GATEWAY TO HAPPINESS
3. Whenever you react to an event or occurrence with a negative emotion (such as sadness, anger, or anxiety) divide the situation into three parts or stages:
Stage 1: The situation itself (without any evaluation). Stage 2: Your attitude about the situation. Stage 3: Your emotional reaction. The situation in itself (stage 1) does not cause your emotional reaction (stage 3). It is always your attitude about the situation (stage 3) that causes your emotional reaction. Change your attitude (stage 2) from negative to positive and your emotional reaction (stage 3) will change from negative to positive. Remember, the positive attitude has to be realistic and acceptable to you personally.
Whenever you react negatively (stage 3), figure out what your self-statements is at stage 2, and try to change it to a more positive or less negative outlook.
4. In his later years, Rabbi Yechezkail Levenstein (1884-1974) wrote that those situations which initially caused him suffering were ultimately the cause of good fortune. (Ohr Yechezkail: michtavim, p.326)
We can never really be certain that any event will actually be bad for us. Why assess an event as definitely negative, when it can turn out in a way that you will clearly see is for your benefit?
5. Even a person with much life experience and great control over his thoughts and emotions will find that in unusual situations his initial reaction will be negative. Immediately use your ability to weigh the situation objectively and challenge your negative way of viewing the matter. This ability gives you a large degree of control over your reactions. (Rabbi Yosef Leib Bloch; Shiurai Daas, vol.3, p. 67)
When you immediately react with thoughts conducive to sadness, anger, resentment, or envy, don’t feel you must keep those thoughts until they wear out by themselves. Rather, as soon as you realize you reacted counterproductively, challenge your initial reaction. Tell yourself why the event is not really as negative as your originally considered it to be. Tell yourself reasons why you need not keep thinking in patterns that lead to resentment and anger. The reasons must be real to you. This might take persistence.
Some people half-heartedly try to do this for a few seconds and give up, claiming they are unable to do it. They give up too soon. We are not claiming that it is easy for everyone, or that it can be learned in a few seconds. But it is a skill that can be
HAPPINESS IS DEPENDENT ON YOUR THOUGHTS