Happiness is a state of being. It is a way of thinking, a conscious choice. Lots of people think the “pursuit of happiness” is a linear process, so they live in a state of expectancy, or hope of happiness arriving…some day. They pursue, hoping to some day overtake happiness when the conditions are perfect. But you can experience happiness in the present moment, without waiting, if you give yourself permission — in the moment. There is no need to meet any requirement, fulfill any quota, or compete with rivals in order to allow yourself the liberty of carrying unconditional happiness inside you every moment of the day. You are calling the shots here — your life is yours alone to experience. Here are five strategies you can employ to discover and develop the art of unconditional happiness:
Recognize that happiness is available now, in the present moment. One way to increase your “now awareness” is to take a break, a mini vacation, or a sabbatical. Set aside a few minutes during the day to focus completely on the now, the present moment. Relax, and become conscious of your breathing. Channel your mental energy away from thoughts and inner dialogue – allow yourself to simply be here now. Observe your inner and outer environment, without judging anything. Accept sensory input, or the lack of it, as what is, as part of the moment. Listen to the background noise in your office, or the silence, around you. Experience your emotions, your physical sensations, and a sense of your body. Look at your hands, your desk – or close your eyes, if you like. The object of this exercise is to experience life in the moment, unfettered by thoughts of past or future. Consciously relax the muscles in your neck and shoulders, and practice letting go of your tension. You can do this exercise while taking a coffee break, in the elevator, or in a brief moment in your office, door closed if you need it. In the moment, practice smiling, inwardly, outwardly, or both, without feeling the need to justify it.
Choose to think positive, self-enhancing thoughts. Begin by making a list of at least five self-enhancing statements, or affirmations. These statements may describe both skills or qualities you already possess and those you aspire to develop. When you compose this list, make sure you describe yourself in present tense, for instance, “I am enthusiastic about my job,” rather than, “I will be enthusiastic about my job.” Be generous with yourself – be your own cheerleading squad. Read your list aloud to yourself, preferably each night before sleeping. When you read or recite your self-enhancing statements, practice accessing feelings of love, happiness, peace, satisfaction or joy. The idea of this exercise is to become conscious of, and to emphasize, all the attributes you bring with you into your workplace, your thought life, and your personal life.
Choose to observe and acknowledge your feelings. Act, don’t react. The emotions you experience are your choice. Now that you’re living consciously in the moment, begin to observe your emotions as they present themselves. A negative feeling can result from a conscious − or an unconscious − negative thought. When a negative feeling presents itself, for whatever reason, don’t react to it, dwell in it, or waste time trying to inwardly argue it away. Instead, acknowledge it, then dispense with it by consciously employing a powerful positive thought or affirmation. The resulting positive emotion will in turn turbo-charge your positive thought. Now luxuriate in and celebrate the cycle of positive thoughts and feelings.
Know that happiness is not contingent upon people, places, things or events. You alone hold the key to your personal happiness. When you recognize that happiness is a state of being in which you now choose to dwell, you can relinquish your grip on believing that the opinions of others, your status, material acquisitions, or any part of your external environment determines your “happiness quotient.” Of course, prosperity, approval, recognition, and success are good things, but they’re not requirements for happiness. It’s very important that you recognize this, so you can then adjust your priorities. This frees you to explore the power which waits for you in the present moment, the now. You don’t need to strive to meet any criteria; simply turn your attention inward and discover your happiness matrix.
Embrace a sense of moment-by-moment renewal. Each moment presents an opportunity to refresh your awareness, celebrate your strengths, focus your intention, and rediscover your direction and purpose in life. Experience the joy of knowing that every moment is new, vibrant and full of possibility. If you’ve experienced a stressful situation, you needn’t carry it with you throughout your day. Breathe in, accept the energy of the new moment, breathe out, and use one of your self-enhancing statements. Release yourself into gratitude, knowing that in the “now,” this new moment, you hold the power to wash away stress, discomfort, or annoyance. Recognize the choice is yours, and begin “rebooting” your attitude. As you move forward in time, relish the optimism that comes with opting for happiness. Celebrate the moment, and look forward to what’s next!
Harness the power of the moment to choose happiness. Once you recognize the significance of the present moment, you can begin making the conscious choice to be happy. This is not a process of denying the existence of stress at work, a coworker or boss that is difficult or a project that is not going well. It is the process of accepting and acknowledging the existence of beauty, love, gratitude, and happiness, even when pain and problems present themselves. Often people find it easier to accept negative aspects of life than to accept all the positive forces surrounding them. Breathe in slowly, breathe out, and make this declaration to yourself: “Happiness is here, it’s free, accessible, and unconditional. It is mine any time I want it. I give myself permission to enjoy unconditional happiness. I don’t need any obvious reason to be happy! I can experience happiness during times of hardship as well as prosperity, loss as well as gain, difficulty as well as ease. Happiness is the state of my being; it is where I reside!”
Having made your declaration of independence from conditional happiness, start walking the walk. Be mindful of increased options, choosing to think optimistic, kind, loving, generous, and forgiving thoughts as you move through life. Let go of the burdens of self-doubt, of comparing yourself to your coworkers, and fearing the future. The future is born of the present. Begin a love affair with the present moment, consciously accept life as enough in itself, and slip into the joy of being alive. Feel better? That’s unconditional happiness.