The articles provided on unconditionalhappiness.org require a different approach than typical reading material. To fully benefit from your reading experience, there are recommended actions and definite actions to avoid.
1. Scrutinize and verify: don’t just accept or reject
You will frequently hear me emphasize this point, and its significance will become clearer as you progress on your journey toward unconditional happiness. You should never ever simply believe what I say. Be critical and reflect on the words I share. In doing so, you’ll be able to verify them. And that is when they become true for you.
Only the words you can personally verify have the power to penetrate the mind and deeply impact your thoughts and modify ingrained thinking patterns. It’s precisely these thinking patterns that we aim to adjust, not through force, but through realization. Personal realizations are unbreakable.
Allow me to provide a brief example how thoughts are altered through understanding.
Imagine misplacing something valuable to you, like your phone. You can substitute any other cherished item or even a person you deeply care about.
For instance, envision going to the mall and discovering you left your phone in one of the shops you visited.
If you hold the object in high regard, your mind will naturally generate thoughts of worry or unease. The more value you attach to the object, the stronger the intensity of these thoughts and the corresponding emotions. Your mind won’t find rest until it either acknowledges the loss or you get your precious item back.
Suppose you revisit one of the shops and ask an employee about your phone. Learning that they’ve securely set it aside for you will bring you joy. Upon getting your phone back, the once-prevailing thoughts of concern and restlessness will promptly fade away. Remarkably, you won’t need to exert any effort for this transformation. You won’t have to forcibly expel those thoughts from your mind. The mind naturally releases its grip when it recognizes there’s no advantage in clinging on.
It’s not fruitful to merely accept my statements without question, yet it’s also unwise to outright dismiss what I say right from the start. This tendency can especially occur when my words contradict your existing beliefs, particularly if those beliefs are deeply ingrained. This happens because the thoughts that emerge in your mind arise based on your perceptions and beliefs. A very straightforward example of this would be this:
When an ice cream lover walks by an ice cream parlor, their mind is likely to generate thoughts of excitement or temptation. Conversely, a person who dislikes ice cream walking past that same parlor will have indifferent thoughts or even thoughts of disgust rising to the surface. Neither of these people controls that process. Thoughts are generated based on their personal beliefs or preferences.
Whether thoughts of agreement or disagreement arise in your mind, take your time to reflect. The truth remains indifferent to your personal convictions and will always be so. It holds no interest in satisfying or unsettling you. Truth simply reflects reality as it is. Hence, give yourself the freedom to proceed at your own pace, carefully analyzing the information.
2. Be objective
Expanding on the earlier idea, it’s important to highlight that our aim is to reveal the truth. To achieve this, it’s crucial to consistently try to perceive things from an objective standpoint. As you continue to learn, you’ll gradually recognize that a significant portion of the time, your perspectives are influenced by subjectivity.
Let me offer a practical example:
You’re having a big family dinner. There are five dishes on the dinner table. You like the taste of dish A and B. Your spouse enjoys dish B, C, and D. Your mother prefers A, B, and C. Your father gets crazy over B and C. The children savor B and E.
Question: What dish is delicious?
You like dish A and B, so you might be inclined to say that A and B are delicious while the other three dishes are not. However, everyone would agree that B is delicious. So, can we then come to the conclusion that B is definitely delicious?
In order to come to that conclusion, every single person, every single animal, and every single alien throughout the universe would have to experience that deliciousness then. Because what you’re saying then is that deliciousness is an inherent quality of dish B. Obviously, not even every single person will like that dish.
Nonetheless, it’s undeniable that tasting dish B can evoke a pleasurable sensation in your mind. You might argue that labeling the dish as delicious is a personal truth, reflective of your own perspective. But even this is subjective.
Because if B were truly delicious, and able to provide you with that pleasant feeling, it should be able to do that at any given time and you shouldn’t be able to get enough of it. You wouldn’t mind eating the same dish every single night for dinner.
See, in those cases, dish B stops being delicious and starts giving you nightmares instead.
Getting to the bottom of this issue requires a lot more explanation, but my point, for now, is that what you feel is not necessarily reality. In our family dinner example, what would be objective to state is that during that dinner party, while you took a few bites of dish B, you experienced a pleasant feeling in the mind.
When trying to be objective during reading, it’s tremendously helpful if you could ask the right questions:
- “Is this really true? Let me analyze it and try to verify it.”
- “Is this really true? Let me try and disprove it.”
Trying to disprove a concept is often very beneficial. That’s because when you’re reluctant to believe something—and do everything you can to disprove it—and come to the conclusion that the concept must be true, you’ll arrive at that conclusion with absolute conviction. That has a direct impact on the mind’s perception and, hence, the thoughts that arise from that perception.
3. Use your own life examples
One of the best ways to verify something is by running them by your own experiences. I will often use real-life examples, but if they don’t apply to your life, it will be harder for you to relate to them. That’s why it always serves to take a few moments to reflect on your own life’s situations. The more you can personally relate, the stronger the effect on your mind.
4. Don’t speed-read
Speed-reading helps to assimilate a lot of information in a short amount of time. It is great for most reading material. However, it is a very ineffective strategy for articles that require a lot of reflection. It’s crucial to stop here and there and give yourself time to reflect on the material.
Without critical reflection, unconditional happiness cannot be developed. True happiness is a realization. A realization of what’s really going on inside your mind and how it reacts to all these different sensory inputs it’s bombarded with non-stop.
