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Apple's Up! Timeless Advice on Creating Happiness in Life

One day, many years ago, I was experiencing some back and neck pain after driving to Salt Lake for a business trip. (At the time I lived two and a half hours from the Salt Lake.) Many times, an illness or a pain helps move us in the direction we need to go in life and this was one of those occasions, because I was able to get an appointment with my parent's chiropractor on Saturday morning before my flight.

My parents have been seeing Dr. Rodney Alsop, brother of my deceased mentor and chiropractor, Dr. Michael Brenay. I first met Dr. Alsop at Dr. Brenay's office in Springville, Utah. It was then that he gave me the “Apple's Up” lecture. I guess my subconscious knew I needed that lecture again, because that morning Dr. Alsop, with his beaming face and fine wit, was giving it to me all over again.

You see, it doesn't matter what we “think” we want in life. What ever we want, if we analyze the reason we want it, it is because we think that having these things will bring us happiness. The truth is, each time we get something we “want” it gives us a momentary illusion of happiness, but pretty soon we are searching for something else. The illusive happiness we are seeking never seems to arrive.

Dr. Alsop says it's easy to be happy—thought plus action equals feeling. If you just try to think positively, that isn't enough. You also have to “assume the physical posture or position of happiness.” The physical manifestation of happiness is “apples up, stars in your eyes, chest out, hang onto your silver dollar and glide down the glory road of life with a gratitude attitude.”

Apple's Up means smile. Turn the corners of your mouth up and push out those rosy apple checks. It's such a simple thing to smile, but we get out of the habit. The average child smiles about 300 times per day, the average adult smiles only ten or twenty times. A smile catches people's attention, it warms their hearts and spreads sunshine instead of gloom. People respond to a smile with a smile, to a frown with a frown.

Rodney believes that 97% of us are followers. That is, we let outside circumstances dictate how we feel and what we think. If the economy is bad, we are poor. If the weather is bad we are unhappy. If a friend tells us a joke or something good happens we feel good and we smile.

However, we have the capacity to generate our own moods. The other three percent of the population, Dr. Alsop claims control the rest because they develop the capacity to change the world around them. Unfortunately, a large percentage of this group are actively changing the world for selfish and even evil purposes. Only a few learn to generate goodness and happiness from inside themselves to change the world around them for good.

It isn't enough, however, just to smile with your mouth. The eyes reveal the true character and a smiling mouth with frowning eyes is insincere. That's why you have to put the “stars in your eyes.”

That twinkling eye is the sign of an inner happiness. You can see it etched into the faces of some people. They have little “laugh lines” on the sides of their eyes, showing they have made a habit of happiness. The older we get, the more our attitudes get etched into our bodies and faces. You see many elderly people with lines in their faces showing a lifetime of misery and unhappiness. Once in a while, however, you meet an elderly person with smile lines on his or her face, the whole countenance radiating happiness. To the casual observer and the uninformed, it would appear that this person has had a wonderful life, free of the trials and problems which weigh us all down. But if you get to know one of these wise elders you will soon discover that their lives have been as difficult as our own. They have had their ample share of setbacks, trials, problems, heartbreaks and woe, it is just that they have learned to meet these things with light hearts and cheerful attitudes. Long ago, I set a goal to die with smile lines etched into my face, Dr. Alsop renewed my determination to achieve that goal.

To stick one's “chest out” doesn't mean to stand at attention like some military person. It simply means to “stand up straight.” Having one's chest out is closely related to “hanging onto your silver dollar.” This one requires a little more explanation. You have to imagine you have a silver dollar tucked in between your thighs. To hang onto it, you have to stand up straight or it will drop.

A straight posture is one of confidence. It says, “I believe in myself.” It is important to trust ourselves. It is important to recognize our self-worth. It doesn't mean we think we are better than others, it merely means we realize that we are just as good as anyone else. Everyone has successes and everyone has failures. If there is anything I have learned in doing emotional healing work, it is that we all struggle with the same feelings. I have yet to encounter a struggle in myself that is not common to the rest of humanity. Since that is the case, I have nothing to be ashamed of. I can accept the fact that I have weaknesses, because so does everyone else. Instead of wasting my energies worrying about my faults I can channel my energies into constructive activities.

