To Love Is To Be Happy With – Prologue

To Love Is To Be Happy With

These pages do not contain the words of a priest or a doctor, but the thoughts of one man becoming happier. As Option was given to me as a gift of love and I made it mine, absorbing, exploring and changing it, I give these ideas and this process to you. If it becomes yours, you too can pass it on!

This is a very private and personal book, although it might speak to a voice in each and every one of us. The words describe a journey … for me, a loving evolution out of the quicksand of unhappy beliefs.

The option process is not so much a tool or formula technique as it is an attitude and a developing process of seeing. There is only one truth, although there are many paths leading to it.

Then why the Option Process and why this book? There have been many renowned and lofty disciplines recorded through the ages. We have, more recently, been generously exposed to the beautiful and wondrous visions from the East. Yet, these avenues often appear foreign and unattainable to us.

Option, in contrast, takes the truths of Christ and Buddha, of Socrates, of Sartre and Kierkegaard, of contemporary psychology and philosophy, and puts them into the language of our everyday tongue. Ironically, there are those who would choose to dismiss it because it is not couched in elaborate jargon or cloaked in mystery. Perhaps, this is its distinctive beauty and virtue. There are others who want to define the Option Process as a therapy or education technique … to pin it down, compare, debate and squeeze it into an “acceptable” category. But somehow, Option is more cosmic than the sum of its parts … more than just a philosophy, a therapy, a method and a dialogue technique.

It is a vision for living, a powerful and effective alternative, born out of the attitude: To love is to be happy with … an accepting and loving embrace of ourselves and those around us. It is an evolving awareness that “I love you by being happy with you” (accepting and allowing of who you are and what you are) and “I love me by being happy with me” (accepting and allowing of who I am and what I am). Nevertheless, I might still want other things for both of us. Yet in loving you as you are, I would not judge you or need you to conform to my expectations or ideals.

For those of us who can or will just choose happiness and let it flow there is no method. But for me and perhaps others who have been or are currently burdened with discomforts, however large or small, the Option Process is an enlightening perspective from which to view our beliefs, so that a new calm and clarity unfolds … a new lucidity that enables us to make unprecedented choices for ourselves and to recreate our lives to whatever extent we want.

Each of us finds our own doorway. In that pursuit, each of us becomes capable of creating our own process. The mechanics are but the bare skeletons into which we breathe life. There is a designed procedure of questioning and a method for becoming happier outlined in this book, but its significance and effectiveness lies not simply in words or questions. Its meaning is derived from our tone and our attitude.

In many ways, the acquisition of the attitude is the method. From there, we can give birth to a new self and rechoose. The real knowing lies only within each of us, not on the pages of a book.

If we give it time, the process becomes part of us. As we move toward knowing ourselves, we can more easily embrace our lives. Rather than remain strangers and caretakers of someone else’s universe, we become creators of our own.

Our culture demands immediate gratification as it casually pollutes us and our environment. Its spokesmen scream for instant answers with precise and well-defined rules. This is not that kind of book … not that kind of process. Nor does it present “unfathomable enigmas” too difficult to penetrate, reserved only for the ears of experts. Option is a turning, a redirecting and a patient flow … in character it is possibly more of the East than the West. This book of the Option Process is meant as a companion for a very beautiful journey … not to be consumed in a one-night or two-night reading, but to be touched, embraced, explored and savored as we would a lover over an extended period of time.

Though I had found meditation and spiritual pursuits to be profound and couch-and-confrontation therapy to be helpful, Option provided me with the first clear and total vision of myself and my life – not from an alien and remote perspective, but in a voice I understood, a voice which was conspicuously my own.

And this was only a beginning, a blueprint that enabled me to allow my world to become a growing arena of endless possibilities … where loving and caring, healing and helping, and even psychic experiences are part of the landscape.

The words, the questions and the dialogues of the Process, which are at times exceedingly rational and precise, provide a pathway through our exceedingly rational and precise unhappiness. A dear friend once wrote: “I feel something in your presence or voice or perhaps the extraordinary work you’ve done with your son that goes far beyond Option. Whatever the tools by which you reached the place you inhabit, you, personally, have taken them far beyond what you’ve learned.” Perhaps, yet it was those tools, the Option dialogues and Option questions, which provided me and continue to provide me with a basis from which I continually recreate and reform my style of living and loving.

As I became happier, as the confusion began to disappear and as I dispensed with much of my unhappiness, a new energy developed. In permitting myself to pursue my wants and in being more accepting, more allowing and less judgmental, I found there was so much more for me to see and do for myself and those I loved.

Often when we look for what we expect or need to see, we miss all the other flowers in our garden. Does the loudest voice move us, or the clearest? It’s our choice. The option process is a very personal evolution.

It is not a question of how much we don’t know, but a discovery of how much we do know.

