10 Life-Changing Facts About Happiness

life-changing facts happinessNote: This post is part of the Life-Changing Facts series. Check out the other posts on fear, attachment, habits, and healing the inner critic.

“The moment you move out of the way, you make room for the miracle to take place.”
~Dr. Barbara King

The number one desire for most people on this planet is to be happy. And I don’t mean the silly-smile-on-your-face version. True happiness is a deep sense of well being, the capability of abiding in a state of ease and peace that is present no matter what. Happiness is a way of being that can permeate every moment of your life.

The Problem

But for most of us, happiness seems to be elusive. Instead of simply being happy, we play out conditioned habits that distort our thoughts and bring drama and disappointment to our lives.

If you want to be happy – reliably, completely happy – then you need to see in great detail how your thought patterns and emotions make you unhappy. When you stop feeding unhappiness, you will realize a simple fact: you always have the option of being happy.

The Facts

Are you ready to get serious about happiness? Then consider these 10 life-changing facts. Contemplate them and apply them diligently to your own inner experience. You will know the happiness you long for.

1. Enduring happiness is possible. This is the essential starting point. You can have faith that enduring happiness is possible. How do I know?

I used to live with lots of inner struggles, wondering why I couldn’t be happy. Years ago, I heard about the possibility of ending suffering. I didn’t know how to achieve it, but I was set on fire to find out.

Now I know. If you make the choice to live a conscious life in every moment and investigate how you get in your own way, enduring happiness is possible.

2. You need to get serious about happiness. Moments of happiness may appear, but if you want to be truly, deeply happy, you need to get down to serious business. The power of habits is strong, so happiness takes a great willingness to be aware.

Make the commitment to happiness, keep it alive in every moment, and you will see results. Guaranteed.

3. If you rely on unreliable objects for your happiness, you will not end up happy. What is an unreliable object? A person, a situation, the future, a house, possessions, money, status. None of these can offer you a guarantee of happiness because they are outside your control.

And if you place your happiness in the hands of something you don’t control, you have set yourself up for disappointment.

Don’t look for happiness in anything outside yourself. Instead, turn your attention inside. Shed the habits and patterns that keep you unhappy, and you will discover the wellspring of happiness that is always here, unrelated to any objects or circumstances.

4. If you want to be happy, look at how you make yourself unhappy. Happiness is your true nature. It is here, always available, but is masked by your conditioning. If you want to know happiness, these automatic habits and patterns need to be untangled.

Don’t wait for happiness to miraculously appear in your life. Notice when you are unhappy, and investigate:

  • What are you thinking?
  • What are you believing?
  • What emotional reaction has captured you?

Become an expert in how your conditioning works and the ways it affects you. You will see that these habits are stressful and depleting. Then, you are faced with a choice. Make the commitment to no longer feed them with your attention. They don’t serve you anyway, so let them soften and dissolve.

When you stop buying into the patterns that make you unhappy, simply relax and feel the sense of well being that is possible.

5. Happiness breeds more happiness. When you incline your thoughts, feelings, and actions toward happiness, you create a happiness momentum. How to do that? Don’t be afraid to be happy.

Orient your life toward situations and people you enjoy. Notice what is already working, rather than what needs to be changed. Open your heart to recognize your many blessings.

6.Happiness is always present and available. You can spend a lifetime trying to work out your past so you can feel resolved. And sometimes these tangles need attention.

But don’t put off happiness one more second. Don’t delay happiness by thinking things need to be perfect before you are happy.

Instead, go deeply into the direct experience of this present moment, right now. Let all boundaries and mental structures collapse, including the idea that you are a separate entity in this vast universe of love. This is the doorway to the enduring happiness you are searching for.

7. Happiness is a word that refers to a state that can’t be defined in words. Many words point to happiness – peace, ease, well being, love – but none of them defines it accurately. True happiness is a state, an experience. It is life itself, the essential reality of all things.

