact, you can rent yourself out to a University so that psychology professors can point to you and say, “This is a perfect specimen with all his marbles in the proper place.” They may even put you in a plastic box and a time capsule so that human beings in future centuries will be able to unearth you and try to figure out how you managed it.

As the psychologists say, the important thing isn’t the problems that face us.

It’s how we react to those problems. That lets people know, including yourself, whether or not you’ve learned to live with yourself. Getting on a train, or a rocket to the moon, won’t leave your problems behind. They tag along for the ride.

The trick is to face problems squarely and take the best action of which we’re capable, to look at issues for what they really are, and to try not to take them, or ourselves, too seriously. In this way, we’ll very probably amount to something, and I don’t mean it necessarily in the materialistic sense. Good mothers, for instance, are just as rare as millionaires, and so are good fathers and good marriages.

Amounting to something means overcoming the problems and frustrating experiences.

Amounting to something means to keep climbing on that hill of glass, which Dr. Banks talks about. It means knowing that slipping a little from time to time is something you can expect when you go around climbing glass mountains.