“The amount of happiness that you have depends on the amount of freedom you have in your heart.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Who doesn’t want to be happy? Just take a look at any moment of your life, any choice you make. Isn’t your intention to be happy?
Somehow true happiness escapes us. Even though we crave it more than anything, we make choices that distract or wound us. We choose stressful behaviors, unfair views which we see the world, and emotional chaos. In doing this, we interfere with our potential to be happy.
Happiness is absolutely within our reach. In fact, it closer than close – it is the essence of you. How do we discover happiness? Make a study of our thoughts and emotions. See what makes you unhappy, then plant your feet firmly in the land of happiness.
- Take responsibility. Don’t blame others. Don’t turn yourself into a victim. Don’t wait for someone to come and save you. If you want to be happy, take the bull by the horns. Be willing to figure out how you stand in the way of your happiness.
- Exemplify enthusiasm. Be willing, open, courageous, and humble. Admit what isn’t working and be available to the possibility of real inner change. Keep your journey alive.
- Drop your old baggage. Nothing kills happiness more quickly than old hurts, resentments, and grudges. If you are spending your precious time stuck in a sad story from the past, realize that you are being affected much more than anyone else. Wrap all of that pain in a massive cocoon of love, and then move on with clarity and grace.
- Become intensely interested in your inner life. The cause of unhappiness is playing out the conditioned habits that don’t serve you. Find out what they are and use a laser focus to see how they work. With your new-found awareness, make strong, life-affirming choices.
- Question your beliefs. We unintentionally build our lives around inaccurate beliefs and expectations. Put every thought under the microscope for inspection to see if it is really true. You will definitely find that you are living through a blanket of misperception and inadequacy. Be willing to step away from these familiar and valued beliefs and see everything with renewed eyes.
- Appreciate presence. Happiness is found here, in the eternal now – not in the past or future. Relax. Let all struggles fall away, and receive everything just as it is. Indulge in the wonder of your senses as you go about your daily life.
- Study your emotions. Life becomes heavy and troublesome when we are governed by challenging emotions. The medicine for this emotional pain is attention and care. Stop telling yourself stories that fuel your emotions. Rather, welcome the direct experience of the feelings and the perceptions in your body. Let them be without needing to purge them. Over time, they will lose their power over you, and you will be at peace. The clouds will lift, enlightening the happiness you have been searching for all along.
- Live from your heart. Shed every thought, emotion, and habit that no longer serves you. What is left? Love. Let love flood your conversations, activities, and the way you treat yourself. In any moment, ask, “What would love do?” then do it. Enjoy the sweetness of a full and open heart.
- Choose freedom over fear. Fear is another happiness-killer. Know when fear is motivating your choices, and choose otherwise. Meet fear with love. Have the courage to act on what you really want.
- Let happiness permeate your life. Every moment presents the opportunity to be happy. If you doubt me, just take a look at your own experience. When you break it down to its bare soul in the moment, you will realize that a choice is always possible. Nag or be silent, self-criticize or self-love, sustain stress or take a deep breath, prolong a habit or undo it until you just can’t keep it going anymore.
When we are at peace with our own experience, we can’t help but be happy. Nothing is in the way. We see through the haze of broken beliefs and intense stories, leaving us available to intentionally choose happiness – now, and now, and now. Its right here, can you feel it?
Happiness is no longer unknown. Make healthier choices, and the limitless well of happiness will be revealed to you. I know that I am going to be working hard on this right now.