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
"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.
2: Creating A Personal Vision to Live By »»