If someone makes a statement and I reply, “Wow, that’s really so,” that illumination is not the result of their profundity, but is my confirmation to myself of my own realization. The best someone else can do is tap my awareness of what I already know.

At first, aspects of the Option Process seemed as amazing and perplexing as the concept of “the sound of one hand clapping.” Essentially, there was nothing to do to be happy – – but to remove the unhappiness and let go of the self-defeating beliefs that short-circuited my flow. It almost appeared too easy, too permissive, too soft – not concrete enough. There was no one telling me what to do or adding to the already overwhelming mountain of “shoulds” and “have tos.” I was at the throttle, giving myself new opportunities to unpack a lifetime of self-destructive beliefs. As I continued to explore and unearth them, I found many which I immediately and decisively chose to discard.

The concepts and ideas of Option came through to me with such clarity and substance that they required no support other than my own acknowledgment. There was no directing expert who asserted his vision and authority by reasons of credentials, age or money. The meaning and truth transcends the voice and personality of the teacher who transmits it. Ultimately, the prominent voice we learn to respect is our own.

After all the years of confusion and distrust, I found myself learning to love the experience of my own music and to trust the direction of my own inclinations.

The lessons of the Option Process enabled me to change what appeared to be immovable and permanent …and most specifically, to do as a matter of course and wanting many things others, most of whom were “experts,” had claimed to be impossible.

In giving the gift of ourselves back to ourselves, in affirming and trusting who we are, we uncover a universe that can never be contained within the pages of a book. What can be communicated here is the path we can walk to get there as well as a taste of the beauty and excitement that awaits us.

As Option remains for me a most beautiful gift, I find myself wanting to share it with others … not as a panacea, not as a challenge, not as a life-style to flaunt, not as the way all of us “should” travel – but as a tool with which I and many others have been able to create personal worlds devoid of the expectations, conditions and judgments that create unhappiness. The result is a mellow and loving environment pregnant with enriching experiences. And even though, on occasion, I might make myself irritable or uncomfortable, I welcome that as a new opportunity to re-explore my beliefs and reaffirm the Option alternative.

One warm summer afternoon, as we strolled hand-in-hand, my nine-year-old daughter quite simply announced, “Daddy, I want to love everyone in the world who wants to be loved.” And I want to write these words about the Option Process for everyone in the world who wants to read them. If this book reaches just one other person and really touches them, then it has helped to create new life and bears the fruit of love. It is said that to have really loved one person is to have loved the whole world.

— Barry Neil Kaufman
— New York, 1977


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The Option Institute and its teachers have had the honor to present programs (during the last four decades) that explore the attitudes and beliefs we have (and may want to change) and to help program participants find their own answers to questions about relationships, careers, family challenges and health issues. Our new program, Health & Healing: Navigating Life’s Health Challenges (formerly '5 Days to Live') , focuses on navigating significant health challenges and decision-making with greater ease, clarity, and clear purpose.

We are not a medical facility and we do not dispense any medical advice. We have and would always guide our program participants, to consult with their doctors, healthcare providers, and family members in making medical decisions for themselves and those they love. Neither Mass General Hospital nor any member of its medical staff endorses any program being offered by the Option Institute and its teachers.

NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration



PRE-REQUISITES for attending Advanced Power Dialogues are:

  • Completion of The Option Institute’s PowerDialogues program.
  • If it’s been more than 5 years since you attended PowerDialogues, please call 413-229-2100 to discuss options.

NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration


Dear Donor,

Jeannie Reid was searching for answers to the challenges she and her family were facing. Jeannie and her husband Stuart’s son, Carson, had been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, a condition on the Autism spectrum. For Carson that meant being completely involved in obsessive behaviors and only using minimal words to identify objects, as well as frequently and completely melting down.

Soon after, Jeannie found the book, “Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues” and when she read it, she KNEW she had found what she was looking for. She began using some of the Son-Rise techniques described in the book on her own until she was able to come to The Autism Treatment Center of America for the Son-Rise Program Start-Up. As she put into practice what she learned there, Carson’s world was opening up. Today Carson is attending a Montessori school as a 'typical' student and functioning at or above typical grade level, being fully verbal and conversational, and very interested in learning about the world and interacting as much as possible with other people. He is even taking swim lessons at the local YMCA and doing great!

“It has been wonderful to get, and stay connected with other people and Son-Rise parents from all over the world. My son’s progress had already come very far, but now I truly believe we can go all the way!”

Jeannie wrote.

Stuart Reid then attended the Empower Yourself course and brought home a new sense of clarity, balance and personal power. He shared his new empowerment with Jeannie and she in turn gained in confidence, strength and enthusiasm. Their own relationship began to flourish anew, as well. Life-altering changes were happening for Jeannie and her family.

Jeannie journeyed again to Sheffield, this time for the Fearless course at The Option Institute to help her recognize and overcome her personal obstacles. Jeannie wanted to continue her amazing journey as she had found using the techniques she learned in The Son-Rise Program and in Fearless had absolutely changed the lives of everyone in her family.

