“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” ~ Aristotle
LESSON #1: HAPPINESS IS NOT A CHOICE…
Contrary to what many on the spiritual path may believe, this idea is spiritual rhetoric. Those of you that are under the illusion that ‘Happiness Is A Choice’ may consider this statement blasphemy.
However, you cannot flip a switch, and suddenly be happy especially while going through major challenges in life. This concept does not fit into what many of us have been taught…especially those enrolled in the gifted program of spiritual studies. Allow me to explain.
I am in no way negating the importance of attitude and choice, but to suggest to someone who is unhappy that you can suddenly be happy…simply by making the decision to be happy, is inviting self-condemnation and shame.
Happiness is an inside job, we can all agree with that. Practicing compassion, allowing time for new perspectives to develop, awareness, growth, and most importantly love of self is essential personal work when you are in the grips of hopelessness and despair, which is par for the course especially when your life ‘appears’ to be falling apart. In reality, growth is never easy and transforming who you are is not for the faint of heart.
Rediscovering your joy while you are in the midst of chaos is not as simple as many would have you believe. You have a big range of emotions. If you are not willing to embrace all of them, you remain trapped in your stories of self-judgment, “I’m not good enough,” or “I am flawed,” which does not allow you to feel what you feel, or you punish yourself for what you do feel, which creates more self-blame.
I have found that people who are the first to tell you that “Happiness is a Choice” have adopted this philosophy as a form of spiritual elitism (“I am more spiritual than you”), or use spiritual bypassing rather than diving deep into oneself to look at what is really troubling….preferring to use ‘spiritual truisms’ to avoid the insights that can only be discovered by diving deep inside self.
“Happiness is not a choice. Even if attaining a state of happiness was as simple as making a choice, telling someone who isn’t happy that “happiness is a choice” is about as helpful as teaching someone how to fish by telling them there are fish in the sea.” – Zero Dean, Author of “Lessons from the Path Less Traveled”
The false representation that happiness is a choice is dismissive to someone in pain, and that someone oftentimes is you! If you believe that you can just decide to be happy and you are not, that leaves so much room for feelings of “I am less then,” and “there is something wrong with me.” Choosing compassion and forgiveness is the most self–loving thing you can do.
“NOT EVERYONE WILL UNDERSTAND YOUR JOURNEY, AND THAT‘S FINE. IT IS NOT THEIR JOURNEY TO MAKE SENSE OF, IT IS YOURS.” – Zero Dean
Why would you want to deny your feelings? …because the truth is scary. It may mean making necessary changes and upheaval in your life. You dislike being uncomfortable, and not knowing who the hell you are as you morph into the new you, so you avoid listening to your heart – at much cost to your sense of aliveness, and to the possibility of having profound new experiences in your life that will alter your perception of life.
As humans, we cling to that which makes us feel secure – the known and the familiar. Most people do not like the feeling of free-falling with no clear direction or plan, so it is avoided at all costs. So, when events shake up our life, we respond with fear and anxiety, which casts a big shadow on our happiness.
LESSON #2: IT IS ESSENTIAL TO ACCEPT LIFE WITH THE KNOWLEDGE THAT YOU ARE NOT IN CONTROL…
In my world, it is not kind, loving, nor compassionate to yourself, or anyone else for that matter, to suggest happiness is as simple as a choice. It takes time, patience, and a committed willingness to embrace your fears (which is very difficult… as you just want your fear to go away) when you are experiencing dark times in your life. Acceptance that you are not happy without self–judgment and guilt are two very important components to emotional well–being and ultimately renewed happiness.
You have a unique journey. Your soul knows what it needs to grow and evolve, and sometimes that requires you to experience less than happy times as you rediscover your evolving needs and values, which are crucial to your happiness.
Surrendering to life by allowing life to take you where you need to go, accepting the mystery, realizing that you know a lot less than you think you did, and relinquishing control are big components to rediscovering happiness. I am not suggesting that you give up your dreams and vision for a larger life, but rather continue to do what brings you joy and feels in alignment with your heart, and let the rest go, trust.
What does it mean not to be in control? Life has a way of shaping you to where your soul is calling for growth. Shit happens and sudden changes shake up our lives, but if you can allow the idea that life is working for you, not against you, it will free you up to allow new awakenings and greater faith in the purpose of life.
We are embodied with an ability to take action steps, but we are not in control of the outcome. Accepting that you are not in control is so very important in dealing with life’s turmoil. This doesn’t mean it is fun, only necessary.
LESSON #3: ATTITUDE MATTERS
What is spirituality if not compassion, love, and the ability to support those who have lost their way? Life is not in our control (we have already established that), but we can decide to surrender to the flow of events in our life with trust and faith… choosing to have the best attitude possible to invite happiness to return. That takes time to develop within yourself after you have been thrown into the pits of hell. You are stronger than you think especially during these times. You must invite, without resistance, all that you truly want…this takes tremendous courage and a strong belief in yourself.
“WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RELIGIOUS PEOPLE AND SPIRITUAL PEOPLE? RELIGIOUS PEOPLE ARE TRYING NOT TO GO TO HELL, SPIRITUAL PEOPLE HAVE ALREADY BEEN THERE.” – Rev. Michael Beckwith
HAPPY PEOPLE IN ECUADOR – I LEARNED MUCH FROM THESE PEOPLE WHEN I NEEDED IT MOST
Please indulge me by allowing me to share a bit of back story. I relocated for the Winter to Ayampe, Ecuador from Southern California from January to March of 2020. It had been an unexpectedly challenging time for me as I became accustomed to an entirely new way of living, after leaving my marriage of 30 yrs., my business of 24 yrs., and moving across the country alone.
