I was once in one of those retreats that are meant to be life changing but which can also leave you with a funny taste in your mouth when you realize you have just been put, yet again, in front of your limits.
This particular retreat promised its attendees to be let into the essence of happiness and how we can always ‘take that with us’.
While the teacher talks, I can imagine myself back in the outside world, joyfully smiling at life because I now have the secret of happiness. And I can really feel my heart expanding, and for a moment I think I have finally come to enlightenment.
We are all standing in a circle while the teacher asks each one of us the same question “Do you want to be happy?”
YES! YES! YEEEEEEEES!…is the unanimous answer.
Some people sound more decisive, others still a bit unsure but it’s probably only because they know this is it for them. They have to let go of their unhappiness and it’s a bit like dying really!
Then the teacher asks again the same question, but this time he adds in something which truly makes me want to throw up and run away
“Are you ready to choose happiness no matter what?”
Yes — cough — yes…erhm, yes?
Not many yes answers this time.
“Are you ready to choose happiness even when everything else around falls?”
At this point I know what he’s getting at and I’m not having it.
I have just had my enlightening moment and no way is he going to spoil this.
“Do you choose happiness even when facing death, yours or others? When you lose your job? When your spouse leaves? Or your best friend betrays your trust?”
The teacher is now looking at each one of us now, holding his gaze as to defy us.
Not a single yes this time.
I left the retreat feeling a bit cheated. Surely saying yes to happiness should be enough, so what has that got to do with death, divorce and all the rest of it? I mean, how am I meant to be happy if the world around me is crumbling and nothing makes sense?
Many years have passed. In that time I have come to realize what the teacher meant back then.
Happiness is a “choosing process.”
End of story.
It’s not something to strive for, which will happen when or if.
Happiness is a process which we can do or not do, get better at and eventually master if we want to (Michael Neill).
It happens now, moment after moment.
It’s a choice we make in the stillness of our hearts no matter what.
When we allow ourselves to be happy no matter how we think we should behave in any given moment, then it becomes easy to make this our natural state. So start right now and think of the one area of your life where you feel challenged. Ask yourself
“Do I want to be happy or do I want to be unhappy?”
It is as simple as this really, and there will be days when you find that the bravest thing you’ll do is to keep yourself in a good mood. And if your answer is yes, then ask again…
“What is the one single thing I can do right now to be a bit happier?”
And then just go with it.
You will eventually find yourself returning to your innate well-being more often than before and this will have ripples in your life, for when you spare a smile whatever life is throwing at you, life will always smile back and little miracles will be coming your way.
The miracles of life.
So, are you ready to be part of “the happy gang”?
©Antonia Lyons 2016
Antonia is the founder of Evoking Grace, a coaching program designed to inspire others to be their very best.