In the pursuit of happiness, we often find ourselves longing for a state of complete bliss, inner peace, and unwavering contentment. We long for happiness that remains unscathed by the ebb and flow of external events.
But here’s the dilemma:
in our current reality, our happiness tends to be contingent upon external factors. And it’s exactly that conditional happiness that blocks the happiness that we’re truly after; unconditional happiness.
It is time to delve into the intricacies of these two types of happiness—the one we seek and the one that blocks its attainment. Come along as we explore the true nature of happiness, and uncover the profound impact it has on our overall well-being.
A disaster waiting to happen
There isn’t a single individual who doesn’t desire happiness. If you could experience unshakeable bliss, a sense of peace that knows no bounds, and a serenity that is limitless at this very moment, without any hesitation, you would undoubtedly seize it.
Our yearning for happiness surpasses all other desires. The actions we take are driven by our pursuit of happiness. Why else did you attend school? Why did you seek employment? Why did you start a family? Why do you engage in hobbies? Is it not for the sake of happiness?
Now, imagine losing your job. How would you feel?
Consider the sudden passing of a loved one. Wouldn’t it shatter your happiness?
Picture being unable to partake in your favorite activities any longer. Wouldn’t it disturb, pain, and frustrate you?
We have lived our entire life being completely dependent on external events. If we don’t have a satisfying job, it affects our happiness. If someone treats us in an undesirable way, disrespects us, lies to us, deceives us, takes advantage of us, and so on, our happiness takes a substantial blow.
Any misfortune that befalls our possessions or belongings, our happiness is again affected. And let’s not speak about what would happen to our happiness if something were to happen to our children, our spouse, or others who we hold close to our hearts. Even the thought alone can send a shiver down our frail spines.
How we’ve given away our happiness
Despite our inherent longing for unconditional happiness, we find ourselves trapped within a profound paradox: we relinquish our happiness to others.
This relinquishment extends beyond the influence of a single individual and encompasses every person we encounter—family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and even strangers. That’s why any given person has the power to make us either happy or unhappy.
Anybody who helps us, stands by our side, or behaves in the way that we want them to behave, makes us happy. But anybody who dares do the opposite, well, they can ruin our happiness just like that, can they not?
When your child crosses the street, and the driver of an oncoming car gets distracted by his phone for just a fraction of a second, is that not enough to destroy your happiness?
We place our happiness in outside objects. Now if someone scratches our car, we get mad. If someone damages our property, we get filled up with anger. If someone takes something that belongs to us, thoughts of kindness and compassion turn into harmful thoughts of ill will and hatred.
The moment things, people, and events behave in ways that don’t align with our desires, our happiness slips away from underneath us, fades away, and sometimes gets completely crushed. All because we have given away our happiness ourselves.
Honestly, are you genuinely able to accept that? Are you comfortable with being like a ball in a pinball machine subject to being pushed around at any moment?
Or do you wish to change all that?
We block our own happiness
The moment we place our happiness in outside things, people, and events, we engage in an unending pursuit, convinced that we will eventually discover it.
The enormous irony is that this very pursuit effectively blocks the happiness that we’ve been seeking all along—the happiness that is not dependent on anything.
The root of this issue lies in our views and perceptions. This is a complex and multi-angled topic so, for the purpose of this discussion, I’ll attempt to keep it as simple as possible. However, I have to elaborate on this in other articles because it’s a pivotal piece of the puzzle to develop true happiness.
Instead of “the views and perceptions we hold,” it would be more accurate to say “the views and perceptions we hold in our minds.” Many of our thoughts are manifestations of these deeply ingrained views and perceptions. Thoughts arise spontaneously without our control when triggered by sensory input.
Please allow me to provide a few examples to clarify this key point.
The root of unhappiness: views and perceptions
Imagine the following scenario:
One day, Martin and Ronald decide to grab a coffee together. As they engage in pleasant conversation, to their surprise, Jake unexpectedly walks into the coffee shop.
Jake happens to be a good friend of Martin. Unfortunately, Ronald and Jake can’t stand each other.
In that split second, when Martin spots Jake, a genuine smile instantly brightens his face. However, Ronald’s expression quickly turns sour.
