The Simplest Way to be Happy, as published in Home Magazine, (February, 1933)
"The Simplest Way to be Happy"
My theme is that happiness is not the work of magic. Happiness is the final and perfect fruit of obedience to the laws of life. One who lies in accordance with these laws has a talisman of happiness always at hand.
I know no study that will take you nearer the way to happiness than the study of nature - and I include in the study of nature not only things and their forces, but also mankind and their ways, and the molding (sic) of the affections and the will into an earnest desire not only to be happy, but to create happiness.
A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships. Happiness is not for wild animals who can only oscillate between hunger and repletion. To be happy we must exercise our reasoning faculty and be conscious of our will and powers. In other words, we must have learned the secret of self-discipline. To be happy we must do those things which produce happiness.
Happiness is one of the slowest ripening fruits in the Garden of Life, and, like all fruits, it must be grown. There is a very clever trick in India. A mango-seed is put in the ground, and after divers incantations a full blown mango-bush appears within five minutes! I have never met any one who knew how the thing was done, but I have never met any one who believed it to be anything else than a conjuring trick. We may never have planed a tree, but we know that it cannot grow in five minutes.
Some of us have not one plant in our lives on which to grow the fruit of happiness. We have not planted one sound seed in our hearts, and when we do plant a seed, it gets so little sunshine that it can never come to maturity.
The vine was the Eastern symbol of joy. It was its fruit that made glad the heart of man. The juice of the grape was the common drink at every peasant's meal. The gladness was the innocent gladness of satisfying the need of the body. This is not the truest happiness, and the vine of the Palestine vineyards was but a symbol of fruit-bearing and the act of sharing which implies inspiration to live and work for others with all that that brings of selflessness and joy in others' good.
It all comes to this: the simplest way to be happy is to do good. This is instant and infallible happiness. The surest proof that this is the law of cause and effect is, we may try every other conceivable way of being happy, and they will all fail. We cannot gather figs from thorns or grapes from thistles. The tree bears fruit after its kind both in the soil and in the soul. If we spend the time we waste in sighing for the perfect golden fruit in fulfilling the conditions of its growth, happiness will come, must come. It is guaranteed in the very laws of the universe. If it involves some chastening and renunciation, well, the fruit will be all the sweeter for this touch of holiness.