Once you start realizing how the mind truly operates, negative thoughts start losing their control over you. In fact, as your realization deepens, they gradually stop arising altogether. As I’ve explained earlier, the mind “lets go” voluntarily once it realizes that is not fruitful to keep holding on.
5. Be patient (yet determined)
Patience is a virtue. It is a virtue in this case because you can’t force a realization upon the mind. You’re simply trying to create the right conditions for a corresponding effect to manifest. Here’s an example that explains this perfectly:
Imagine you want to make a cup of coffee. What things need to be in place in order for that cup of coffee to be made?
Let’s keep it simple and say you need coffee grounds, a filter, and hot water. After hot water makes contact with the grounds in the filter, you get coffee.
How successful would you be if you were going to close your eyes and wish really hard for a coffee to appear in front of you? Right, you may have to wait for a very long time until somebody offers you a cup of coffee.
On the other hand, how successful would you be in getting coffee once you pour hot water on the coffee grounds? If the water makes contact with the coffee grounds and the resulting liquid flows down into the coffee jar or cup, you are going to have coffee. Not maybe. Not probably. 100% Guaranteed.
Any result can only ever manifest when specific conditions are in place. This perspective also offers another way to look at “objectivity.”
Patience and determination are two conditions that are indispensable for developing unconditional happiness. Without them, it’s not possible to come to a realization. While in some cases a realization might seemingly occur rapidly and bring about significant changes in an instant, the speed and magnitude of such change are heavily reliant on the foundation you’ve already established.
I’ll talk more about this “foundation” in other articles. A good place to start is the essential read The Two Main Prerequisites for Unconditional Happiness.
More often than not, coming to a realization requires people to digest the material over a longer period of time. It’s like sculpting a statue. When a sculptor is meticulously chiseling a block of stone, the exact form they’re shaping isn’t immediately apparent until they approach the final intended shape. Yet, isn’t it true that with each small chip they remove, they move one step closer to their ultimate goal?
Please keep this in mind as it helps with developing your realization of the truth and cultivating an objective mindset.
Progress may not always be immediately visible, yet it invariably accumulates over time. Just as a solitary drop of hot water on coffee grounds might not appear to create an obvious impact, with persistent additions of drops, the outcome inevitably becomes coffee.
Similarly, if you keep reading, engage in reflection, and implement the exercises over time, there’s no doubt that you will not only become a happier person but also a better person that others want to spend time with (refer to two prerequisites). Why? Because you’re actively cultivating the conditions necessary for such a result to materialize.
Everything is possible when you have two of these important conditions in your arsenal; patience and determination. Determination is what makes you advance one step at a time. Many small steps eventually cover a big distance. Patience empowers you to harness that determination optimally and remain steadfast on your path, even if you veer off, allowing you to return to your intended course.
6. Follow the exercises in the articles
I just mentioned exercises. Most articles incorporate an exercise, which can greatly facilitate your progress. This is because exercises provide an excellent opportunity to contemplate real-life situations that are unique to you. While I can’t compel you to do these exercises, I highly recommend that you consider doing so.
If you encounter difficulties, you can always share your experiences or examples in the comments section—this could be beneficial for others facing similar challenges. With that said, it’s important not to pressure yourself into doing an exercise if you feel any resistance. Similarly, there’s no need to impose a strict schedule for completing multiple exercises daily or weekly.
Remember, patience is key. Choose the exercises that generate the least resistance for you. If needed, you can always return at a later time to revisit them.
7. Revisit articles and exercises
Revisiting articles and exercises can be a great way to enhance your understanding. As your understanding grows, you’re going to get more out of the reading. Your ability to reflect on things will increase. You’ll even notice that reflecting on the way things actually are can be remarkably liberating.
8. Reading environment and focus
Ensure you choose an appropriate environment that enables you to fully concentrate on reading and reflecting. A mind that has attained a temporary state of tranquility and is dedicated to a specific task is much more adept and efficient at performing a task.
This holds particular importance when it comes to reading and reflecting, as a calm and focused mind is essential for arriving at a realization or understanding.
Although comprehension can kick in during any period of reflection on a topic or concept, it’s advantageous to establish the right mental state from the very moment you begin engaging with the material. Thus, it’s advisable to minimize any potential distractions around you. This could involve choosing a time of day when disturbances are minimal or setting aside devices that may form a distraction.
9. Check for consistency
The final and perhaps most crucial aspect extends beyond the confines of this website. It involves evaluating the consistency of concepts. No matter who is speaking, including myself, if contradictory concepts emerge, a red flag is raised.
Such inconsistencies indicate a deviation from the absolute truth. They stem from either a distortion or a misunderstanding of the truth itself. I’ll exclude grammatical errors or passages open to varying interpretations from this assessment, as those should be promptly corrected and elucidated by the author, speaker, or source.
In a few instances, the appearance of contradiction may arise because the author has not covered all the different angles on a topic. However, the author should hold the capacity to provide a reasoned and consistent clarification in such cases. An example of a contradiction we discussed in the second point Be objective related to the deliciousness of dish B.
The process of scrutinizing contradictions contributes to the cultivation of objectivity and is an essential tool for cultivating the right perception of unconditional happiness.
- To get the most out of your reading make sure you don’t blindly accept or reject the content; always be critical.
- Try and be objective.
- Use your own life examples whenever you can.
- Take your time, don’t rush through the articles.
- Be patient but also determined to come to a realization of true happiness.
- Follow the exercises in the articles whenever you can, except when you feel resistance.
- Revisit articles and exercises once in a while.
- Choose a calm reading environment with minimal distractions
- Check for consistency among key points and concepts.