In the spirit of coat-tailing on Catherine's article on happiness last week, I wanted to share a chapter from a book I referenced a few weeks back called 'The Untethered Soul', by Michael Singer. In his book, he asks the question:
Do you want to be happy?
If the answer is really 'yes', then say it without qualifying it. In other words, if you say 'yes', then you are saying that you want to be happy from this point forward for the rest of your life, regardless of what happens. What if your answering 'yes' to this question becomes the new filter through which you view your life?
Of course, if you say yes, then inevitably there will be events that will happen in the future like the loss of someone close to you, financial issues, loss of a job, frustrating relationships, etc. But if you say 'yes' to that question, then you must really mean it and you must accept that your happiness is under your control. You might have the urge to qualify it like saying that, 'I will be happy as long as this doesn't happen to me.' That is why it might seem out of your control, but any condition you create will limit your happiness.
As Michael Singer goes on to say, you have to give an unconditional answer. 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. Once you decide you want to be unconditionally happy, something inevitably will happen that challenges you. This test of your commitment is exactly what stimulates spiritual growth.
One technique he shares in the book on staying happy is to understand your inner energies. If you look inside, you will see that when you are happy, your heart feels open and the energy rushes up inside of you. When you aren't happy your heart feels closed and no energy comes up inside. So to stay happy, just don't close your heart.
An example of a closed heart would be to think about a particular person that when you see them you immediately turn to avoid eye contact or even just the sight of them triggers some bad experience you had with them. Like someone that had betrayed you and you never really mended the relationship. That exact moment you see them would be an example of your heart closing. You tense up and your previous negative emotions about this person bubble up to the surface. A closed heart causes blockages. Blockages are issues that we have left unresolved that will prevent us from finding happiness, prevent us from fulfilling our purpose, and prevent us from experiencing deeper relationships. These blockages will usually require lots of therapy and lost time if we allow them to continue to close off our heart.
Conversely, an open heart is when you see your loved one after being away for a while. There exists an inner joy and energy and you are not easily distracted with trivial matters. The more open heart experiences we have help us live a happier life and find the inner joy for which we are all seeking. The exercise for us is that when we experience those people or events that could close our hearts, make the mental and physical decision that you will not let it close your heart. When that person or event happens, you visualize your heart staying open, and say an affirmation in your head like, "I am going to stay open and let this pass through me." You take control of what was a seemingly uncontrollable situation, and you make the choice to choose happiness.
So I encourage you this week to choose happiness and know that it is a choice. When you have events or see people that in that past might have caused you to close your heart, I challenge you to be intentional in the moment and choose to keep your heart open, let any negative thoughts or emotions pass through you, and affirm that you won't allow any blockages to hold you back.
Have a great week!