The Source of Happiness


A story from The Richest Man in Town

At times Marty made it sound too easy. On a visit to his home I heard him say, "People need to decide to be happy."

I pressed him. "What do you mean by that?"

His face took on an incredulous look. "You have to ask me?"

At that moment I felt a little foolish. Complex human problems, at least to me, often prevent people from being happy. To Marty it was a matter of common sense. I wondered, what was I missing?

"C'mon, Marty," I said, "do you really think people can actually decide to be happy?"

"Who makes decisions for you?" Marty asked me. "All my life I've watched people waiting for someone else to make them happy. The way I got it figured, the only one who can make you happy is you."

As I considered his point, my mind began to wander. Strangely, I

thought of an old "Peanuts" cartoon-the one in which Lucy asked Charlie Brown, "Why do you think we were put on earth?"

Charlie Brown answered, "To make others happy."

"I don't think I'm making anyone happy," Lucy replied, "but nobody's making me very happy either." Then Lucy screamed out, "Somebody's not doing his job!"

I smiled at that moment, thinking Marty had something in common with Charles Schultz, the creator of the "Peanuts" cartoon. Both seemed to be saying that it was silly to expect other people to have such an influence over our lives.

That was Marty's third lesson: Only you can make you happy.

That night Marty told me a story that was very personal for him. I knew Marty and Mickey had four children. I didn't know there had been a fifth. She was their second child, Lynette, born with spina bifida. She died shortly after birth.

Forty years later, Marty still grieved for her.

"The funeral director was a super guy," Marty said. "He knew we didn't have any money, but he told us he would take care of our little girl. He went out and built a wood casket for her and lined it with white satin."

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V.J. Smith
Related Topics: Inspired Faith