Things like no hot water in the kitchen, noisy parties that go to the wee hours of the morning, dog shit in the streets, roads that turn into pure mud after it rains (one misstep and you are on your ass), toilet paper that cannot go into the toilet, loud obnoxious music playing without any consideration to others, and the dilapidated, half-finished homes were all part of the charm.
I FIND THE ATTITUDES OF THE PEOPLE HERE QUITE INSPIRING
Life was simple and predictable in Ecuador. The days seemed to run into each other with nothing remarkable to report. I went there to reconnect with my heart and soul after finding it necessary to tune deeply into the depths of me once again.
The people here radiate a genuinely authentic joy that transcends day-to-day reality. They are accepting of all the inconveniences, not allowing their ideas of what “should be” mess with their happiness. Now my old life seems so far away in the distance, weird and terrifying all at the same time… Away from the hustle of a predictable and conventional life, there is a lovely tranquil feeling of being connected to the land and a slower and more meaningful way of life.
The people and the problems of the world seem to not exist here. The people seem so happy no matter what life brings. I really respect that. I am learning to relax, something I really stink at. Turning off my head requires surgery I think.
What do I really want and need in my life? I am diving deep to find out. I know that more than anything, I seriously want to be happy and that is what success means for me!
I am also learning to be comfortable with myself in a new way. Honestly, I have never experienced long periods of really paying attention to my needs/values in this way, and what is most important for my happiness. My life was about taking care of everyone else as I felt I wouldn’t be a “good” daughter, wife, leader, or mother otherwise.
I am getting to know and learning to love the woman who courageously transformed everything in her life to live more authentically from her heart, to become a more awakened, loving, and conscious individual. And, to rediscover the happiness inside of me again after quite a few setbacks.
On the outside, I had a great life as defined by many cultural standards. So many areas of my life were working so well… I had a beautiful home, a prosperous and joyful business, interesting and fun outlets for creativity, opportunities to swim and bike ride at night (my favorite), great kids to be proud of, mostly because of their kind and compassionate hearts (every mother’s dream), and an ability to create happiness for myself… like dancing and singing in the morning while making breakfast.
But, I decided to change my entire life, getting a divorce after decades of marriage, selling my business of over 20 years that had become rote and boring to me, and moving across the country alone. I got what I wanted, so how could I still be unhappy? My life felt like it was in shambles, but what choice did I have if I wanted to be true to myself and most importantly, HAPPY?
I knew I needed to live a more authentic life, and no longer could I live with my own lies… pretending I was happy with values I had established at 15 yrs. old. I even had myself fooled.
Sounds like a worthwhile venture to those of you who want to live an empowered, extraordinary life, right? “Sign me up,” you say. But, there are a few disclaimers that are important for you to be aware of. So, before you pack your bags for a new life, read on.
So, where is there a problem? When our current circumstances are such that our life has been turned upside down, there needs to be space to grow through it and feel into a new way of being in the world, and trust me that is a most difficult and painful path! If I truly wanted to be happy, what choice did I have? Sometimes things have to fall apart to come back together in a new way.
LESSON #4: INTENTION, INTENTION, INTENTION… DO NOT SETTLE FOR LESS THAN ALL YOU CAN BE
We can CREATE happiness, but how do we do that? Create being the operative word here. We can, and hopefully will, take responsibility for our attitudes, intentions, and choose actions that will be supportive, which are essential to bringing forth a new life.
I had no clue who I was anymore, like so many people before me, that hurt. Leaving my entire life caused me to question everything I believed to be true. My entire life changed as I dissolved into nothingness (akin to the caterpillar turning into the butterfly), waiting for the hope of a good life to return.
I had no idea the journey would be so filled with self–doubt and disillusionment. I learned trust and faith (ongoing lessons), and decided that my life was a co-creation with my source. My heart and soul are leading me to a new life, and I feel I have NO CHOICE but to listen if I want to remain true to myself.
LESSON #5: COMMIT TO CREATING A LIFE WITH SOURCE…GOD, SPIRIT, UNIVERSAL ENERGY. (whatever name rings true for you)
When it is time to follow the calling of your soul, you can ask a lot of questions, but the answers are unclear and confusing… until they are not. You know in your heart that surrendering to the deep inner voice inside of you is the only way you can live once you have made the decision, with intention, to become more of who you truly are. You cannot ‘unsee’ what you have seen.
When happiness and self-love become your priority, the fear cannot live where there is a strong intention and commitment to truth. Commitment to your path is a key element when you have made the decision to reinvent your life. Life responds in ways we cannot understand logically when we set our intentions to be more than we have been and rediscover our inner happiness genie… who is awaiting our readiness to bring about a new life.
AND, HERE IS THE GOOD NEWS…
You have the power and ability to ask what is most important in your life right now. Embracing happiness as a state of being is possible, and not just a concept or ideal to be attained. I want that for you.
For me, I want more than anything to be happy with who I am, recognizing my own self–worth and coming to a place of greater honesty within myself. This is love in action and nothing can bring about the kind of happiness that falling in love with yourself brings. That statement bears repeating “NOTHING CAN BRING ABOUT THE KIND OF HAPPINESS THAT FALLING IN LOVE WITH YOURSELF BRINGS!”
I am here to support and love you on your journey…for your continued happiness, Robin Jillian
To learn more about my personal journey, my memoir “Hugging Trees in the Dark… Finding the Courage to Free the Heart” is now available on Amazon. My past podcasts and blogs can be found at www.robinjillian.com and awakenradio.net. One-on-one personal coaching is available if you would like support with the steps to transform your life.