I went to a corporate cocktail party a few nights ago, and being the introvert that I am and deathly allergic to small talk, I decided to skip it and get right down to business. My business, not theirs. Happiness.
I quickly discovered that when confronted with the question, “Are you happy?” people generally have the same two answers, “Yes, but…” and “I’ll be happy when…”
“Yes, but I’ll be happier when I lose these last 10 pounds.”
“Yes, but I can’t wait to close this deal, it’s taken so long.”
“I’ll be happy when I find another job. This one sucks.”
“I’ll be happy when I win the lottery.”
Notice the common theme? There’s always a caveat, a condition, one more thing that could happen to make that person truly happy. And unless that one thing happens, there will always be a “but” and a “when” holding them back from full, all out, no holds barred happiness. No matter what they have already achieved, there will always be at least one more thing standing between them and true happiness.
What’s your “one more thing”? What’s the excuse you use to hold yourself back from experiencing the joy and happiness you want right now?
By projecting the achievement of our true happiness into a certain unknown point in the future based on the realization of a certain condition, also in the future, we are actually denying the existence of it in our present moment. We are the ones standing between ourselves and true happiness, not the condition.
Happiness is not created or found by manipulating and shifting life’s circumstances, achieving goals or becoming worthy of it.
True happiness exists right now. It’s here, while you’re reading these words. It’s real, in this moment. Inside, where it matters. It’s not based on any condition and it’s available to all. For free. Now.
The steps below will help you move internally from where you are to being happy where you are. They will create an internal shift to help you get happy now on your way to wherever you want to go.
1. Be open to the possibility that you can be happy right here, right now, without changing your circumstances. Many will read the title of this article and think, “I don’t want to stay where I am. I will never be happy here. Show me how to get where I want to be, then I’ll be happy.” To those, this article will be nothing more than one of a hundred other articles they skipped in their elusive search for happiness. They will continue to chase their tail, day after day, year after year, without realizing that their tail is attached to them and all they have to do to get it is be still and know that it’s already theirs. To those who are still reading, it means you have come to a point in your life where you realize that circumstances don’t create real, lasting happiness. You may still want things to change, but you know that your happiness doesn’t depend on it. You’re no longer content to chase the tail because you realize you’re the source of the tail, and it already belongs to you.
2. Recognize that your circumstances are not who you are. They don’t define you. When you were born, you entered into circumstances that already existed outside of you. And when you die, you will not take your circumstances with you. YOU, the essence of you, who you really are, exist despite what is happening outside and all around you. Eckhart Tolle calls this your life situation. You are apart from your life situation. If you have no money in the bank, it doesn’t mean YOU are broke. It simply means there is no money in the bank. You are neither the money, the bank, nor the lack. You are still you. Your life circumstance may reflect no money in the bank, but it does not reflect who you are. Separate your life circumstance from your self. They are not one and the same. Do not identify yourself based on any circumstance that may be occurring in any given moment in your life.
3. Differentiate between what is real and permanent and what is illusory and temporary. Your soul, who you truly are, is real. It will never die. Your body, the mechanism through which you experience this time-space reality, is temporary. You think you weigh 200 pounds? No, your body weighs 200 pounds. You weigh nothing. You are light, free and whole. You think you’re a janitor because you sweep floors and get paid for it? No, that’s merely a job you temporarily perform within this societal structure, but it’s not who you are. You are beyond titles, job descriptions and pay grades. Nothing real can ever be valued by something illusory and temporary. Nothing real can ever be harmed. Do not let mass opinion and societal agreements of conformity become more important than who you are. Striving for the perfect skin, the white picket fence or the acceptance and praise of others is merely a distraction, a diversion from the core of what’s real and truly substantial.
4. Commit to unconditional happiness. Release your conditions. Make happiness your goal, not the achievement of an external condition, such as a job, or a certain amount of money, or a physical attribute. You may still strive for things, but they will no longer be reasons you’re not happy. When happiness becomes your priority, when it becomes more important than holding on to your conditions, doors suddenly open, the Universe conspires with you and unseen forces come into play to offer goods bountifully at your feet. Ironically, it won’t matter much because you’ll be happy no matter what, but they will serve as amplifiers to your joy and reminders that happiness goes much deeper than you thought, that there is no limit to the amount and depth of joy you can experience.
(This article also published in the Huffington Post)