Just for one moment, let go of your idea about what happiness is. In fact, let go of all ideas about everything. Drop any words, and notice what is actually here in your direct experience – the peace beyond peace. You have come home.

8. A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. These are the words from a recent research study that shows that people spend on average half of their waking hours thinking about something other than the task at hand and that these wandering thoughts cause unhappiness.

When you realize that your mind has wandered, shift your attention into the present. Simply see, hear, taste, touch, and breathe. Experience reality as it is unfolding right in this moment. There is no struggle here, only peace, ease, and happiness.

9. Thoughts undermine your happiness. Become very knowledgeable about the kinds of thoughts that undermine your happiness. Then, when you notice that they have taken hold, relax your attention away from them. Make a vow to say “No” to the thoughts, and say “Yes!” to happiness every time they appear.

These thinking patterns can’t possibly support you in being happy:

  • Self-criticism
  • Compulsive worrying
  • Regrets about the past
  • Stories of how you have been wronged
  • Thoughts about how things should be different than they are.

When they are present, you will know, as you feel heavy, tense, and depleted. Now you have the chance to make the essential choice. Just say no, every time. And as you do, you dip into the endless well of happiness that is here in this very moment.

10. Happiness is a choice. There are many things in life you don’t have control over, but you do have a choice about where you place your attention. You can feed stories that keep you afraid, despairing, and emotionally upset. You can convince yourself that you are unworthy of happiness. Or you can move your attention to the truth of what is present now.

I know these mental habits can be intense and consuming. But truth is more powerful. Love is designed to heal. Every time the habits arise, shift your focus to the present. Again and again and again. See what is actually true. Live here, and be happy.

What interferes with your happiness? I’d love to hear…

Note:  I love the work of Tara Mohr. Tara has recently released a book of her amazing poetry with the most beautiful images, which you can find here.

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35 Comments

  1. Posted November 22, 2011 at 2:22 am | Permalink

    How to gain, how to keep, how to recover happiness is in fact for most men at all times the secret motive of all they do, and of all they are willing to endure. ~ William James

    • Posted November 22, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the quote, Stan, and for stopping by.

      I don’t disagree with the quote, but I do know that happiness can’t be recovered if we keep trying to gain and keep. Seeing through these needs and desires clears the way for happiness to be experienced.

  2. avatar Bonnie Perry
    Posted November 22, 2011 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    I just want to say, Gail’s suggestions of practical clarity DO work. If there is anyone reading these posts suffering with what seems to be an unfulfilling life and is intrigued by the possibility these post suggest……..JUST DO IT!! Just do it, just do it, and just do it again! If ever that old Nike sports adage should be applied (and I’m probably showing my age here) this is it! Sure, difficulties still happen, aches and pain still happens, but, ironically, the difficulties and pain becomes much less difficult and painful. The depth and richness of this process can only be experienced firsthand. No imaginings about it will deliver the goods. Put aside your doubting ideas and concepts and experiment with it for yourself, directly in the difficult moments of your own ordinary life (probably just when you are least open to trying it, but don’t let that stop you)…….and see if you don’t in fact uncover what you’ve been looking for about yourself all along.
    This is Thanksgiving week – just DO IT and say Thank You to yourself!
    Grateful,
    Bonnie

    • Posted November 22, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      Oh, Bonnie! What enthusiasm! I love it!

      It’s a joy to hear your celebration of freedom. No one can control when or why the fire gets lit, but you are on fire! Thank you so much for sharing it here – so beautiful to see.

      Love to you…

  3. avatar Clare
    Posted November 22, 2011 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    What interferes with my happiness? I interfere with my happiness.

    • Posted November 22, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      This is truth-telling, Clare, and I appreciate your honesty. Just as you interfere with your happiness, you have the power to free yourself. Any moment is a gateway.

