When I was a kid, I played the piano pretty well, well enough that I won piano competitions locally and regionally, and occasionally I performed in front of large audiences. Because of my interest in the piano, I often attended the performances of concert pianists who passed through the large cities near the town where I grew up. Sometimes after a performance, I would hear people say, “That was beautiful. I’d give anything to be able to play like that.”
I remember thinking more than once, “No, you wouldn’t. You wouldn’t give anything to play like that, or you would have.” I knew what I’d sacrificed to play at my level — getting up early every day of my young life to practice for thirty to six minutes, and then practicing again after school — and that was nothing compared with what these professional pianists had sacrificed to achieve their level of dexterity and musicianship.
The accomplishment of worthwhile goals rarely comes without significant effort, and the most worthwhile goal of all is genuine happiness. I speak to many unhappy people, and in most cases, I ask them what they’ve been doing to achieve the happiness they claim they want. Usually, the answer is Nothing. I then describe some simple steps whereby they can find this happiness and eliminate the emptiness, fear, frustration, and anger that have caused them so much misery.
I often have the opportunity to speak to these people again, and many of them are just as unhappy as when I spoke to them originally. Of course, I ask what they’ve done about the steps I described, and in the case of those who are still unhappy the answer is almost invariably the same: They haven’t done a thing.
They usually have quite a collection of excuses to offer. They were too busy, their relatives were in town, they had a cold, something. Of course, they had the time to do everything else in their lives, but not the time to do what mattered most. They claim they want to play the piano, but they have not taken the time to actually practice the piano.
I’m not condemning anyone. I understand why this happens. Changing our lives is uncomfortable. It requires that we do things we’re not used to doing, often things that are even frightening.
Whatever our excuses, however, if we want to learn to play the piano, we must practice. If we want to become physically fit, we must exercise. If we want to find the Real Love that will produce the genuine happiness we’ve always wanted, we have to study the principles and then actually make the phone calls and meet with people to share who we are with them. Only then can we create the opportunities to feel the power of unconditional love in our lives.
If we exercise the faith to take these steps just a few times, we’ll usually experience enough of a reward that a continued exercise of our faith becomes much easier. I’ve seen people successfully take this path so many times that with complete confidence I can promise success to those who will actually take the steps, just as I can promise to those who practice the piano that their ability to play will grow. It’s a law. We can count on it.