The irony is we were born happy; we lost touch with it.

Have you ever felt the utter meaninglessness of working for a degree, finding a job, then settling down to a life of boredom? Or, if you are an achiever, settling down to a life of emotional turmoil caused by the things that you are chasing after?  Take a look around and see if you can find just one completely happy person, someone at peace with themselves, someone who is fearless and free from insecurity, depression, lack, and worry. You would be lucky if you found one in a hundred thousand.

The irony is we were born happy; we lost touch with it. We were born surrounded by a divinity of peace, joy, and love; we lost sight of it. It’s as if we’ve been hypnotized to see what is not there and not see what is there.  Who is responsible for this condition? Not you.

Has it ever struck you that you have been programmed by society to be unhappy?

It was your parents, your society, your culture, your religion, and your past experiences that fed the operating instructions into your computer, imperiously insisting that its demands be met by life, by people, and by you. If the demands are met, the computer allows you a precarious peace, precarious because at any moment, some trifle—a plane delay, a device that doesn’t work, a document that hasn’t arrived, a spot on your shirt, you name it—it is going to be out of conformity with your programming, and the computer will insist that you become upset again. If the demands are not met, even though it is no fault of yours, the computer generates negative emotions that cause you to suffer. In short, you’ve been trained to upset yourself.  These things depend on the criteria society establishes; they depend on your conditioning.

Most people are so brainwashed that they do not even realize how unhappy they are.

If you look carefully, you will see that the one and only thing that causes unhappiness is attachment. What is an attachment? It is an emotional state of clinging caused by the belief that without some particular thing or some person you cannot be happy. It’s a false belief.

Just take a look around. Everywhere you look, people have built their lives on the unquestioned belief that without money, power, success, approval, a good reputation, love, friendship, spirituality, or God, they cannot be happy.  Most people are so brainwashed that they do not even realize how unhappy they are. It’s only when they make contact with joy that they understand how depressed they had been.

The only method that we have been taught for attaining happiness is guaranteed to produce anxiety, disappointment and sorrow.

Stop for a moment now and think about the endless list of attachments that you have become a prisoner to. Think of concrete things and persons, not abstractions. Once your attachment had you in its grip you began to strive might and main, every waking minute of your life, to rearrange the world around you so that you could attain and maintain the objects of your attachment. This is an exhausting task that leaves you little energy for the business of living and enjoying life fully.

So instead of a life of serenity and fulfillment you are doomed to a life of frustration, anxiety, worry, insecurity, suspense, tension. There you are loaded down by your attachments – and striving desperately to attain happiness precisely by holding on to the load. The very notion is absurd.

The world is crazy!

We’re living on crazy ideas about love, about relationships, about happiness, about joy, about everything. People go to psychotherapy but most don’t really want a cure. What they want is relief; a cure is painful.  They want the therapist to do is to mend their broken toys. “Give me back my lover. Give me back my job. Give me back my money. Give me back my reputation, my success.” They want their toys replaced. If they’re on the verge of going insane, raving mad, they’re about to become either a psychotic or a mystic. That’s what the mystic is, the opposite of the lunatic.  Do you know one sign that you’ve woken up? It’s when you are asking yourself, “Am I crazy, or is the world crazy?” It really is. Because we are crazy. The whole world is crazy. Certifiable lunatics! The only reason we’re not locked up in an institution is that there are just too many of us.

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The Promise Anthony (Tony) De Mello makes: “I can promise you this,” Tony said in opening his workshop. “I have not known a single person who gave time to being aware in this way who didn’t see a difference in a matter of weeks. The quality of your life changes.”


Want to wake up to the reality of joy surrounding you?

Tony De Mello challenges us to come to terms with the false belief that we cannot be happy without the things that we are so attached to, and in the process opens our eyes to the truth that there is not a single moment in our life when we do not have everything that we need to be happy. Think about that for a minute. The only reason we are ever unhappy is when we are focusing on what we do not have rather than on what we have right now.

Anthony “Tony” De Mello was a Jesuit priest born in Bombay, India in 1931. He is widely known for integrating western and eastern spirituality and his work continues to have impact beyond his untimely death in 1987. He is the author of the bestselling masterpieces Awareness and The Way to Love have been translated into 21 languages and have sold more than 2 million worldwide, and he has been a major influence on some of our era’s greatest spiritual teachers, including Eckhart Tolle, Rhonda Byrne, Adyashanti, Thomas Moore, and Paulo Coelho


Through his books that continue to be bestsellers (more two million sold worldwide) and an extensive collection of recorded lectures, Tony tells us, “most people, even though they don’t know it, are asleep. They’re born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing that we call human existence. To come to this understanding requires complete freedom from all desire to change what you are into something else.

However, Tony tells us, change will not be brought about by your cunning, restless ego that is forever competing, comparing, coercing, sermonizing, manipulating in its intolerance and its ambitions, thereby creating tension and conflict and resistance and separation between you and Nature, you and other people, you and yourself, you and God. It is an exhausting, self-defeating process like driving with your brakes on. The transforming light of aware­ness brushes aside your scheming, self-seeking ego to give nature full rein to bring about the kind of change that she produces in the rose: artless, graceful, unself-conscious, wholesome, untainted by inner conflict.

In order to be genuinely happy there is one and only one thing you need to do: get deprogrammed, get rid of those attachments.

The wise guru will not attempt to wake people up

Tony was not selling or preaching anything; he was extending a practical spirituality based on the power of awareness to awaken us from the mind-made nightmare of fear and conflict our programming produces, thereby unveiling to our marveling eyes the kingdom of joy that we have always lived in unsuspectingly.

To illustrate his point, Tony told the story of the Headmaster… A gentleman knocks on his son’s door. “Jaime,” he says, “wake up!” Jaime answers, “I don’t want to get up, Papa.” The father shouts, “Get up, you have to go to school.” Jaime says, “I don’t want to go to school.” “Why not?” asks the father. “Three reasons,” says Jaime. “First, because it’s so dull; second, the kids tease me; and third, I hate school.” And the father says, “Well, I am going to give you three reasons why you must go to school. First, because it is your duty; second, because you are forty-five years old, and third, because you are the headmaster.”

Wake up, wake up! You’ve grown up. You’re too big to be asleep. Most people tell you they want to wake up, but don’t believe them. Waking up is unpleasant. You are nice and comfortable in bed. It’s irritating to be woken up. That’s the reason the wise guru will not attempt to wake people up. I hope I’m going to be wise here and make no attempt whatsoever to wake you up if you are asleep. It is really none of my business.


From Tony’s Blog

Seeking more inspirational words from Tony? Be sure to check out Tony’s blog where we curate and publish his favorite stories, metaphors and parables.

Happiness Podcast

In our short, 3 to 5-minute podcasts, Tony will awaken you to the simple truth that you possess everything you need right now to be living a happy, meaningful and rich life.