“Happiness is an inside job.”
As the year draws to a close we’re entering the home stretch of my blog series on The Untethered Soul with five chapters to go! Thanks for hanging in there with me on this spiritual refresher course. In my opinion, these last chapters are the most inspiring and provocative. They include unconditional happiness, nonresistance, contemplating death, the middle way, and the loving eyes of God.
In his chapter on happiness, Michael Singer asks us a simple question: “Do you want to be happy?” I imagine everyone would say yes, of course, if only…(fill in the blank). We tend to put conditions on our happiness. I’ll be happy when I lose ten pounds, happy when I get the promotion, happy when I can afford a new car, and on it goes. But Singer tells us happiness is a choice, a choice that can lead to enlightenment if we drop the conditions.
“If you decide that you’re going to be happy from now on for the rest of your life, you will not only be happy, you will become enlightened. Unconditional happiness is the highest technique there is. You were not put on Earth to suffer. If you want to be happy, you have to let go of the part of you that wants to create melodrama.” ~ Michael Singer
Not surprisingly, many folks take issue with this idea – the idea that we can be happy 24/7, regardless of what life throws at us. I don’t know how realistic it is to feel “happy” in every moment of every day. So I am going to suggest a compromise, based on my own experience.
Let’s replace the word happy with peaceful.
I can envision living a more peaceful life. In fact, using some of Michael Singer’s techniques, I can achieve a peaceful state, regardless of the world around me, by going inward and focusing on the present moment. But it ain’t always easy. For me, it’s more of a process than a constant state of being.
My life philosophy is, living with an open mind, open heart and compassion towards all. It’s a rather simple philosophy in theory, in practice, well, that’s another matter. I make it more difficult when I let the melodrama of my mind have its way, but that’s my choice too. Sometimes I like a little drama, it keeps life spicy. Striving to live a more peaceful life doesn’t mean I never experience drama, or anger, or the full range of human emotions – I do! But through the practice of awareness, I can see my thoughts spiraling out of control and pull back, become the observer, the witness and make a choice. Do I wanna go down this rabbit hole of drama? Or, get my act together and calm down? That’s awareness.
So, choosing peace, or happiness, doesn’t mean you won’t still experience life’s difficulties. You’re simply choosing to see things differently, through the eyes of awareness. Once you’re aware, then you can choose how best to respond.
“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” ~Wayne Dyer
Once again, Singer recommends adopting a daily meditation practice to stay centered. I think he may be right, though – knowing you can center yourself and choose peace leads to a happier life. See how we came full circle just then? LOL.
So this week, as we approach the new year, practice choosing peace, and know that it is your choice. You are not powerless over how you react to what the world throws at you. And if you’re resistant to this idea….well, stay tuned….
Next week: The Spiritual Path of Non-resistance