It’s important to note that neither of them can consciously control the initial thoughts and emotions that arise. This showcases the remarkable speed at which our minds operate. We have no conscious control over this process. As soon as the mind comes in contact with a sensory input – in this case, a sight – thoughts arise in response to that input.
If we could control this initial process, we would never allow miserable thoughts to rise to the surface now, would we? After all, miserable thoughts lead to miserable feelings and that’s not what we desire.
Our ultimate goal is happiness. Similarly, Ronald would never willingly choose to feel upset. Why would he want to ruin his mood? He was enjoying himself just fine prior to that moment.
The reason why Ronald and Martin have completely different thoughts arising is because of the views they have in their minds. Martin has a positive view of Jake, hence positive thoughts arise in an instant. Ronald has a negative view of Jake, so negative thoughts emerge instead.
Let’s use another example.
Ria grew up with an abusive father. He happened to have a lot of tattoos on his arms. Ria grew up resenting her father and the way he looked. Any tattoos she saw on other people would remind her of her father and would make her feel sick to her stomach.
One day Ria decided to explore online dating. She met someone with whom she instantly connected, forging a strong bond through regular heartfelt conversations over several months. However, residing far apart presented a challenge, as they had yet to make plans to meet in person. But fate intervened when Ria’s virtual companion happened to travel to a nearby town for business.
Seizing the opportunity, they agreed to meet for a lunch date. Ria experienced a mix of nervousness and excitement, which naturally reflected the content of her thoughts. Arriving at the restaurant, Ria spotted her date, who eagerly stood up, waving with a broad smile. Filled with anticipation, she approached him, sharing a brief hug before taking a seat together. Ria was filled with joy.
As her date removed his jacket, he exposed a plethora of tattoos on his arms. A flood of unsettling thoughts came into Ria’s mind, leaving her perplexed and confused. She didn’t want to feel this way but she couldn’t help herself.
Ria had already established a strong connection with her date. The fact that she felt uneasy was because of the beliefs she had in her mind since her childhood. If it were possible for her to simply discard those thoughts and emotions and continue with her life, she would have undoubtedly done so a long time ago. And otherwise, she would have done it right there in the restaurant.
Ronald and Ria both had negative views, or beliefs. Negative views can only result in thoughts that align with those views. If someone is of the belief that men with beards are not to be trusted, their mind will naturally generate thoughts of distrust when they come across such a man.
Similarly, if an individual believes that people from a specific country are exceptionally beautiful, their mind will consider that country as a viable option when choosing a holiday destination.
Finally, drawing from personal experiences, whenever I mention that my wife comes from a region renowned for its remarkable housewives, others tend to form thoughts associating my wife with exceptional culinary skills and cleanliness. (Just between you and me, her cleaning skills have room for improvement).
It’s not their fault for any of those thoughts entering their minds. It’s simply how minds work.
There are two points that are crucial to understand here:
- No matter what we hope for, thoughts arise according to the views and beliefs in our minds. This is like dipping bread in soup: the bread can’t come out without taking on the soup’s color. If it’s tomato soup, the bread will be reddish-orange. We might want the bread to stay white, but that’s not how nature works.
- Views can be changed. And that is the best news you could ever get because it’s an essential part of developing unconditional happiness.
True happiness lies in the right views and perceptions
Here’s how that leads back to happiness.
The reason we incessantly pursue happiness, and consistently strive to align all the things we believe we need in order to be happy, is rooted in the view our minds hold of happiness, the view that this is the way to achieve it.
That means when we see tasty food we get excited, and when that food is taken away from underneath our noses or the food doesn’t taste as we expected, we feel disappointed. Those thoughts and feelings that arise, only arise because our mind has the belief that it’s possible to be happy through external sensory inputs such as food.
We can connect this to each and every sensory input. Why you do get upset when somebody is not polite to you? You don’t want to feel upset, yet you can’t help yourself because the mind holds the view that happiness is to be found in specific sounds and sights as well.
Being treated with respect and being approached in a polite manner are part of the sounds and sights the mind perceives as valuable.
How long can you go without sex? How does it feel when you go without sex for weeks, months, or even years on end? What if you could never ever have sex for the rest of your life?
I’m not at all implying that you should force yourself to stay away from sex (as long as all parties involved agree to it). What I’m referring to is that you can learn a lot about the views and perceptions that are rooted in your own mind through this question. If the thought that arises is unbearable, then you know exactly what view your mind holds: physical (and mental) pleasure such as sex is essential for happiness.
