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21 Chapter V

IF I WERE TWENTY-ONE I WOULD BE HAPPY

By this I imply that any one can be happy if he will. Happiness does not depend on circumstances, but upon Me.

This is perhaps the greatest truth in the world, and the one most persistently disbelieved.

Happiness, said Carlyle, is as the value of a common fraction, which results from dividing the numerator by the denominator. The numerator, in life, is What We Have. The denominator is What We Think We Ought to Have. Mankind may be divided into two classes: Fools and Wise. The fools are eternally trying to get happiness by multiplying the numerator, the wise divide the denominator. They both come to the same—only one you can do and the other is impossible.

If you have only one thousand dollars and think you ought to have two thousand dollars, the answer is one thousand divided by two thousand, which is one half. Go and get another thousand and you have two thousand divided by two thousand, which is one; you have doubled your contentment. But the trouble is that in human affairs as you multiply your numerator you unconsciously multiply your denominator at the same time, and you get nowhere. By the time your supply reaches two thousand dollars your wants have risen to twenty-five hundred dollars.

How much easier simply to reduce your Notion of What You Ought to Have. Get your idea down to one thousand, which you can easily do if you know the art of self-mastery, and you have one thousand divided by one thousand, which is one, and a much simpler and more sensible process than that of trying to get another one thousand dollars.

This is the most valuable secret of life. Nothing is of more worth to the youth than to awake to the truth that he can change his wants.

Not only all happiness, but all culture, all spiritual growth, all real, inward success, is a process of changing one’s wants.

So if I were twenty-one I would make up my mind to be happy. You get about what is coming to you, in any event, in this world, and happiness and misery depend on how you take it; why not be happy?


If I were Twenty-One I would train my mind21If I were Twenty-One I would get married


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