She hunts for food when she and the other lions are hungry. Then, when they’re not hungry, she has an excellent, relaxed time in the sun. I realized that if we could spend our days as humans the way a lioness spends hers, we’d be happy.
In 2009 came to the personal realization that we are here on the planet to have a comfortable life, a high-quality life. Being in the hospital and having a nervous breakdown meant I was not living one. Being in the hospital meant my current life sucked.
So at that moment, I flipped the switch in my head. I told myself, From today on, I’m going to live a happy life. I’m going to be that lion that wakes up and goes outside and lies in the sun.
I was out of the hospital within two weeks.
I can guarantee you that I wake up and keep my promise to myself every day since then. Sure, sometimes I have to hunt for food, and sometimes another animal comes into my territory and threatens me, and I have to deal with that. I still make a lot of mistakes. But I changed for good.
I meet people all the time who say things like, “I’m miserable at work, so I’m going to find another job with people who are friendlier, people who treat me with respect.” Or,
“My relationship isn’t working anymore, so I’m going to have an affair.” Or,
“When my kids leave the house, that’s when I’ll come alive; that’s when my real life will start.”
It’s always about trying to get something outside yourself. It’s always a distraction from what’s important.
My nine months of suffering in the hospital ended with a one-minute thought. What I realized in the hospital and what has shaped my life ever since is this: it is not human nature to be unhappy.
Aristotle knew this. The Greek philosopher convinced him that a genuinely happy life required fulfilling a broad range of conditions, including physical and mental wellbeing. So he introduced the idea of a science of happiness in the classical sense, in terms of a new field of knowledge and a new way of being.