Did you know happiness is our natural state? Yet most trade it away. It’s true. So, are you happy? Most aren’t. And when asked, most people say: “I want to be happy no matter what but…” and then comes their trade for unhappiness. Take a look at a few common examples of life situations where people trade their happiness for unhappiness.
People often say, I want to be happy no matter what but….
- I didn’t know my partner was going to leave me.
- I didn’t know I would lose my house.
- I didn’t know my new car would be wrecked.
- I didn’t know I would get sick.
- I didn’t know I was going to be lonely.
Have you measured the cost of living this way? Is it worth it? There is a healthier way to live.
Let’s consider what you think “makes” you happy? Do you have any rules or conditions for happiness? What about when you were growing up? Did your parents have rules to be happy? Too often we expect things to be different such as having the “right”… job, car, house, appearance, college degree, family, fitness, wealth, approval, love, career, etc.
Even when we’re feeling happy, something happens in life that we didn’t expect, and we trade away our happiness and inner peace for upset. If this sounds familiar, are your “happiness rules” serving you? If not, know that you don’t have to live this way.
Have you ever noticed that we’re promised the right to the “pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence, as if our natural state is unhappiness? Yes, we’re taught happiness isn’t already here for us to enjoy. We’re taught happiness is out there somewhere and we must spend our lives chasing it. Yet, this isn’t true.
Unhappiness is a state of mind and real happiness is being free from the mind.
Unfortunately, we’re in the habit of trading away our inner well-being. Being happy matters because it isn’t fluff stuff that just feels good or is a luxury for the rich. Research tells us that happiness leads to a wide range of benefits in our health, relationships, and performance. The scientific evidence is compelling. Happier people have better health, live longer, feel better, and are more productive and creative too. So, let’s take a closer look at what happiness is, what it isn’t, and how we can be happy too.
Happiness isn’t a pleasurable experience or a fleeting emotion…it isn’t a “conditional” state of being, with rules to be happy. Happiness also isn’t a short-term feeling that comes and goes or depends on things outside us.
So, exactly what is true happiness then? It’s an unconditional, permanent, fulfilled state of being. Yes, it lasts and comes from within. It’s not dependent on anything. It’s a deep, lasting inner peace, freedom, and joy that flows out of us in abundance.
If your rules for happiness aren’t serving you, know you have a choice. You can learn to live in a state of being that is free to live in happiness and inner peace all the time.
Because most people are looking for happiness in all the wrong places…they’ll never find it. You won’t find happiness or inner peace by seeking it from the outside…in people or things. Outer expectations will always disappoint us in the end.
The solution is up to us and it’s inside of us too. We can heal the disturbance that’s hijacking our happiness by letting it go, regardless of where we think it’s coming from. Did you know it’s our job to take care of our own well-being…to fill our cup with love and joy in a way that never runs dry?
True happiness and fulfillment are deep inside and overflowing. If you’re willing to do your inner work, in time, it will start flowing out, in an abundant way. Hence, you won’t need to cling to things on the outside to be ok or happy on the inside because your cup will be full all the time.
The transactional way we often live, love, and relate today will no longer be needed because our love and happiness will come from inside and flow out. This happiness turns into a real, authentic, unconditional state of joy in our being that never ends. Thus, the solution is not in the mind, where all problems are created. The solution is to go beyond the mind because the mind and emotions keep us trapped in a psychological world that isn’t real.
So, how can we be fulfilled, be accepting of what is, and not look for our needs to be filled outside of ourselves? It’s experienced by simply allowing the reality of “what is”, where we experience no resistance to life. We must be ok with whatever comes our way…as if we planned it that way. When we say “yes” inside to all of life situations outside, we surrender to the peace within. Remember, all situations are neutral until the mind gets involved. The problems we face are never about the situation; the problems come from our thoughts about the situation.
