Why Your Happiness Is Based on Conditions — And How to Be Unconditionally Happy

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If you ask me if I’m happy, I’d probably say, “of course” nonchalantly without much thought.

Even if you asked me on a really, really shitty day. And it’s not because I’m being inauthentic or disingenuous. It’s because I’m so happy everyday—at a base level. Sure, I get bad moods. Sure, I get upset about things. But that doesn’t mean I’m not happy.

I’m not quite sure exactly when my happiness started becoming unconditional. But it kind of reminds me of my relationship. If you asked me if I were happy in my relationship, it would be another absentminded “of course.” Not because I’m not taking the question seriously, but because I wouldn’t even have to think about it—it’d seem like an absurd question. Of course I’m happy. Even on days that I want to scream at Garrett.

I think a lot about conditionality—and its roots in conditioning. For meaning to be constructed, I need to have some context. And that context is usually what we in the Sacred Mastermind call the Shame-Praise Dichotomy. Or the way we’ve been socialized to evaluate each act according to how shameful or praiseworthy our community tells us it is.

Being a man or Jewish or in a same-sex marriage are all inherently neutral acts. But different containers, different communities assign them different levels of shame or praise. And the fascinating thing is that shame and praise are always mirrored counterpoints.

If I am conditioned to believe that being thin is praiseworthy, for example, then being fuller-bodied is shameful to the exact same degree. So the more I believe being thin is praiseworthy, the more I believe being fuller-bodied is shameful.

This dichotomy is the root of all conditionality. Because now I’m deciding that there are conditions on my worth, love, success, happiness, whatever. And I need to access the praiseworthy attributes (somewhat arbitrarily conditioned by my container), or else I have less happiness.

But attaching myself to conditional praise is no closer to Truth than living a life of shame. Believe me, I’ve done both plenty of times in my life (and still do). I’ll crave praise like an addiction and be miserable when I lose it. The goal isn’t to become addicted to praise—it’s to free myself from conditionality.

If I feel that I’m worth more if I make more money, or have a sold out launch, or have a fight-free relationship, or wear beautiful clothing, or have a beautiful house, well then I’m living a life based on conditions of striving for praise and avoiding shame.

And it’s easy to create dichotomies at every step of the way. As I write this, if I think, “Well, shit, I’m engaging in addiction to praise, that’s a bad thing,” then I just created another split—another dichotomy. And we live in a world of endless dichotomies.

But, if I have the courage to face those dichotomies without judgment (i.e. shame or praise) and simply accept them, then they begin to lose their power. And I start to move back to the place of my own subjectivity. Living life less from the conditioning I hear around me, and more from what feels subjectively True for me—what some might call my purpose or intuition.

Liking living in a condo doesn’t mean that big, rural houses are bad. There’s no “objective” value judgment there, and no shame or praise to glean from it. It just means that my subjective preference is a condo. But I’m no more or less worthy regardless of where I live.

That’s what a life of pure subjectivity begins to look like. So intuitively you that conditioning and its associated worth can’t take hold.

I don’t want to live a life where I’m only happy if I can manifest my big launch. And then, if I don’t manifest it, I create shame around what I did wrong. Because that kind of feels like falling into the same trap—and same conditioning—I’ve fallen into for years.

Conditioning is always movement away from subjectivity. Because, the truth is, conditioning is always from a particular subjectivity. We’re essentially implicitly adopting someone else’s values and beliefs. And, if they end up matching up with our own, well that’s just dumb luck. But, the vast majority of the time, they don’t.

I’m happy because I’m happy. Because I get to be me. Here. Alive. And I’m so grateful for all of the amazing things that I have.

And that doesn’t mean I don’t get angry. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to fight for things I care about. Or work to shift a lot. But I don’t need to give up my happiness to do those very things. They’re not conditional on one another.

I can’t imagine that making more money or buying a different home or having different clothes could make me any happier than I am today. Yes, my basic needs are met (and that’s a real problem I have no desire to minimize—distribution of wealth follows along the same lines of Shame-Praise Dichotomy that assigns value to society at large). And I’m happy.

What conditions do you believe will make you happier? And is that subjectively true for you, or is that a story coming from somewhere else—some conditioning?

Unconditional love, happiness, and worth always comes from unpacking our own conditioning.

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