Personal Development

Find Happiness. Learning to Live Unconditionally

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How would you like to rise each morning expecting the day ahead to be filled with unstoppable potential and joy, feeling satisfied, ready for more, and uplifting others?

What does it take to live like that? Perhaps considering a fresh perspective on things. One notion is to start living without a prescription for the way things should be.

The sages call this “waking up.” They are not referring to getting out of bed in the morning. They are enlightening us to getting out of your own way and the way of others.

Most of us don’t live unconditionally. Ideally, we’d like to, but we don’t really understand what it takes.

What are some of the conditions we live with on any given day?

“I need to have x be a certain way in order to ___” is a sign you have a “condition,”– a rigid structure in the thought process.

I heard a woman call a talk show the other day complaining that her daughter wore black jeans and a black top to her dad’s funeral. The mother was angry and embarrassed. In a conditional world you may consider that a “reasonable” triggered reaction. After all, what would polite society say? “What a difference showing your knees in a dress would have made to the ceremony.” That her daughter intentionally showed disregard is an interpretation based on societal pressure. In an unconditional world, who cares? She just lost her dad.

To wake up is to allow people to be other than who you are or what the neighbors might think.

In the sixties, we threatened to ground our kids or not pay for college because they looked like a “Beatle.”

“Get to the back of the bus” was another condition.

“You can’t marry him. He’s not Jewish.” Oy.

“I worked out this morning so, yeah, it’s OK to eat a second doughnut. Bartering with yourself is a conditional response. “If this, then that.”

What about the condition of sexual preference? You hatch this beautiful child. You love them beyond words. At some point they turn to you, with fear in their hearts, to tell you a secret about their sexual identity. There are parents that turn those kids away, disown them for religious, societal or some other conditional response. Some thoughtful parents will drop the condition, go against the church teaching because they love their kid so much. What is in the mind can be changed.

Upon falling in love, we may profess your unconditional love. We can’t imagine not feeling the rush that love gives us at that moment. If we are particularly dramatic, we claim you are “my soulmate.” And then something changes. “You complete me” turns into “you annoy me when you____.”

?Anthony De Mello puts it beautifully. "I have no fear of losing you, for you aren't an object of my property, or anyone else's. I love you as you are, without attachment, without fears, without conditions, without egoism, trying not to absorb you. I love you freely because I love your freedom, as well as mine.”

If you ever find yourself feeling separate from someone we love (or would like to love), check in if a persnickety condition is quietly yet menacingly hanging around. If we can “wake up” to why we judge and criticize, we loosen our rigid conditional structures and let ourselves and others live in peace. In short, as humanity, we flourish.

To live unconditionally is to have clarity on what really matters to you. What matters to me is living a life of freedom without stress. I chose living “happy” ever after as my True North. To do that, I must realize my opinion and belief is not mine alone and not necessarily “the” truth. My perspective is one of many. A singular reality. In doing so, I drop judgement. I know I cannot judge another and be happy. My True North guides my clarity and choices moment by moment. What is your True North, your singular purpose that guides your choices? Consider happiness.

Happiness is an inside job. Think of it more as a state of being, your default mood, than a mercurial emotion. The happiness most people think about is the carrot on the stick kind. "If you buy me this, I'll be happy. When I have kids, I'll be happy. When the kids get out, then we'll be happy again." That kind of happiness is "if” consciousness – dependent upon outside conditions, giving control of our mood over to others.

If you need something to make you happy, you have a lipstick on a pig scenario. Underneath, you're all pig. (apologies to those who love pigs but you know what I mean). Just as a building can't survive an earthquake with a shoddy foundation, so it is with us. We must understand why we think the way we think, act the way we do, and have what we have or don't have. Once there is clarity, there can be happiness. Once you know how to navigate the trail to happy, you will finally know freedom. And power. And joy.

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About the author

Nanci Sherman

Nanci Sherman has been a Chief Happiness Officer, leader in the luxury hotel industry, and inspirational speaker on three continents She has studied with some of the greatest mentors in personal growth and transformation and has synthesized those teachings to share with others. More about Nanci may be found on her website Her latest book, FOLLOW YOUR BLISS, NOT YOUR BLISTERS, How to Live Uncondiitonally Happy may be purchased here