Harvey Mackay Academy's Blog

The Pursuit Of Happiness Is Not A Spectator Sport

Long ago in a small village was a place known as the House of 1,000 Mirrors.  A happy little dog learned of the house and decided to visit.  When he arrived outside, he bounced up the front steps to the doorway of the house.  He looked through the doorway with his ears perked high and his tail wagging as fast as it could.

To his great surprise, he found himself staring at 1,000 other happy little dogs with their tails wagging just as fast as his.  He smiled a great smile, and was answered with 1,000 great smiles just as warm and friendly.  As he left the house, he thought to himself, “This is a wonderful place. I will come back and visit it often.”

In the same village, another little dog, who was not quite as happy as the first one, decided to visit the house too.  He slowly climbed the front steps and hung his head low as he looked in the doorway.  When he saw 1,000 unfriendly looking dogs staring back at him, he growled, and was horrified to see 1,000 little dogs growling back at him.  As he left, he thought to himself, “That is a horrible place. I will never go back there again.”

Happiness is in the here and now, not in the somedays.  Will you really be happier when the camper loan is paid off, the kids have made it through college, your spouse gets that promotion, or you buy that new car?  Maybe momentarily, but that kind of happiness is fleeting.  Only when you make a deposit into life will you reap the reward of life.  And you will reap the quality of life in proportion to the quality of what you plant.

Psychologist William James said, “I don’t sing because I’m happy.  I’m happy because I sing.”

Happiness is a state of mind. The mind is the most powerful tool in the universe, and you are the one who controls it.  Like your car, if you see your mind heading in the wrong direction, you can steer it another way.  You need to steer your mind away from negative feelings and head in a different direction.  Don’t dwell on the situation that brought you to that emotional state.

John Lennon, the legendary member of “The Beatles” said:  “When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life.  When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wrote down ‘happy.’  They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

When the library of Alexandria burned centuries ago, only one insignificant book was saved.  A poor man who could read a little bought it for a few coppers.  The book wasn’t very interesting, but between its pages he found something very interesting indeed – a thin strip of parchment on which was written the secret of the touchstone.

The touchstone, according to the document, was a small pebble that could turn any common metal into pure gold.  The writing explained that it was lying among thousands of other pebbles on a beach.  The real stone would feel warm to the touch, while ordinary pebbles are cold.

The man went to the seashore described on the parchment and began testing pebbles.  Figuring that if he picked up ordinary pebbles and threw them down again because they were cold, he might pick up the same pebble hundreds of times.  So, when he felt one that was cold, he threw it into the sea.

He spent days at his search, picking up cold pebbles, then throwing them into the sea.  One day, after weeks and months, the man picked up a pebble and threw it into the sea.  Then he realized that the pebble had been warm – the touchstone!  But he had formed such a strong habit of throwing each pebble into the sea that when the one he wanted came along, he still threw it away.

Such is the pursuit of happiness.  Searching for that one magic pebble, people expend countless energy and effort.  Even when the supposed happiness-producing experience is realized, it is often cast aside.  Happiness is enjoying each pebble-like life experience because you’ve decided to focus on the good in all of life’s moments.

Mackay’s Moral:  When you start looking for the good in life, the pebbles will become steppingstones to happiness.

About the Author Harvey Mackay, Founder & CEO

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.

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