I often use the phrase “spiritual path” to describe the journey of my life. At its most fundamental, I would describe being on a spiritual path as nurturing a deep longing to know the true nature of the Universe, who we are and why we’re here. (Which is not exactly the kind of conversation that makes me the darling of hip cocktail parties. But it’s pretty good for my writing career, so I’m not complaining.)
I’ve also been on a path of opening to ever-deeper experiences of personal growth and fulfillment and, yes, success. Success on all levels, here in the material world.
Fortunately for me, I’ve discovered that these two intentions are not at all opposed to each other; in fact, I believe they reflect different aspects of the same intention.
When we stop separating “spiritual” from “material,” spiritual enlightenment – waking up to our true magnificence – opens us to personal fulfillment in this glorious material world we inhabit, however we wish to define that for ourselves.
There is one particular aspect to both spiritual enlightenment and personal fulfillment that has captivated me for a long time. It’s what I call unconditional happiness, or the innate capacity we have to source our deepest sense of well-being from the Source – the Source of all Life – rather than depending on outer circumstances to be a certain way in order to be happy. Or, in simpler terms, it’s the ability to be happy and at peace no matter what.
From a spiritual perspective this capacity reflects our oneness with Source, with God or the Universe or whatever you name the Life-giving pulse of creation. It is our ability to experience and appreciate our divine magnificence and not feel diminished by the seeming limitations of our current material circumstances.
From a personal fulfillment perspective, this capacity is crucial in raising and sustaining our vibration so that we are on the same wavelength with all that we desire to create and experience in life. In other words, thanks to the vibrational nature of this universe wherein everything is, fundamentally, energy vibrating at particular frequencies, when we vibrate “happiness” we have access to things we find uplifting.
I always find the metaphor of TV channels particularly helpful: when we’re on the “happiness” channel, the thoughts we think and the actions we take and the opportunities we attract are ones that naturally express our happiness. But we have to get ourselves there first; we have to tune ourselves to that frequency.
Which brings us back to learning to be happy and at peace no matter what.
At first this concept seemed almost preposterous to me. How could I possibly be happy if things weren’t going the way I wanted them to go? And yet, like so many spiritual concepts I have explored, it resonated as “truth” at the very core of my being, in spite of seeming absurd to my “rational” mind. So I set an intention to cultivate that capacity, that state of being: I decided I wanted to be happy no matter what. (But I would still prefer the matters of my life to be pleasing to me!)
And before I move on, let me clarify – by “happy” I don’t mean giggly or wildly exuberant, although both of those experiences are welcome. I mean deeply at peace, content, and resting in the knowing that all is truly well. It also means holding a sense of optimism and excitement about my future. That’s how I wanted to feel, no matter what.
I had no idea where to start.
So I started with just the intention, and a willingness to be open and curious about how it could be cultivated. I’ve explored everything from meditation to prayer to journaling about what I appreciate in my life to looking for positive aspects in even the most challenging situations to reading inspiring books to simply learning to pause when I feel frustrated or unhappy and just take some slow, deep breaths. And I’ve used mantras and affirmations to great effect, I must admit! I’ve practiced looking for different interpretations of events that upset me, which has been tremendously helpful.
And uneven as it may be, I have made…progress.
Fast forward to an afternoon several weeks ago, sitting in my living room after having had a particularly satisfying and inspiring conversation with a dear friend of mine. I hung up the phone and literally basked in the luscious, uplifting energy we had created. It was glorious. I felt really, really good – dare I say happy, at peace and deeply content. Just the way I wanted to feel.
Then my mind did a rather obnoxious thing – it started reminding me of all the things in my life that really weren’t going as well as I’d like them to go, beginning with the ongoing challenge of regulating my sweet cat Toby’s diabetes. It all went downhill from there, and in a matter of seconds I was feeling really, really bad.
Wow, that was fast. If ever I needed clear evidence of the power of our thoughts to create our experience, I got it in that moment. I was not enjoying my experience.
And then…and then…out of the blue came a thought completely unlike the complaints and worries that were swirling in my mind. It said, quietly but firmly, “So…are you willing to be happy anyway?” I paused in a sort of confusion – where had that come from? And into that pause arose a bubble of happiness and delight so palpable and life-giving I literally laughed out loud and said – out loud – “Yes! I am willing to be happy anyway!”
I felt really, really good again. (I believe I even felt giggly and wildly exuberant.) It all seemed so simple in that moment, so clear: my ability to feel good had absolutely nothing to do with the current circumstances of my life. It had everything to do with my intention and willingness to feel good. In that moment, I really “got it.”
Since then, the clarity of that moment has dimmed just a bit, yet it’s still with me. I’ve had moments of feeling down about various things, for sure. And yet, as soon as I remember to do so, I ask myself: “So…are you willing to be happy anyway?” My answer is always yes, even if my access to “happy” in that moment feels limited to just feeling “okay” or reminding myself that this, too, shall pass and then taking some nourishing breaths. Slowly but surely, I am getting better and better at lifting myself up to a place where I feel genuinely at peace.
That moment in my living room was truly a moment of grace. I didn’t plan it or demand it or even negotiate for it. It was a gift. Yet that gift could not have been received had I not been open to receive it. And it was my intention to cultivate peace and happiness, along with my ongoing willingness and curiosity about how that might look, that created the opening for grace to pour in.
This fresh inflow of Grace is available to all of us. Are you ready to receive yours? Trust the power of your intention – and your willingness to find ways to creatively support it – to open yourself to that life-giving Grace. It is the power that creates worlds, and it is yours to use to create your world.