Why do we need to apply conditions to our perceived state of happiness?
Can you be happy always, anytime?
I was confronted with these thoughts recently, and finally saw them for what they were: illusion breakers.
Undoubtedly, the first time I saw a quote or meme that stated something along the lines of “Happiness is Unconditional,” I didn’t get it. A line like this evokes one of those mystic, woo-woo Buddhist concepts, spoken from the master to the pupil. In one ear and out the other. A part of me pipes up: “I’m not a monk, I’m a regular person!”
But more and more these words wormed their way in deep. Wriggled and wrought to my heart. I get them now so much more fully and deeply than I ever expected to. A pleasant surprise.
A while back, after the birth of my daughter, I was going through a hard time. I wasn’t depressed per se – I was just despairing a little. Feeling unfulfilled at work. Tight on bills and uncertain of financial security. Unwilling to work harder to make said needed money as I now wanted to be home more and not at the office. Plus, I happened to be blessed with a micro-manager who liked to provoke and push – the very opposite of what I wanted and thought I needed. And to top it all off, a lot of my neuroticisms transferred to my husband, who carried the weight of those residual damages.
I didn’t know what to do.
So for whatever reason, I started writing after hearing a speech at work. And about a year ago, for whatever reason, I felt a pull to blogging. The ‘whys’ of such decisions I still cannot fully articulate, but I went for it.
After starting this writing practice on a regular basis, I finally started seeing and thinking and feeling what this misty concept of ‘unconditional’ really means. About what it means to be happy and satisfied unconditionally.
To have no condition or state of being or thing or person or job or money dictate my state of happiness. And to think this could even happen.
Lately, even with long days at the office, shitty traffic, messy houses and emotional toddlers in my life pretty much every day, I am able to see small moments. To slow down. To breathe.
None of these things or situations cause my unhappiness. Their presence or lack thereof does not determine my state of Being.
For if I tied my happiness to any of these conditions, my happiness has the potential of being yanked away at a moment’s notice. My happiness would be tied to this world, and all the ephemeral things that move in and out of it. My happiness would ultimately be elusive.
These things that we typically tie happiness to – people, jobs, money, health, children, cars, time off, social circles, etc – are things that change in life. They change all the time. They are conditions, and our charge is to exist beyond them.
To BE unconditionally.
So back in my tough days (and they are far from over) I had trouble with this line of thinking. It was so clear to me that money and a more satisfying job would solve everything. Right?
Currently I am still at said job, making the same amount of money, and I am happier than I was.
There might be other reasons for this, but a major part is that I’ve now realized that my happiness isn’t tied to those things. If I based my level of satisfaction on earning more dollars, then my happiness would have the potential to never come – and there is nothing further from the truth.
I have power over my happiness.
Everyday, I sit in amazement and stare at my dog sleeping so soundly on the floor at my feet, ears twitching at small noises.
I kiss my daughter’s head with fervor even if she’s screaming and I’m losing my grip on patience.
I think fondly of my husband and his zest for life that sometimes lies buried underneath self-criticism and doubt.
I recognize my ridiculous wallowing and give myself some space and forgiveness.
I am in awe of this life and all it contains in this perfectly imperfect moment.
And that is my happiness. ❤