Next time you experience an upset, recognize that thoughts are not serving you well and observe them rather than getting involved with them. Yes…we can take charge of our mental and emotional well-being, and not be subject to thoughts nor people, things, or the world outside ourselves in order to be happy or whole. It’s empowering to accept life’s situations and uncertainty. We can move forward in a productive way and not be hindered by inner angst. We can even learn to enjoy normal life events and the changes that naturally occur.
As Michael J. Fox said, “My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance,
and in inverse proportion to my expectations.”
Here’s a great litmus test for you. Consider spending time meditating and observing how you experience life situations. You’ll know you’re experiencing true happiness when you no longer react to or resist what happens. This will be your greatest spiritual journey. When you can stop going along with the mind judging life situations as good or bad and allow all life’s events to unfold naturally, you’ll experience real freedom. Yes, you can break free from negative thoughts, emotions, and reactive behaviors that hold you back by allowing them to be what they are, without experiencing the world as a threat.
Knowing that the problem isn’t outside you and you can take authority over it is empowering. You can live a life that’s overflowing, abundant… and one that never runs dry. In this state, you don’t need to fill yourself with stuff from the outside, such as people, problems, things, nor protect yourself from life situations.
Notice, happiness isn’t about life situations; it’s being life itself. Our unhappiness is self-created suffering; it’s inner dis-ease. So, instead, decide now that you don’t want unhappiness anymore; yes…decide you don’t want to suffer. If you can be ok with whatever happens, then what do you think will happen to your unhappiness?
Why don’t you decide to be happy today, no matter what, and find out what happens? The way out of this prison and the way to break free is going through the experience. That’s the cost of your freedom…that’s the cost to being happy all the time.
We all have habits that hold us back. So, do you want to be happy or not? Do you really want to look back on your life and think “wow, I wish I had allowed myself to feel real happiness?” It’s not too late. You can learn to take authority over your life, to overcome these negative thoughts, emotions, and reactive behavior so you can live in inner peace, purpose, and fulfillment. Why not commit to being happy no matter what?
Now let’s practice. Try this next time you feel unhappiness coming on.
- Don’t close your heart in fear or protection.
- Don’t cage yourself in the limited world of the mind.
- Don’t listen to the voice in your head judging and telling you that things aren’t ok the way they are.
Remember, the way out is always through it. Don’t run from it, avoid it, resist it, numb it, or hide from it. That will just prolong the suffering.
Instead of trading away your happiness or inner peace, take three conscious breaths and experience the feeling, feel the perceived threat of not being ok. Remember, these life situations are only experiences, and our thoughts turn them into judgments; they’re not you. Instead, you can separate yourself from the thoughts and observe them. In this way, you can start taking your rightful authority over what threatens your happiness, and not react. Relax, let it come up, experience it, and release it. Keep your attention on your body’s aliveness and out of your head as you allow the trapped energy to pass.
Know that the price to break free is the cost of the pain the threat brings. Again…face it, confront it, and watch it release when you don’t fuel it. Notice, as you practice releasing the threat, the unhappiness will show up less often until it dissolves completely.
Why not give yourself the gift of happiness this year? Be good to yourself, so all the love and happiness will flow out into the world for all to receive.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog. Please share it with someone else. It may be exactly what they need to hear to be free too. Come back for next month’s blog and…
Be patient with yourself as you grow and be proud of how far you’ve come. For more insight, consider reading Chapter 7 “Resisting Reality” in my book: “Breaking Free from the Ego: A Course in Finding and Freeing Yourself”. https://amzn.to/3mC7vO9
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About the Author – Trina Carroll-Houk is a spiritual teacher, counselor, and founder of Breaking Free Boundaries, LLC who specializes in self-awareness, mindfulness, and the spiritual dimension of being. Her goal is to help people improve their quality of life so they can experience inner peace, meaningful purpose, and greater fulfillment. Trina represents a movement focused on helping people release what limits them from living in a higher dimension of spiritual consciousness.
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