Experiencing happiness through the third or mental intelligence requires us to consciously choose joy: to focus on the positive aspects of our lives, or as the old song says, to “accentuate the positive” and “eliminate the negative.” The following bit of wisdom, which has probably made the rounds of every mailbox on the Internet, exemplifies this choice:
She is ninety-two years old, petite, well poised, and proud. She is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with her hair fashionably coiffed and her make-up perfectly applied, in spite of the fact she is legally blind.
Today she has moved to a nursing home. Her husband of seventy years recently passed away, making this move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, where I am employed, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet curtains that had been hung on her window. “I love it,” she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.
“Mrs. Jones, you haven’t seen the room yet; just wait,” I said. Then she spoke these words that I will never forget. “That does not have anything to do with it,” she gently replied. “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not does not depend on how the furniture is arranged. It is how I arrange my mind. I have already decided to love it.
“It is a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice. I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or I can get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do work. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I will focus on the new day and all of the happy memories I have stored away just for this time in my life. Old age is like a bank account. You withdraw from it what you have already put in.”