      Sending love…

      • avatar Clare
        Posted November 29, 2011 at 9:28 am | Permalink

        Thank you. I do recognize that happiness comes from within and that just as I can sabotage my happiness I can also foster it. It is a choice.

        • Posted November 29, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

          Yes, Clare! And may you foster happiness as much as possible…

          Love to you…

  4. Posted November 22, 2011 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Thanks Gail. I find that the more I turn my love and attention inward, just as you say, the more I realize that happiness in the sense you describe it here is forever present. Feelings come up, of course. But the happiness doesn’t seem worried at all.

    It’s my true nature and getting re-acquainted with my true nature is the greatest joy I have ever known.

    • Posted November 22, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      You mention an important point, Chris, similar to something Bonnie said.

      Happiness doesn’t mean that feelings don’t arise or that troubles don’t occur. But, as you say, the happiness doesn’t seem worried. Even in the midst of significant pain, something remains untouched and totally at peace. That is what we are looking for – and what you keep finding over and over.

  5. Posted November 22, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Gail,
    As Michael Bernard Beckwith says, “Energy flows where attention goes.” When we place our energy on being happy, then that is what we will receive in return – more happiness. This is all achieved by being as present as possible in our daily lives.
    All the best,
    Jeanette

    • Posted November 22, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Jeanette. This is a beautiful testament to what is possible for everyone.

  6. Posted November 22, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Hi Gail,
    Thankyou. Being aware of what thoughts make us unhappy & then turning that around is a big key for me. My mind wanders a lot, I am aware and am now having some success in controlling this. If you are aware of your thoughts you can then make choices, you have to be aware.
    be good to yourself
    David

    • Posted November 22, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

      I’m so glad for this report, David! It’s an important step to be aware that your mind is wandering – then a range of choices opens up. Yes, it all starts with awareness. When you notice the mind wandering, all it takes is a breath and a shift of attention to the now. A million times, if necessary. This kind of attention shift relaxes the momentum of the thoughts.

  7. Posted November 22, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    i think that hit home with me. my thoughts prevent my own happiness!
    thanks for the reminder Gail

    • Posted November 23, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      Yes, Noch. It’s that simple. When we really notice the thoughts, see what they tell us and how they make us feel, it becomes very clear. They usually don’t bring happiness. This is a huge insight that shows the way to being happy.

  8. Posted November 23, 2011 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    What a wonderful and wonderfully important post, Gail!

    I truly believe happiness to be one of the most important topics. So much good stems from it. Studies have shown time and time again that happy people join more good causes, give more charity, make better parents and so on.

    So I was particularly excited when I read this: “You need to get serious about happiness.”

    So true! It really is a serious subject and deserves a serious effort at developing those traits and characteristics of thought and attitude and action that produces it.

    Thanks for the post, Gail. Well done!

    • Posted November 23, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      I appreciate your kindness, Ken, and I feel your happiness coming through your words.

      To be truly happy means to take the topic and the process seriously. It doesn’t just happen by a miracle, as you probably know – happiness is possible for all of us, if we are willing to get serious about it.

  9. Posted November 25, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Hi Gail.

    Happiness sure does breed more happiness. They add onto eachother like boom boom boom boom. They are enumerative, I think is the word, or maybe it is to say that they build on themselves like a multiplicative progression. Something like that.

    A wandering wind sure is an unhappy mind. Focus has brought me many good things and future focus will bring me more. My mind wandering = my worst enemy.

    I also like solid periods of unhappiness. They keep me grounded.

    • Posted November 25, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      Hmmm…interesting, Armen, that you like not being happy at times because it keeps you grounded. I know I have learned a ton from times when I wasn’t so happy, so I am grateful that they came my way.

  10. Posted November 25, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    I totally agree with #3. When I started taking more responsibility for my own happiness, the happier I became. No one or nothing is a requirement for my happiness, they/it supplement my happiness.

    • Posted November 25, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to you, Lea! Thanks so much for stopping by.

