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Excerpted from You Can Feel Good Again by Richard Carlson. Copyright 1993 by Richard Carlson. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Putnam, Inc.  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.

"There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way!"

  Richard Carlson, You Can Feel Good Again, Part 4

Commitment is a powerful tool for change. It takes pressure off of you by removing the uncertainty that often accompanies a lack of commitment. Marriage, for example, is a commitment. When couples marry, there is a reasonable belief that regardless of what might happen, the commitment will carry the couple through. Prior to marriage, people often feel insecure about losing their partner, but the commitment relieves their anxiety and gives them the freedom to "let go" of their concerns; it fosters hope.

Without commitment, success in any venture is difficult, Whether you are dieting, studying for an exam, learning to play tennis, starting a project or deciding to be happy, commitment is an important step.

When you make a commitment to happiness you are, in effect, saying: There is so much in life that I can't control--the world, other people and their choices and reactions, accidents, imperfections, suffering, hardships. Yet this is my life and regardless of what happens, I'm going to be happy."

Whenever you attach conditions to your happiness you won't experience it. The same mental process that attaches your happiness to a specific outcome will only repeat itself once that outcome is obtained. A person who believes that "having children" will make her happy, will then create new conditions to be met once the children arrive. She may then believe that she will be happy when the infant stage is over, or the terrible twos, or when she has enough money to send the kids to college. Your commitment to happiness itself allows you to let go of all your pre-conditions. Instead of having conditions, you say to yourself. "No matter how difficult it seems, I'm going to practice the mental processes that will lead me to happiness."

Being happy isn't always easy. In fact, it can be one of the great challenges in life. True maturity is about taking that challenge -- responsibility for our own happiness -- right now. It means choosing to concentrate on what we have instead of what we lack.

Commitment is the first step in allowing you to regain the positive feelings that you are looking for. Most of us believe that by solving our problems, or improving our relationships, we will find contentment, but this means that our happiness must be postponed until some future date when those conditions are met. Commitment is a step toward bringing that future to the present.

Happiness is the result of a decision to be happy. You may believe that you will someday arrive at a place called happiness, that someday everything will fall into place and you will. be able to say: "Great, here I am. I've made it to happiness land." Obviously, this isn't going to happen. Regardless of how good your life gets and how many of your dreams come true, you will still have to make the decision to be happy. You will still have to make the commitment. There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way!

The information in this book will act as a navigational tool that will guide you toward happiness. Remember that your goal is to be happy. Make the commitment and use the tools in this book to take you there. So let's get started!

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