This is a great quote about happiness from the above titled book by Elizabeth Gilbert:
"...People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you're fortunate enough. But that's not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don't you will leak away your innate contentment. It's easy enough to pray when you're in distress but continuing to pray even when your crisis has passed is like a sealing process, helping your soul hold tight to its good attainments."
Actually, there are parts of that quote that I like and parts that I don't. It almost makes it sound like you have to work so hard for happiness that I picture someone gripping onto a rope of happiness, hanging in the air and holding on with all their might. Frankly, the thought of working so hard to be happy doesn't sound very happy-making to me. I don't think it's that hard to be happy, if you have peace in your heart.
I suppose sometimes we might get ourselves into a situation which is causing unhappiness (like Gilbert in her many relationships) and then we have to WORK to change the situation in order to be happy again. We can't just think happiness will come from an external source, although unhappiness can in which case, sometimes, we have to remove ourselves.
But, I think if we are making morally right choices, then happiness is pretty easy.
Or maybe I just have an easy life with the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ, so it's easy for me to be happy.
Anyway, I like some of Gilbert's quotes about prayer:
"Of course God already knows what I need. The question is - do I know? Casting yourself at God's feet in helpless desperation is all well and good- heaven knows, I've done it myself plenty of times-but ultimately you're likely to get more out of the experience if you can take some action on your end." (Here is the joke about the guy who fervently prays to win the lottery only to get a response from God that he needs to buy a ticket first.)
"Prayer is a relationship; half the job is mine. If I want transformation, but can't even be bothered to articulate what, exactly, I'm aiming for, how will it ever occur? Half the benefit of prayer is in the asking itself, in the offering of a clearly posed and well-considered intention. ... Prayers can become stale and drone into the boring and familiar if you let your attention stagnate. In making an effort to stay alert, I am assuming custodial responsibility for the maintenance of my own soul."
If she doesn't feel sincere in her prayers, then she stays there until she does.
Also, this quote about destiny is good:
"Destiny, I feel, is also a relationship - a play between divine grace and willful self-effort. Half of it you have no control over; half of it is absolutely in your hands, and your actions will show measurable consequence. Man is neither entirely a puppet of the gods, nor is he entirely the captain of his won destiny; he's a little of both. ... I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with. I can select what I eat and read and study. I can choose how I"m going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life - whether I will see them as curses or opportunities (and on the occasions when I can't rise to teh most optimistic viewpoint, because I'm feeling too  sorry for myself, I can choose to keep trying to change my outlook). I can choose my words and teh tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts.
This last concept is a radically new idea for me."
The last concept is not a new idea for me. I think I've been taught that my whole life, but I think it has more power than we sometimes realize, which will be part of my next post.