      It’s wonderful to hear how much it helped you to start taking responsibility for your happiness. As I’m sure you know, happiness isn’t a mystery, and we have more control over it than we think.

  11. Posted November 28, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Hi Gail, I love this post. It is a great call to be active about bringing happiness into our lives!

    I, too, love it when you said that we need to get serious about happiness. This is definitely not a passive state…. it is a action that we must take for the health and wellness of our beings as well as the health and wellness of our loved ones.

    In addition, thank you for sharing the link to the study about wandering thoughts and unhappiness. I love it when science proves the obvious …even to the oblivious.

    We are all hear to live and learn…. and if we do it mindfully and steadfastly, we can find happiness in all things.

    Thank you for sharing this refreshing post.

  12. Posted November 28, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    Great post Gail. yes, happiness is choice. I like the way you bring in wandering thoughts. When we focus on the work or play in front of us we do find happiness.
    Also I feel that when we generate love to others, this bring more happiness to us. Love bring out the best and just warms the heart.

    Thank you again for the reminders in finding happiness.
    Blessing to you,
    Debbie

    • Posted November 29, 2011 at 6:29 am | Permalink

      Hi Debbie,

      You make an important addition here about loving others bringing us happiness. When we give generously in all ways, it comes back to us a million times over. In the state of true happiness, there is no holding back.

  13. Posted November 30, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Coming late to this discussion, but you know this is right up my alley! Another one of your articles I’m printing and filing!!

  14. avatar rachel
    Posted December 5, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    What interferes with my happiness is lost love. It is hard to see how I am going to feel better, though I am familiar with the literature of grief recovery and things such as the topics you address. Thanks for trying to help us all. I am so sad.

    • Posted December 5, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to you, Rachel. I’m so glad that you stopped by and left a comment.

      The root of your sadness is in the stories you tell yourself. Recognize these stories as just that – stories, and see the effect that they have on you. Focus your attention on what serves your happiness. It could be the smallest thing to start, such as someone asking you how you are or savoring your cup of coffee in the morning. Orient your mind and heart toward happiness, and the sadness will begin to dissolve.

      I know what you mean by lost love, but in truth, love can never be lost. When you let go of the story about what you are missing, you will see that love is here, right now.

      Take good care of yourself in every way. You are supported beyond measure.

  15. Posted January 11, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    I totally agree with point 10. It took a while to get the point. One always believe that it is the environment which would make one happy or unhappy. I try to not to let myself be carried by troubles, critics. sure, it affects. It used to be that a single negative word would get me off or kind of make the world crumble inside. I never realised that happiness was a choice and it is always in the “now”. But of course, it also takes time, anger, frustration, stupid people and remarks will always come one’s way, but the choice is there to be happy.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to you, Davek.

      What is so important about your comment is that you show that it is possible to recognize that happiness is a choice, then we can begin to make that choice. This is so inspiring for everyone. We can recognize the power we have. Happiness is always available – it is a choice away in every moment.

  16. avatar Lolita
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 5:13 am | Permalink

    Thank you very much for this post. I am continuously struggling with being happy and have a wandering. I really identified with this part
    Self-criticism
    Compulsive worrying
    Regrets about the past
    Stories of how you have been wronged
    Thoughts about how things should be different than they are.

    God bless you for this wonderful post.

    • Posted July 25, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

      Thanks so much for your comment, Lolita. Know that happiness is right here – and possible for you to realize. Move your attention away from all the difficulties, and you will discover that peace is closer than you think.

      Love and support to you…

  17. Posted May 5, 2013 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    My brother recommended I would possibly like this blog.

    He used to be entirely right. This submit truly made my day.

    You cann’t believe simply how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

One Trackback

  • By 10 Processes to High Spirits on December 25, 2012 at 8:04 am

    [...] story and guidance at 10 Choices for Happiness Related Reading: Related Articles:Happiness Comes CheapSexual SatisfactionHappiness Comes Cheap [...]

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