Stichting Centrum voor Attitudinal Healing - The Netherlands
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How to Be Happy? by Els Thissen

For as long as I can remember the question of how to be happy has been a big part of my life. That question has always been there. Especially because I did not know how to do it and in one way or another, I knew it had to be possible to live a happy life.


When I was 24 years old, I started attending evening school. After 4 years, I graduated and then entered law school at the University of Amsterdam. My goal was still to become happy. During the last 2 years in the university I discovered that it did not work that way.


At first I thought that studying would make me happy. I started working when I was 15 years old because my parents had the common idea that studying was not necessary for a girl. Girls marry anyway, they always said, so no need to study. Well it worked out quite differently.


My next thought was: Art! That will make me happy. I did an exam, passed it and started attending evening art school. In the daytime I finished my law studies and worked as a publisher of law books. In the evening I went to art school. After attending art school for 3 years I found out that it did not make me happy either. I liked art school, but it was not the final solution, it did not change my unhappiness to happiness.


One day, thinking and talking with Anja, about what next to do to become happy, two girlfriends visited us. We had not seen each other for a few years and all of a sudden they were there. They told us about spirituality and gave us titles of books we could read. At that moment the journey started. It was the beginning of a life-changing period. A lot of things passed by ~~ Macrobiotic, Reiki and Shiatsu.


One day I got a magazine that advertised A Course in Miracles. I had seen the books a year earlier, but at that time I was not interested. Reading had not brought me happiness. Now I was interested and decided to go to a workshop.


During the workshop people told me several times that I would be a good facilitator. I became aware of that capability in myself. I wanted to join a Course study group in my region, but nothing was in place at that time. Fred van der Burg, (founder of Miracles in Contact, an organization that brings people together to study the Course) suggested that I start a group myself. I still remember my reaction: ‘You must be crazy, I just read lesson 4.’ He replied: 'Well, that’s no problem, is it!'


Fred sent me a list of people in my region and after 5 days I phoned them. They wanted to join a group and I agreed to facilitate. The Course group started in my house the day I did lessons 28. I had the idea that I could study the lessons to keep ahead of the participants but it did not work. Some people had been reading the Course for over 8 years!


Offering the groups was the only thing I could do. That was the start of what brought me to where I am now. The Course and Attitudinal Healing were very connected in Holland. I attended one facilitator training, and then another. I also started Attitudinal Healing groups in the region and facilitated these groups for several years. Then in 1996 the Board of the Center for Attitudinal Healing asked me to take over the Center and the trainings and workshops. I still like to do this work and I marvel at the wondrous ways that I was brought to this.


Meeting the Course and Attitudinal Healing was automatically meeting my own concepts and ideas. There is an inner process that goes along with the outer process. 


Doing the lessons of the Course and facilitating the Attitudinal Healing groups always remind me of the invitation to choose peace instead of fear. Participants always do what they do. And as long as I have ideas about their doings, they give me numerous opportunities to choose again if I forget to make the right choice. When I look back I can see the inner journey I made.


Facilitating groups is a shortcut and strong opportunity to learn to choose for peace and love.

There are some things I understand now:

  • When I do not recognize love in a situation, I must have looked wrong. I see it as an invitation to look again and recognize love.
  • We always give the best we have to offer. It does not matter what it looks like.
  • We are totally innocent. And it is possibly that we do not recognize that.
  • Love is what we are. No exceptions.


Sometimes I can add a new understanding to this list. It is added to the list when it has become something I truly know.


The inner journey is what makes me feel vivid and alive. There is a sureness and trust about life and living. About the expression of love in everything ~ and I mean everything, whatever it looks like. That gives a huge feeling of freedom and peace and makes the experience of life very joyfull and funny. Loving everyone is the best thing that happened to me in life.


And guess what? I now feel happy!


Els Thissen
The Netherlands
[email protected]


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