There is a strongly held belief that says we always need to do something before we can be truly happy tomorrow. But tomorrow never comes. We can get all the material goods, qualifications, jobs, love affairs etc. that we decide we must have to be happy, but it's never enough. Happiness is seen as the end product of all those wants. The Option Process asks: Why make our happiness (feeling good inside) dependant upon achieving goals? Why not be happy now and then pursue whatever we want? If happiness is not seen to be tied into results then we are not unhappy if we don't get what we want, and are then free to want or pursue anything. We become far more daring, creative and energetic if we prioritize being happy now, because our happiness is no longer at stake if we fail to achieve our goals. Although our goals may just manifest as a byproduct; 'We can trust that our happiness will realign not only the dendrites in our brain but also the molecules of our material world and become a lullaby that will charm the universe.'


Happiness accentuates individuality. Using gentle and non-judgmental questioning it is necessary to scrutinize all the beliefs and judgments compromising one's personal baggage and only hold on to those that serve you. This is described as 'a wondrous act of re-creation' and leads to having to make the choice to value authenticity over self-suppression as existing relationships will have to alter to accommodate the new choices or else be discarded. Either way, new friendships based on acceptance, respect and love arise as a natural consequence of the enhanced sense of personal ease and harmony that comes from dropping old outmoded masks and expressing ourselves more freely.


Judgments about people and possibilities limit our thinking and cement us in our unhappiness. We have become geniuses in pinpointing all that is difficult and bad in our lives and the world around us. The media reflect and reinforce that bias. The reward for such studious vigilance results in continual stress, discomfort and anxiety.
By letting go of judgments we are free to find the best in every situation. It is our response to stimuli that creates happiness (or unhappiness) not the stimuli themselves. It is necessary to adopt a more accepting attitude, which will allow us to access a reservoir of energy beyond imagination. Certainly adopting a non-judgmental stance, even in the face of contrary evidence, is something that can be experimented with at any time.


Being present is basically choosing to keep yourself from drifting into the past or future or going with the internal meanderings of the mind, which can so often destroy the trust and intimacy between people. In communication we can choose to look directly at the person and listen to them, amplifying our appreciation and understanding of their commentary and honoring their attempt to communicate with us. Being present expands immensely the depth and scope of each experience. Or put more poetically: “Letting go of the past and future is diving into the current. Such a decision… opens the doorway to happiness.”


An unending sense of gratitude is a personality trait common to people who become happier. Gratitude is 'the sweetest way to embrace happiness'. It is necessary to train ourselves to look for the many miracles of living, even invoking gratitude in the most difficult of circumstances. One example given in the literature is that of an Options Institute student bemoaning his mother's sudden death, and then allowing himself to remember all the good times they shared together in order to allow himself to feel love and gratitude for having shared such times with her. Gratitude can also be made more concrete and powerful by sharing it with others and by being very specific with it.


With this shortcut we are truly acknowledging that we have the capacity to choose our beliefs and feelings and can guide our responses with a clear and conscious intention. 'It is as if we were happiness, love and joy camouflaged and compromised by layers of distrust and discomfort. Deciding to be happy is deciding to slice through these seemingly impenetrable layers… and to champion what we want to experience now.' It involves accepting ourselves and others and being happy with that acceptance. No reason is ever needed to be happy - the delight of the experience is enough.

From Happiness is a Choice, by Barry Neil Kaufman

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