"Happiness is an illusion," the man said.
"I offer a guarantee," God replied. "If, at any time, you are not 100 percent satisfied with all three steps to happiness, I promise to return you immediately to your present status."
"But I'm unhappy," said the man.
Step one: Choose the light
God: You -- and everyone else on the planet -- control your own light switch. It's called free will. You can choose love. You can choose truth. You can choose service. You can even choose -- and therefore define -- your own potential. But first you need to flick on that light switch -- so you can see. To find happiness, you need light.
Man: But is happiness possible? Didn't the Buddha say that life is suffering?
God: Suffering is suffering. Life is a more open concept. Think of a blank canvas. Plenty of good light. And you're the painter.
God does not measure results, only the
trueness of intent and the fervor of effort.
This is why there is such joy in daring one's best.
Messages from the Ancestors - Wisdom for the Way
Step two: Make effort a habit
Man: This sounds like work.
God: It is work.
Man: Who wants to work to be happy?
God: I call it happiness effort. But it's your choice. There's always the status quo.
Man: Ah, tell me a little more. Do I get breaks?
God: Of course. Though some people like happiness effort so much that they do it a lot. There's a guy who used to live in Tibet. He gets up every morning at 4 a.m. It's amazing. The guy can't stop smiling.
Man: You want me to do what the Dalai Lama does?
God: I reside in everyone. Think of me as energy on a grid that connects everything on the planet. There's a spiritual USB port connecting you to this grid. It comes as standard equipment on every human being. All you have to do is plug in.
Man: A God port. Nice metaphor. Very 21st century.
God: Thanks. I try to be relevant.
Man: I just plug in, huh?
God: That's the first step. After that, regular effort makes wholeness possible -- no matter your talents or station. I guarantee that, too. But don't fool yourself. True effort requires commitment.
Man: I knew there was a catch.
God: You'd be surprised how quickly you can find your groove. You just need a helpful pattern to support it. A practice. Imagine your lunchtime yoga. Or your morning run. Or how you wipe down the counter after doing the dishes. Effort is very much like that. Routine and rhythm can bring spiritual connection and revelation. Some people pray.
Man: Pray? Wasn't commitment enough for you?
Love is the abode.
Dwell there in trust and plenty.
-- Messages from the Ancestors - Wisdom for the Way
Step three: When all else fails (and it will), act with love.
Man: I thought you guaranteed happiness.
God: I do. I also guarantee disappointment, loss, pain, suffering and death. Life is hard. Happiness is a way to find balance.
Man: What do you mean "act from love"?
God: Love helps you choose the light when you stumble into the darkness again.
Everything went quiet. God opened Her hands. In patience. In blessing.
God: Love is a muscle. If you don't use it, it atrophies. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. Love returns you to step one, where you chose the light in the first place. The more you extend love's range and flexibility, the quicker it brings you back to the light.
Man: I don't know, God. No offense, but you haven't given me a shred of proof about any of this.
God: Proof is what people want when they feel a need to be convinced. The truth stands on its own.
There was another silence. A long silence.
Man: I'm thinking about that prayer thing. I feel weird even saying this -- don't laugh. But I'm thinking of talking to you on a more regular basis. Having it be my happiness effort. I think I might like it.
Man: But I don't know how to pray. Do I have to get down on my knees?
God: Your choice. Prayer can be a time of healing and recalibration. It can be a time for doubts and concerns. It can be a time when you reaffirm what you really believe is important, what you want to do with your life. The big thing is that it gives you the chance to choose the light every day.
Man: I'm not sure you understand. I don't know how to pray. I've never done it.
God: There's no wrong or right, just what feels authentic and what doesn't. Discard the things that distract you from love and light. Embrace the ideas and words that bring you in alignment with love and light. If you want a place to start, try sending love to the people dear to you -- dead or alive it doesn't matter -- try sending them thoughts of healing and joy. If you discover you're stuck on something -- regret, bitterness, inappropriate desire -- you need not feel guilty or wrong. Just let the "stuck-ness" go -- open the channel. Try again. Anything else?
But the man had already gone outside. To feel the sun on his face while he prayed.
"Thanks, God," he said. "I just wanted to let you know. Step one is under way."
Then as he stood in the sun, doubt rose up within him -- how silly must he look talking to no one, what did he think he was going to achieve anyway? But the doubt faded and it began to feel quite natural -- intuitive almost -- to choose the light in this way.
The man felt a smile tug at his lips.