Mind you, you didn’t consciously choose for those thoughts to arise just now. They arose after I asked you the question. Not because you wanted to but simply because they were a response of the mind to the sensory input that came in the form of a question.
You don’t need to let go of anything
Please don’t misunderstand me and think, even for a moment, that I’m suggesting you should abstain from sex, start letting people abuse you, and never eat delicious food again.
That would be the fastest way to a miserable life. Not because these things are necessary to be truly happy. Far from it. However, you can’t force a view upon the mind. That’s why can’t expect someone who’s upset to stop thinking or feeling upset by simply telling them to stop doing that.
Real lasting change happens only through developing wisdom, or coming to a deep realization of the true nature of happiness. And you can develop that alongside how you live your life right now. There’s absolutely no need to stop doing the things you do now to find a sense of relief or pleasure.
Let me be very clear on this: you should not abstain from any pleasurable activities you’ve got going on in your life. You only have to develop your understanding of the true nature of happiness. There is one exception, though. If you engage in pleasurable activities that cause harm to other human beings, you do need to change as soon as possible.
These activities don’t only cause harm to others but also to yourself. Only an agitated and restless mind willfully causes harm to others. We’ll discuss that in The 2 MUST-HAVES for Unconditional Happiness.
The path to unconditional happiness lies fully in the way we perceive everything and everyone around us, including ourselves. There’s no other way.
At present, everything that we believe is able to bring us joy also has the power to snatch it away unexpectedly. That won’t change if we force ourselves to suddenly give up on the things we believe bring us joy.
Responsibilities are a blessing and an opportunity
No matter what, we have responsibilities to fulfill towards our family, our friends, our work, etc. And we should always live our life with a sense of integrity and try to do what’s right. This will never change.
As you cultivate the right perception that is needed to start developing unconditional happiness, you will find that you will actually become more responsible. We also realize that fulfilling these responsibilities is far from being a burdensome task.
Rather, it becomes an incredible opportunity—an opportunity to cultivate our own happiness while silently guiding those around us. By embodying the best version of ourselves, we become inspiring role models, subtly showing others the way to their own happiness.
How to develop the perception that leads to unconditional happiness?
First of all, please be realistic: to develop the perception that leads to unconditional happiness, it’s essential to understand that it won’t happen overnight or by simply reading a few articles. Just like learning a new language, it takes time and practical application in order to advance. By immersing yourself in the language and using it in real-life situations, you gradually improve and eventually become fluent enough to converse with native speakers or even think in that language.
Similarly, the journey to true happiness requires applying the knowledge you gain in real-life situations. Blind belief won’t help you change your perception; you need to personally see things as they truly are, not as you want them to be.
It’s all about unveiling the absolute truth. The truth that applies to one and all. That’s when true changes start to happen in your mind’s perception, and your thoughts start to get infused with a calm you’ve never before experienced.
If we lack a sufficient understanding of the mind, our happiness becomes dependent on external circumstances, resulting in a life characterized by ups and downs. This occurs because we don’t know any better.
People generally do not willingly choose to experience a down-period. It is only in hindsight, when they find themselves on an upward trajectory again, that they might perceive the previous down-period as valuable.
This perspective arises because they are comparing it to their current situation, which they perceive as positive. However, while they are spiraling down, they would not express such sentiments because they would need to compare it to a desirable state or condition.
We wouldn’t go through any of that if we could experience true, unconditional happiness. (I’ll touch upon this topic more deeply in a future article because there are various intricacies that should be discussed). But we have no choice because we simply don’t know how to experience that.
Therefore, the solution is very straightforward: we bring in the “knowing.” We go from a state of “not knowing” to a state of “knowing,” or from ignorance to wisdom. That’s the exact same thing as developing our understanding and changing our views and perceptions. Keep that in mind.
Therefore, take your time to reflect and contemplate the concepts presented, relating them to your own life’s events and circumstances whenever you can. By doing so, you can verify and internalize these ideas, gradually shifting your perception towards one that leads to unconditional happiness.
Allow me to provide one final example that hopefully illustrates the significant role our views, beliefs, and perceptions play.