It all boils down to this, we don't have to let other people and circumstances control our moods. We have the power to generate our attitudes and radiate that into the world. It is easy to feel loving in the presence of someone loving, to feel happy when the comedian is telling a funny joke, or when we “fall into” some unexpected financial gain, but if we rely on outside influences for our happiness, it is equally easy for outside influences to destroy our happiness.

We don't have to be one of the “sheep,” one of the “mindless gray masses” whose feelings and attitudes are dictated by circumstances outside themselves. We can take control of our own lives.

When we smile, people tend to return the smile. We put happiness into our environment and others tend to respond in kind. When we frown or get angry we tend to get those things back as well.

Dr. Michael Brenay stressed this point to me as much as his brother, Dr. Alsop. He taught me about the universal law of return. It is called the “law of the harvest” in the Bible, the law of “karma” in the Eastern religions and the law of “cause and effect” by science. The principle is, whatever energy we put out must ultimately be drawn back to ourselves.

Dr. Brenay taught that this happens on a daily basis. He says that during the day we are putting out energy into our environment. At night, we recharge our “batteries” by drawing that energy back to ourselves. Whatever energy we have put out that day is the kind of energy we will receive back. He taught that that was one of the reasons so many of us are sick and in pain. We are simply reaping the harvest we sowed during the day.

If we put our apples up, our stars in our eyes and stand up straight we put out an energy of confidence and happiness, that must be returned to us. Hence, if our lives are miserable and unhappy, we need to change the energy we are putting out. When we change the seeds we are sowing, we automatically change the harvest we reap. Dr. Alsop told me he had to practice smiling for months when he first started because he had such a bad habit of frowning. He said he smiled until his mouth hurt from exercising those “smile muscles” but he has the habit today and it is uplifting just to be in his presence.

However, I've skipped what I believe is the most important part of this teaching, “gliding down the glory road of life with a gratitude attitude.” Dr. Brenay had also stressed this point to me many times. Life is a “glory road” but we can only see that when we carry with us this important “gratitude attitude.”

“When you are discouraged with a load of care, when the cross you carry seems so hard to bear...” begins a song I learned in my youth, which ends with the advise, “Count your many blessings...” As a teenager, I faced many difficulties and problems. I was weak and sickly. Being physically awkward and very poor at sports I wasn't very popular at school or church. However, I learned early on in life that when I was having problems all I needed to do was to seek out other people with problems and try to help them. Listening to the heartaches of others has always made my own problems seem easier to bear because it causes me to “count my blessings.”

The hard part of this teaching, however, is that we are to learn to be grateful for all things, not just the blessings, but the trials and problems and heartaches, too. In fact, we are to learn to see the blessings in our hardships. This part has not been as easy for me.
Like many of you, I've had my share of heartaches and tragedies and sometimes I just want to complain about them. I know that all these things can work for our good when we take them to God with thankfulness and humbly ask His help in learning the lessons they contain. After all, if we really are reaping what we've sown, then maybe the difficulties of our lives are trying to teach us to plant something different.

Sometimes it has taken me a long time to turn an experience around and be grateful for it. It isn't easy to be grateful for heartaches and headaches. I find it very hard to be grateful at tax time when I'm filling out those confusing, frustrating forms, for example. I find it difficult to be grateful that my four children whom I love with all my heart are living thousands of miles away from me. It isn't easy to be thankful when your two month old son dies in his sleep, either. But each time, I take these experiences to God in gratitude miracles happen.

Many times I feel my difficulties have been given to me to drive me to find answers to these problems so that I can help others. Whenever I find someone who I am able to comfort or assist because of the “bad” experiences I've had, I am grateful that God allowed me to have those experiences so I would be better able to serve others. This life is a challenge, but it is in meeting and overcoming challenges that “glory” comes. The soft and easy way is not the path to glory. One doesn't become a hero by following the path of least resistance. No, the “glory road of life” is to be grateful for and embrace all of life's painful lessons and experiences.