But, because the Reids’ finances had been seriously stretched by then, their next steps were put on hold. Then an amazing event changed everything. Jeannie’s college roommate and lifelong friend decided to start a Son-Rise Program scholarship fund for people from the Cleveland area. Since then Jeannie has been able to move ahead with her courses, taking Radical Authenticity, Son-Rise Maximum Impact and Son-Rise Wide Awake ... and eventually she became a Certified Group Facilitator.

Jeannie Reid’s story is about wanting BIG and making it happen. She is about to embark on her renewed private practice as an art therapist, and plans to be a super advocate for The Son-Rise Program in her area. Her wonderful new life is a product of her persistence and belief, and of the wheels she helped set in motion for others when her friends learned of how she and her family had been impacted by The Son-Rise Program.

“I know I will be able to give back by helping others, and that will be the top of my personal mountain! Thank you to everyone who donates! You are making a big difference in the world!

Jeannie Reid


Dear Donor

Two years ago, Antonio's kindergarten teacher told us something was not quite right with our little boy. He was not socializing, he somersaulted all the time and hardly spoke at all. At the time I was working for a municipality close to Florence, Italy and basically I had nothing left after seeing to basic necessities.

In the meantime, I looked up Autism with Google and as I was also looking for happiness and personal growth, I was guided to The Option Institute, thence the Autism Treatment Center of America. I read up as much as I could and started trying to apply the “Happiness is a Choice” suggestions. I'm not quite good at it but it has helped me with attitude, and everything else that seemed trying is really different after all this.

When I decided to come for The Son-Rise Program Start-Up, I really had little or no money to pay for it. I spoke to my friends, old and new. My mother helped me, friends I thought couldn't [help] tried their very best and the scholarship did the rest.

What the scholarship did was give a HUGE boost to my fundraising. About six friends contributed the rest, at the travel agency a very kind lady who I may now call a friend helped me some more. I am overwhelmed with gratefulness. Here I am, happy to have attended the Start-Up program and looking forward to learning more and praying to God for guidance.

So the gist of the matter is, I am a happy mum who hopes to implement a wonderful relationship with her child and is riding a not so easy moment with lots of hope in her heart and THANK YOU is not enough for what I feel. I still remember William's words, “If you do what you've always done, you will get what you've always got.” Now I'm trying to do different, bit by bit, day by day. I feel the difference already.

About Antonio ... we are going on with the Italian program and I play with Antonio after school in a quiet room in the house. Knowing what the little guy is exposed to (he's always putting his fingers in his ears and he seems to have problems with too much light in his eyes), I find him very brave as he bears it tolerably. Drums a lot to digest it all.

When we went to the doctor, just weeks after starting the program at home, she told me that she found him more attentive. His attention span has increased. He is also tagging or pulling at one's arm when looking for attention. The child psychologist last Saturday reported the same thing and what's more, my son has always required that I enter the room, hence assisting in every session. Well, this time he went in along with the doctor and told me, “See you later.”

At school, his teacher who speaks English as well, read up and watched my DVD (Kyle’s Journey, Jade and “I want my little boy back”). Now she's changing, bit by bit and I do appreciate that very much. He seems to be OK with her and actually sent me away from class this morning, again telling me, “See you later.”

He is now ONE HUGE GREENLIGHT and I'm hoping to be able to really have volunteers (still looking), raise funds and settle down to business.

God bless,



Dear Donor,

I am the mother of three children, all on the Autism Spectrum. Before I heard of the Son-Rise Program and the Option Institute, I was a desperate, angry and depressed person…. I was on Anti-depressants, sleeping multiple hours of the day, and for a period of time, using alcohol to run away from my pain.

Then I heard of the Son-Rise Program. I called to find out more about it and thought “this if for me!” But I could not afford it. You see raising one child with Autism is very expensive but raising three is just outrageously expensive with all the therapies and dietary interventions that we were doing.

But I was offered a full scholarship to the SRSU program. I have since attended all of the Son-Rise Programs and many of the Personal Growth programs offered by the Option Institute.  Each time I have been given a scholarship and each time I go I learn more about who I am and I change for the better each and every time.  Because of your most generous support, my children are recovering from Autism, I have found happiness in my life!  I am no longer on anti-depressants and I have so much more energy.

YOU are the reason that my family is in recovery. It is because of YOU that my oldest son now is enjoying school.  YOU are the reason my second son is speaking. YOU are the reason my daughter is no longer as rigid and controlling as she once was.  Thank you does not even begin to cover how much gratitude I have for you.  I thank God every day for you and I do not even know you.

Please know that you are changing lives with your donation to ATCA and the OI.  It is because of you that every day people are getting the help that they need. Thank you, thank you and thank you!

With so much love,

Kerry Rihtar