Happiness Is A Choice represents the cutting edge of Barry Neil Kaufman's evolving teaching and is one of Kaufman’s most inspiring works to date. This book focuses on empowering our moment of change, the moment in which we can make self-acceptance, inner peace, love and joy immediately tangible. It offers a blueprint of simple, yet concrete methods to empower the decision to be happy.
Years ago, following the publication of my first book about the uplifting journey my family took to heal our special child (once neurologically impaired and dysfunctional), I spoke with a man who had written quite a different saga. He documented what he experienced as the difficult and damning reality of parenting a "less-than-perfect" youngster. He declared without apology that be hated people like me.
"You take something that's terrible," he said flatly, "and make believe it's beautiful."
I considered his point of view for a moment. "Did you ever consider," I asked softly, "that you might be taking something that's beautiful and making believe it's terrible?"
At that moment, I realized that neither one of us held the truth, only a vision we had each created and then used to embrace our situation. I had decided to see my son and his difficulties as an opportunity to grow, learn and love. He regarded his situation as a curse. Our different experiences had followed from those distinctly different visions.
Wanting to reach out to him, I told him that I, too, would have once been overwhelmed and devastated by such an event. I remember, in grade school, watching a group of mentally retarded students trying to master the simplest aspects of a baseball game without success. I turned away, confused and uncomfortable about what I had witnessed. In high school, a boy in one of my classes walked with a limp, his left hand and arm contorted awkwardly. When he tried to speak, he had tremendous difficulty forming words and drooled uncontrollably each time be labored to verbalize even the shortest sentence. The teacher told us that Douglas had been born that way. Sometimes, other students mimicked his movements and laughed at their pantomimes. For one semester I tried to help him by carrying his book-bag, though I felt somewhat awkward, embarrassed and scared each time. I never knew what to say to him, so we walked together from the bus to the school building in silence.
Before the arrival of our first child, I thought about Douglas and how his life seemed like torture to me. I remember lying in bed one night, staring at the huge abdomen of my pregnant wife and thinking, "Oh God, what if ... just what if what happened to Douglas happened to us and our child?" I remember praying for a healthy baby. Indeed, our first two children, both daughters, arrived as healthy and energetic little people. Our third child was very different. However, by the time of his arrival, my wife and I both had changed dramatically from the frightened and uncomfortable people who had greeted those first years of marriage and child rearing.
I tried to explain how the world had changed for me, in significant and irrevocable ways, once I had changed my own vision of life and had begun to make happiness and love priorities. As a result, my wife and I could greet our special child as a wonderful opportunity. The man with the different point of view listened to my sharing without comment. Finally, he laughed at my unending enthusiasm. He decided I had been well-intentioned but, nonetheless, naive and unrealistic in my hopefulness and happiness. He questioned the validity of my attitude. Ultimately, he preferred what he called his sanity.
The way we choose to see the world creates the world we see.Chapter 2