Have you ever experienced losing your phone?
Even if that was just a momentary misplacement. If you haven’t encountered the feeling of losing a phone, you can substitute it with another object you find valuable. Please consider how you felt during that moment. When the mind perceives something as valuable, it inevitably generates thoughts of worry, concern, fear, agitation, restlessness, or other unpleasant thoughts to varying degrees.
Depending on your character traits and habits, you may have additional thoughts, perhaps focused more on finding a solution. Nevertheless, even in such circumstances, these negative thoughts tend to persist, particularly if you truly desire to retrieve your phone or valuable item.
In such situations, it proves most beneficial to set aside these thoughts and calmly contemplate a solution. It requires considerable effort to concentrate solely on constructive thoughts, doesn’t it?
As you search for your prized possession, these bothersome thoughts persistently resurface. The mind continues to produce them until it becomes unequivocally clear that further engagement with these thoughts is pointless.
How can you find out? Well, simple. What happens when you eventually find your phone?
Initially, a profound sigh of relief ensues (a phenomenon I’ve started discussing in the articles that follow this “essential” section).
And what follows?
Do the thoughts of worry, agitation, restlessness, and others still linger?
No, they dissipate instantly.
The mind no longer perceives any purpose in holding onto them and willingly lets go. That’s the only way the mind ever relinquishes them. It underscores another reason why you don’t need to worry about the need to let go of anything.
The key point I want to highlight is that when we alter the perception of our mind at the unconscious level, it fundamentally transforms our thoughts and emotions. It addresses the core level where thoughts that disrupt our equilibrium, cause unhappiness, and hinder our clarity and stability reside.
By addressing these thoughts, we remove the barriers that stand in the way of experiencing the bliss and peace we seek.
That means when we lose our phone or other item, we won’t suffer. That doesn’t mean we don’t care anymore. If we need it, we will search for it. If it’s our responsibility to retrieve it, we will do whatever we can to get it back.
However, we’ll do that with a calm and stable mind.
Content and exercises you can expect
I hope that I have been able to convey myself in a clear manner and that it is starting to make sense that our solution lies within the way we perceive everything. If you think that there are points I can communicate more effectively, please let me know in the comment section or write me an email. This will benefit everyone who reads this.
All the content on this website will be directly and indirectly dedicated to transforming deeply-rooted perceptions for the purpose of unconditional happiness. I am deeply committed to this mission and strive to fulfill it to the best of my abilities.
Directly, I aim to achieve this by sharing wisdom-based articles that foster a deeper understanding of the true nature of the mind and happiness. I will supplement these articles with practical exercises, enabling you to put the knowledge into action. It’s all about practical application. The first exercise you can find a bit further down below.
Indirectly, I seek to support the realization of unconditional happiness through additional articles and exercises that create a conducive mindset. These resources serve as a foundation upon which the main building blocks of wisdom can be built. It’s about cultivating the right mindset that guides our thoughts, speech, and actions that support wisdom.
I recommend reading the next article that discusses The 2 MUST-HAVES for Unconditional Happiness. before you proceed with other articles.
To make best use of the exercises that are presented it would serve in your best interest to keep an eye on your ego. The ego will without question surface on this journey and it will be by far the biggest obstacle you will ever face. Any decision you make based on ego is a decision that leads away from true happiness.
The following article in the section of essential reads discusses this obstacle in detail. will dedicate time to writing an article on this because it’s incredibly easy to miss the ego when it sticks its head above the water. The most common form of ego on this path is the thought pattern of “I (already) know this or that.” The “I know” is very effective at preventing you from learning further regarding a specific topic.
Don’t feel bad when this happens to you. It happens to all of us. As long as an ego is present, you can’t actually stop “I know” from surfacing. However, your job is to be aware when that happens and not engage with it any further. I will give more detailed exercises in the corresponding article on how to further deal with it.
Now let’s take a look at the exercise connected to the current article.
See how your beliefs/views influence your thoughts and feelings, and deepen your realization of this process.
During the day we often come across a behavior we dislike. This can be something simple like seeing someone who doesn’t help others hold the door, doesn’t say “thank you” or “please,” speaks in a way that annoys us, etc. The possibilities are endless.
