We hear a lot about unconditional love these days. And most people are pretty much in favor of that. So I say – What about unconditional joy? What about joy that’s not dependent on conditions? Doesn’t that sound like a good idea too?
Years ago when I practiced Buddhism, we talked about two kinds of happiness – relative happiness and absolute happiness.
Relative happiness is happiness that’s dependent on circumstances. It’s about feeling good when things are going your way and feeling bad when they aren’t.
Absolute happiness, on the other hand, is happiness that’s unrelated to conditions. It’s the ability to maintain a state of happiness no matter what’s happening “out there.”
Absolute happiness, which I’m now calling unconditional joy, is my very favorite thing. I love it when someone asks me why I’m happy and I can truly say it’s for no particular reason. If it’s based on the new car or the award or the vacation, it’s temporary – because happiness based on conditions is always temporary and unreliable.
Most of us were trained to believe that joy is conditional – that other people and circumstances have the power to make us feel happy or sad. And most of us were brought up to believe that joy is a special occasion kind of thing. Like with love, we’ve been looking for joy in all the wrong places – out there – from other people and external circumstances.
Conditional joy says we can be happy on Friday but not on Monday. Conditional joy says we can expect to be happy on holidays and special occasions, but certainly not every day.
But here’s the thing – unconditional joy is your natural state. It comes from inside you. It’s Who You Really Are. And, unlike conditional joy, unconditional joy is not temporary – it’s eternal and it’s always available regardless of the stock market or politics or your weight or your bank account or your partner’s mood or . . . .
“The joy I have – the world didn’t give it,
the world can’t take it away.”
– Shirley Caesar, gospel singer
If living a life of unconditional joy sounds good to you, you can get there in three steps: (1) desire it (2) believe it’s possible and (3) practice the vibration of joy until it becomes steady within you.
(1) Do you truly desire to live in a state of unconditional joy or is it inappropriate to be joyful in a world where many are suffering? This becomes an easy choice when you realize the best thing you can do for anyone you care about – in fact, the best thing you can do for our world – is to make up your mind to feel as much joy as you possibly can.
(2) Are you willing to believe it’s possible to live a life of unconditional joy?
Isn’t there a part of you that knows joy is your natural state? Isn’t there a part of you that knows joy is not only possible – indeed, it’s your birthright? Isn’t there a part of you that knows you came here to have fun and experience outrageous joy?
(3) Are you willing to practice the feeling of joy until joy becomes your dominant vibration? Joy is not, as I used to believe, just for the lucky few. Joy is a muscle you can develop. Finding the source of joy within is a choice you can make on a daily basis and doing so will expand your capacity for joy.
To determine your willingness to live a life of unconditional joy, ask yourself:
Am I willing to feel joy without a good reason?
Am I willing to feel joy even in the midst of difficulties?
Am I willing to release any beliefs that tell me I’m undeserving of joy?
As someone who was not blessed with a naturally sunny disposition and who has struggled with sadness and fear, I’m here to tell you that unconditional joy is possible. It does take strong desire. It does take a healthy amount of belief.
And it does take consistent practice. It takes getting up every day and setting an intention to find things to enjoy. It takes a commitment to feeling as good as you possibly can no matter what. It takes absolutely refusing to harbor negative thoughts.
With desire, belief and practice, you truly can experience unshakable happiness, inner peace and well-being. With desire, belief and practice, you truly can move from sometimes-when-all-the-stars-are-aligned conditional joy into joy-is-my-birthright unconditional joy!