“We owe it to others to work on our happiness.” – Dennis Prager.
In Chapter 1, Dennis Prager writes about how we owe it to our loved ones and world to be happy. People suffer around us when we are unhappy.
Prager believes that our happiness is a moral obligation, and we will embody more goodness when we are happy. He asks,
“Do you feel more positively disposed toward other people and do you want to treat other people better when you are happy or when you are unhappy?” – Dennis Prager
He writes about how a friend shared with him that “unhappy religious people reflect poorly on their religion and on their Creator.” He went on to say, “Unhappy religious people should therefore think about how important being happy is — if not for themselves, then for the sake of their religion. Unhappy, let alone angry, religious people provide more persuasive arguments for atheism and secularism than do all the arguments of atheists.” (Prager)
He went on to share that if we are religiously devoted yet unhappy, it could be that we are practicing our religion incorrectly or we are following correctly yet our religion steers us away from joy. I was reflecting upon my own religious life, and I can say both have been true.
In Chapter 2, Prager talks about how the easy way is often the wrong way. And it is easier to be unhappy. It’s the easy way out. “The thought occurred to me that being unhappy was easy — in fact, the easy way out — and that it took no courage, effort, or greatness to be unhappy.”
He basically talks about happiness as a muscle that needs to be worked and developed. It doesn’t come easy or effortlessly. While many believe that happiness is the result of good things happening in our lives and the good feelings it brings with it, Prager argues for the opposite: “Happiness is largely, through certainly not entirely, determined by us — through hard work (most particularly by controlling our nature) and through attaining wisdom (i.e., developing attitudes that enable us not to despair).”
He closes out this thought by saying that “Everything worthwhile in life is attained through hard work. Happiness is not an exception.”
In Chapter 3, Prager asks us to really ask ourselves “Will this make me happier or unhappier?” We may come up with quick pat answers — however we are encouraged to think deeper about this. We need to be aware of our own happiness feeders and unhappiness triggers.
So whether we are making a purchase or choosing a thought to dwell on, we need to ask ourselves if this is conducive to our happiness. And we are to think about what will make us happier in the long run, not just what we want to do in the moment.
He writes about how geniuses aren’t happier, it takes wisdom to understand happiness and self-discipline to abide in happiness.