This exercise has two components. For the coming week, commit yourself to being alert to any behaviors you dislike. However, this time you’re going to investigate it like a quality independent scientist.
You are simply going to observe with the goal of establishing connections between the beliefs you hold in your mind and the thoughts and feelings that arise as a result. This is somewhat different from typical mindfulness exercises that ask you to simply observe what happens and then try to remain equanimous with the thoughts and feelings that emerge or observe sensations on/in the body or perhaps your breath.
There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, but that’s not an effective way in order to build up your wisdom.
The first step of this exercise applies to the observation of the disliked event at the moment it happens. Let’s use an example to clarify.
Event: Someone didn’t say “thank you” after I held the door open for them.
Observation: Agitated thoughts emerged. They judged the other person for being rude. They envisioned a scenario where I yelled at them and straightened them out in front of everybody.
Notice here, I didn’t make this personal. I didn’t say “I thought the other person was rude.” These thoughts arise without your control and make you feel agitated. You should not identify with something that is out of your control. This is a somewhat deeper point and it’s much easier said than done, but you should at least be objective for the purpose of this exercise and not make it about “you.”
Try and be objective and state things as they are. That person is not considered rude in many other places on this planet, so you can’t say “They are rude.” That’s simply a mental construct. If we do this exercise in this way, it’s also a lot easier to stay calm and mindful. True mindfulness is about staying rooted in reality, not just being aware of your surroundings or feelings.
Whereas for the first step, we were an objective observer, for the second step, we are going to focus on developing wisdom and link it back to the beliefs we hold in our minds. This can be done right at the spot, but if you’re not calm, a better moment would be to find a moment when your mind has calmed down. You could also do this at the end of the day. Take some time to reflect back on what happened. Now ask yourself the following question:
What belief/view does my mind hold that made these particular thoughts in arise?
Again, the thoughts arose automatically, so we’re not going to make it personal. We’re still investigating things like a scientist. What conclusion can the scientist make? What can be said about the view/belief/perception regarding the disliked event?
The answer, in this case, we can find as follows:
- The mind has the perception that one should say “thank you” when somebody holds the door open for them.
- This stems from a more general belief that people should say thank you when somebody tries to help them.
- When they say thank you or show appreciation, pleasant thoughts and feelings arise.
- When that happens I experience a sense of happiness.
- Conclusion: Because of this belief/perception, when someone doesn’t act in line with this, negative thoughts arise, as I’ve observed today. So this perception causes me to feel both happy and unhappy.
That’s the end of the exercise. Let’s recap:
- Observe a behavior you dislike objectively as if you were a scientist.
- Observe how this results in the automatic arising of thoughts, completely out of your control.
- Establish the content of these thoughts. Be objective and try not to make it personal or identify with them.
- Find a moment when you’re calm and reflect back on the situation.
- Ask the question: “What belief/view does my mind hold that is responsible for these particular thoughts to arise?”
- Conclusion: The belief(s) I hold in my mind have caused me to feel unhappy/discontented/etc.
Tip: it helps to write down your findings. You can even keep a journal if you like which you can revisit later on, e.g., at the end of the week.
Although this type of reflection can go to much deeper depths, as we will explore in the future, in this simple form it is still a powerful tool to discover the true nature of what’s going on. Unconditional happiness is all about unveiling the truth.
When you tie your happiness to external things, people, or events, you set yourself up for dissatisfaction. It’s like always chasing happiness. The problem is the beliefs and perceptions you hold in your mind that this is the way to be happy. But whatever you think can make you happy can also make you unhappy. That’s why anything and everybody has the power to make you unhappy. The moment things don’t go according to plan, you’re miserable.
The root of this issue lies in your views and perceptions. Thoughts and feelings arise according to the perceptions and views you hold in your mind. That means any unpleasant thoughts that arise when you don’t get what you want; you lose what you want; or you get what you don’t want, arise because your mind has the perception that happiness is to be found in people, things, situations.
That’s why the goal is to change the perception of the mind. As you do, those thoughts and feelings will lose power over you, and gradually weaken.
The exercise allows you to establish a realization of how your perceptions and beliefs are responsible for the types of thoughts and feelings you have.
As that realization grows stronger, you’ll find it easier to grasp the concepts on this website and gain deeper insights into the mind. This paves the path for nurturing the perception of unconditional happiness.