For me, fall means hunting. Earlier this month I went on a great trip to Kentucky with my father, and I’m just flying back from another hunting trip in Calgary with the boys. These trips are all about savoring the fresh air, living simply for a week, mastermind with other business owners, and building on already great friendships. I also use these trips to dive back into some of my favorite books and use the quiet of the forest to do deep spiritual work – meditating, thinking, and just being.
This year, I reread two powerful books by Michael A. Singer, The Untethered Soul, and The Surrender Experiment. Now, I read these books years ago and they really changed my perspective and brought a deeper awareness to myself and my world. But that’s the funny thing about books. The message changes based on where you are at in your life’s journey. This time around, the message profoundly impacted me, and I want to share a little with you about what I learned, specifically about unconditional happiness.
Unconditional happiness sounds like a lofty (and unattainable) goal on the surface. But would you believe me if I told you that it really all comes down to a choice? You have the ability to choose happiness. But you must make the choice. The kicker is that there can’t be any conditions or preferences attached to that choice. For example, unconditional happiness means you choose to be happy despite the loss of a loved one or even if you don’t get that raise you were hoping for. If you truly choose to be happy, from the depths of your being, then you must remain seated in that happiness and never close your heart, regardless what events (sometimes downright shitty events) are happening around you. Those are not you. You can remain separate from those events. If you make the choice.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you become an emotionless robot. You will still feel all the feels – sadness, anger, jealousy, joy, etc., but you won’t allow yourself to become that emotion. YOU are watching and experiencing the world. That’s the key. Experience it. Don’t become it. Think about this… the same person that looked in the mirror when you were 5 or 6, is the same person that looks in the mirror now. Whoa. You are the same you. You took on a new physical form and gained more experiences (which, after all is the purpose of life), but again, you are still you.
Let’s talk about that voice in your head for a minute. You know the one. The one that anxiously runs through a list of to-dos in the shower every morning. The one that repeats past conversations with colleagues to try to determine where the miscommunication happened. The one that sees a baby at the grocery store and starts on an internal debate about whether you should have children in this world. Everyone has that voice. But if you can hear it, then it’s a subject/object relationship. Just like when you look at a few objects on a table. You are also “watching” and listening to the voice. In order to see the object, you must not be the object. Therefore, you are not your thoughts.
Then why does it talk so damn much! Because you’ve asked it to. The voice in your mind is simply narrating the world around you based on your preferences and preconceived ideas of what will make you happy. If it senses something unpleasant, it immediately gets to work rationalizing, talking you off the ledge, or categorizing the things around you to make you feel safe. The voice is trying to make sense of everything you see and then control it. You like someone’s car and your mind starts telling you how you can go get one for yourself. You don’t like what someone says? Your mind tells you that that person is an idiot and they don’t know what they are talking about. You don’t like that someone is more fit than you? You mind tells you why they can be fit and you can’t and ultimately leads you down a path of why you are better than them anyway. These are all events. You’ll only be happy, truly happy, when you let go and understand that nothing in the external world will give you what you’re looking for.
You are not your thoughts. Don’t get lost in the conversation in your head. Get lost in the moment by never choosing to close your heart. Ultimately, what will give you what you are looking for is the spiritual work through life’s experiences, struggles, and remaining seated behind your thoughts in that subject/object relationship, what Singer called, “witness consciousness.”
This does not happen overnight. You will slip up. I practice this daily and I’m not even close to realizing witness consciousness. But what I have noticed so far is that true happiness, unconditional happiness, comes from deep spiritual work. And what does that mean? Well, deep spiritual work to me is about overcoming struggles and challenges and serving others, regardless of my expectations of how life “should” be. No one is entitled to anything in this life. Control? That’s a frickin’ illusion. There is nothing in this world that is really within our control… except for choosing happiness. Unconditional happiness is the like the love of your child. No matter what they do, you would never stop loving them. You may not like what they did or agree with them, but man, you’ll never stop loving them at the core of who they are. How come we don’t do that for ourselves and choose to just be happy.
Choosing unconditional happiness has benefits in the business world too. When you choose unconditional happiness you see things much clearer, without the cloud of preferences and conditions. The flow of life just happens much easier. Or, I should say, you are able to accept the flow of life much easier. Things show up exactly when you need them to – people, money, deals, etc. Everything becomes easier because you are not resisting life. You are not closing your heart. You aren’t your problems. You effortlessly solve them.
Having an awareness of the voice (and the subject/object relationship), is the first step to staying centered. Watch the voice talking to you. Realize you are not the voice. You are the one who watches the melodrama of the voice playing out, but it won’t affect you or your happiness. Eventually, you (the you that you have always been) will fad back behind this voice into bliss.
We are not here to get something from life. We are simply here to experience life as it unfolds for us. We are spinning around on a small piece of dirt in the middle of a galaxy. You think you can control your life? Think again. Let go and stay open. Choose to enjoy the experiences of life (without judgement) and enjoy what life provides you. When you choose unconditional happiness, you win.