2021 has been flying by, leaving many feeling like there’s so much to do and so little time.

With my never ending to-do list, it can often feel like happiness has fallen to the wayside.

Growing up, no matter what was going on in my life, I’ve pretty much been genuinely happy… I’ve always tried to find joy in the small things because I’m a glass half full kind of gal. About a year ago I was listening to The Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell and Bell said that she believes life is about happiness or despair. So from that day on, I made a happiness list. It’s pretty simple. Just write down 10 or so things that make you happy and whenever you are feeling down, go to that happiness list and see if you are doing any of those things from the list. You likely aren’t. But don’t worry, you can return to love.

A recurring theme for this past year has been remembrance. Remembering that only love is real, remembering to be kind to myself and remembering to feel the feels but don’t stay in the languishing. Remembering to always choose happiness. Because if I didn’t make it clear enough before, I believe happiness is a choice. 

Recently I had a conversation with Don Joseph Goewey, author and spokesperson for Stop Fixing Yourself, Wake Up, All is Well written by the late, Anthony De Mello of The DeMello Spirituality Center. I was asked a rhetorical question, “Can you imagine a genuinely happy person, who, unlike most of us, is fearless and free from insecurity, stress, and worry – someone at peace with themselves and the world?” 

Sadly, I feel like the people I know who truly embody that mentality to its fullest are few and far between.  

De Mello says to become a happier person you don’t need to change. You don’t have to do anything. You’re already free and you’re already happy and at peace right now, you just don’t know it. You’re surrounded by joy and love, but you can’t see it. The reason? You are asleep, having a nightmare. Like someone who’s been chosen to go up on stage so a magician can hypnotize you to only see what is not there and not see what is there.  

Stop Fixing Yourself is the opportunity to have a wake-up call and it’s actually simpler than you might imagine. In this excerpt below, you’ll find a deeper dive into what Anthony believes and shares throughout his book.

You’ve Been Programmed to Be Unhappy

Has it ever struck you that you have been programmed by society to be unhappy, and so, no matter what you do to become happy, you are bound to fail? Most people are so brainwashed that they do not even realize how unhappy they are. It’s only when they make contact with joy that they understand how depressed they have been.

If you wish to be happy, the first thing you need isn’t effort or even goodwill or good desires. You need a clear understanding of exactly how you have been programmed. 

This is what happened to you:

First your society and your culture taught you to believe that you would not be happy without certain persons and certain things. Just take a look around you. Everywhere you look, peo­ple have built their lives on the unquestioned belief that without money, power, success, approval, a good reputation, love, friend­ ship, spirituality, or God, they cannot be happy.

What is your particular combination?

Once you swallowed this belief, you naturally developed an attachment to some person or thing you were convinced that, without it, you could not be happy. Then followed your efforts to acquire your precious thing or person, to cling to it once it was acquired, and to fight off every possibility of losing it.

This finally led you to abject emotional dependence so that the object of your attachment had the power to thrill you when you attained it, to make you anxious lest you be deprived of it, and make you miserable when you lost it.

Stop for a moment and contemplate in horror the endless list of attachments that you have become a prisoner to. Think of con­crete things and persons, not abstractions. Once your attachment had you in its grip, you began to strive with every waking minute of your life to rearrange the world around you so that you could attain and maintain the objects of your attachment.

This is an exhausting task. It leaves you little energy for the business of living and enjoying life fully. It is also an impossible task in an ever ­changing world that you simply are not able to con­trol. So, instead of living a life of serenity and fulfillment, you are doomed to a life of frustration, anxiety, worry, insecurity, suspense, and tension. For a few fleeting moments, the world does indeed yield to your efforts and rearranges itself to suit your desires. Then you experience a flash of pleasure and become happy, briefly. But it isn’t happiness at all because it is accompanied by the underlying fear that at any moment this world of things and people that you have painstakingly put in place will slip out of your control and let you down. And sooner or later, it will.

All Is Well

All mystics—no matter what the theology and no matter what the religion—are unanimous on one thing: all is well.

Though everything is a mess, all is well. They say you are already happy right now, though you don’t know it.

Strange paradox, to be sure.

Tragically, most people never get to see that all is well because they are asleep, even though they don’t know it. They are having a nightmare. They don’t understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing we call human existence.

Put On a New Mind

We can wake up! Life is a banquet; the tragedy is that most people are starving to death. It’s like the people who were stuck on a raft off the coast of Brazil, perishing from thirst. They had no idea that the water they were floating on was fresh water. The river was empty­ ing into the sea with such force that it reached into waters a couple of miles out. They had freshwater right where they were—but they had no idea.

In the same way, we’re surrounded with joy, happiness, and love, but most people have no idea about it whatsoever. The rea­son? They’re brainwashed. The reason? They’re hypnotized. They’re asleep. It’s like a stage magician who hypnotizes someone so that the person sees what is not there and does not see what is there. We can wake up!

Excerpt used in permission from Simon & Schuster’s Beyond Words, publish date: April 13, 2021

Today, as I go to Wholefoods to buy my groceries for the week and take an hour long hike up Runyon in 85 degree weather… Instead of possibly getting annoyed by the incredibly long lines at the cash register or becoming hot and sweaty on my hike because I’m wearing black (yeah, yeah, I’m a New Yorker at heart- what can I say) which will inevitably cause frustration with my wardrobe choice, I’m going remind myself of De Mello-isms. Both De Mello and Don would say that if you are watchful and awake, all that is false and neurotic within you will drop away and you will begin to live increasingly from moment to moment in a life made whole and happy and transparent through awareness. Awareness transforms you from a seeker to a finder, opening your eyes to the reality of the love, peace, and beauty that has always surrounded you. Awareness will set you free.

So, I will be the observer of my thoughts and choose happiness. All while finding joy in the fact that I’m able to shop and buy organic produce to nourish my body and be thankful that it’s beautiful and sunny in Los Angeles (and love the fact that I’m a fashionista). Because I know that living in a state of gratitude will raise my vibes and attract ma’ tribe. And overall, since like attracts like, it will bring more peace, love, and happiness into my life. 

Stop Fixing Yourself is available to purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BAM, and more. You can pick up your copy here.

IG: @demellocenter