The nail-biting, world-changing 2016 presidential election is being decided as I write this, but my decision about what to write has been made. I smile. Unconditional Happiness! It's one of my favorite classes at the University of Well-Being, Ballet and Refrigeration, because it's so controversial, so fascinating to consider, so essential if we are to face the election results and move on with our lives in a way that promotes healing, defeats depression and uncurls our toes.
Unconditional Happiness is the practice of choosing to be happy, no matter what. No matter who wins, no matter who loses, no matter the state of our nation at this very moment, you can lift your spirit and boost your health by answering this one question: "Do you want to be happy or do you want not to be happy?"
Michael Singer, an expert in unconditional happiness, calls it a simple question. But for most of us, it's impossibly complex. How can you be happy if your candidate loses, your spouse dies, the stock market crashes, your lover leaves you and takes the cat?
"Once you decide you want to be unconditionally happy, something inevitably will happen that challenges you," Singer explains in his New York Times best-seller "The Untethered Soul."
Accept your life as it unfolds, Singer teaches. Don't let what happens make you miserable. If your answer to the "Do I want to be happy question?" is yes, then you have to let go of all conditions that arise. "You have to mean it regardless of what happens."
I told you it was controversial.
"When everything is going well, it's easy to be happy," writes Singer, who went from a penniless yogi to the founding CEO of a billion-dollar public company. "But the moment something difficult happens, it's not so easy."
"The question is not whether they will happen," Singer writes. "Things are going to happen. The real question is whether you want to be happy regardless of what happens. The purpose of your life is to enjoy and learn from your experiences. You were not put on Earth to suffer. You're not helping anybody by being miserable."
You can still be concerned, aware and involved in whatever distressing situation comes your way, Singer explains, but you can't let it get in the way of your commitment to being happy. Well, you can, but it's not the higher path to well-being.
"Committing yourself to unconditional happiness will teach you every single thing there is to learn about yourself, about others, about the nature of life," says Singer. "You will learn all about your mind, your heart, and your will. But you have to mean it when you say that you'll be happy for the rest of your life. Every time a part of you begins to get unhappy, let it go."
Easier said than done, it's true, but here's something else that's true.
"Regardless of your philosophical beliefs, the fact remains that you were born and you are going to die. During the time in between, you get to choose whether or not you want to enjoy the experience.
"Events don't determine whether or not you're going to be happy. They're just events. You determine whether or not you're going to be happy. You can be happy just to be alive. You can be happy having all these things happen to you, and then be happy to die."
Singer sets a high bar, especially for those who prefer going to a bar when something awful happens.
"If you want to be happy, you have to let go of the part of you that wants to create melodrama. This is the part that thinks there's a reason not to be happy. You have to transcend the personal, and as you do, you will naturally awaken to the higher aspects of your being."
That's when that overwhelming feeling of well-being kicks in, and you know that you'll get through this, because you've made that strong choice.
"No matter what happens, just enjoy the life that comes to you," Singer says.
No matter what.
ENERGY EXPRESS-O! HUNGRY FOR A LAUGH?
"I'm not crazy about reality, but it's still the only place to get a decent meal." — Groucho Marx
Marilynn Preston — healthy lifestyle expert, well being coach and Emmy-winning producer — is the creator of Energy Express, the longest-running syndicated fitness column in the country. She has a website, marilynnpreston.com, and welcomes reader questions, which can be sent to [email protected] She also produces EnExTV, a digital reincarnation of her award-winning TV series about sports, fitness and adventure, for kids of all ages, at youtube.com/EnExTV and facebook.com/EnExTV. To find out more about Preston and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.