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Excerpted from You Can Be Happy No Matter What by Richard Carlson. Copyright 1997 by Richard Carlson. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"What we think determines what we see even though it often seems the other way around."

Richard Carlson, 
You Can Be Happy No Matter What
, Part 2

"Thinking about something" can occur over several days or within a passing second. We tend to dismiss the latter to as unimportant, if we recognize it at all. But this is not so. Feelings follow and respond to a thought regardless of how much time the thought takes. For example, if you think, even in passing, "My brother got more attention than I did I never did like him," the fact that you now feel resentful toward your brother is not merely a coincidence.

If you have the thought, "My boss doesn't appreciate me I never get the recognition I deserve," the fact that you now feel bad about your job came about as soon as that thought came to mind. It all takes place in an instant. The time it takes to feel the effects of your thinking is the same amount of time it takes to see the light after turning on the switch.

The ill effects of thought come about when we forget that "thought" is a function of our consciousness an ability that we as human beings have. We are the producers of our own thinking. Thought is not something that happens to us, but something that we do. It comes from inside of us, not from the outside. What we think determines what we see even though it often seems the other way around.

Consider a professional athlete who "lets his team down" by making a critical error in the last championship game before his retirement. For years after retiring from the sport, he dwells on his error for a moment here and a moment there. When people ask, "Why are you depressed so much of the time?" he responds by saying, "What a fool I was to make such a mistake. How else do you expect me to feel?" This person doesn't see himself as the thinker of his own thoughts, nor does he see his thinking as the cause of his suffering. If you suggested to him that it was his thinking that was depressing him, he would, in all honesty, say, "No it isn't. The reason I'm depressed is that I made the mistake, not that I'm thinking about it. In fact, I seldom think about it anymore. I'm simply upset at the facts."

We could substitute any example for our ex-athlete's error: A past relationship, a current one "on the rocks," a financial blunder, harsh words we said to hurt someone, criticism leveled at ourselves, the fact that our parents were less than perfect, that we chose the wrong career or mate, or whatever it is all the same. It's our thinking, not our circumstances, that determines how we feel. We forget, moment to moment, that we are in charge of our thinking, that we are the ones doing the thinking, so it often appears as though our circumstances are dictating our feelings and experience of life. Consequently, it seems to make sense to blame our unhappiness on our circumstances, which makes us feel powerless over our lives.

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