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A Simple Choice October 15, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Happiness, Mindfulness.

Kathy (Pocket Perspectives) brought Michael Singer’s book, The Untethered Soul ~ The Journey Beyond Yourself, to my attention yesterday.

I have not yet read the book, but I couldn’t wait to share this excerpt, from Chapter 15: The Path of Unconditional Happiness, with you.

In few words, Singer outlines the simple choice we face each day: 

The highest spiritual path is life itself. If you know how to live daily life, it all becomes a liberating experience. But first you have to approach life properly, or it can be very confusing. To begin with, you have to realize that you really only have one choice in this life, and it’s not about your career, whom you want to marry, or whether you want to seek God. People tend to burden themselves with so many choices. But, in the end, you can throw it all away and just make one basic, underlying decision:

Do you want to be happy, or do you not want to be happy?

It’s really that simple. Once you make that choice, your path through life becomes totally clear.

Most people don’t dare give themselves that choice because they think it’s not under their control. Someone might say, “Well, of course I want to be happy, but my wife left me.” In other words, they want to be happy, but not if their wife leaves them. But that wasn’t the question. The question was, very simply, “Do you want to be happy or not?” If you keep it that simple, you will see that it really is under your control. It’s just that you have a deep-seated set of preferences that gets in the way.

Let’s say you’ve been lost and without food for days, and you finally find your way to a house. You can hardly make it to the doorstep, but you manage to pull yourself up and knock on the door. Somebody opens the door, looks at you and says, “Oh my God! You poor thing! Do you want something to eat? What would you like?” Now the truth is, you really don’t care what they give you. You don’t even want to think about it. You just utter the word “food.” And because you really mean it when you say you need food, it no longer has anything to do with your mental preferences. The same goes for the question about happiness. The question is simply “Do you want to be happy?” If the answer is really yes, then say it without qualifying it. After all, what the question really means is “Do you want to be happy from this point forward for the rest of your life, regardless of what happens?”

Now, if you say yes, it might happen that your wife leaves you, or your husband dies, or the stock market crashes, or your car breaks down on an open highway at night. Those things might happen between now and the end of your life. But if you want to walk the highest spiritual path, then when you answer yes to that simple question, you must really mean it. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It’s not a question of whether your happiness is under your control. Of course it’s under your control. It’s just that you don’t really mean it when you say you’re willing to stay happy. You want to qualify it. You want to say that as long as this doesn’t happen, or as long as that does happen, then you’re willing to be happy. That’s why it seems like it is out of your control.

Any condition you create will limit your happiness. You simply aren’t going to be able to control things and keep them the way you want them.

You have to give an unconditional answer. If you decide that you’re going to be happy from now on for the rest of your life, you will not only be happy, you will become enlightened. Unconditional happiness is the highest technique there is. You don’t have to learn Sanskrit or read any scriptures. You don’t have to renounce the world. You just have to really mean it when you say that you choose to be happy. And you have to mean it regardless of what happens. This is truly a spiritual path, and it is as direct and sure a path to Awakening as could possibly exist.

For purchase information:  The Untethered Soul 

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related posts:  The “It Could Be Worse Game” * Don’t Bring Me Down * Will This Thought Bring Me Happiness


1. Carl D'Agostino - October 15, 2011

If you crawl up on someone’s doorstep in Miami, they shoot you. Then you are usually very unhappy and will remain so for quite some time. If you live.

nrhatch - October 15, 2011

Note to self: Don’t move to Miami. It’s impossible to be happy there. 🙄

2. Pocket Perspectives - October 15, 2011

Nancy, I’d love to see your face as you read some of that book, Untethered Soul…I thought that what Michael Singer has to say and the way he writes it is stunningly insightful. And I think that the cd’s are even better. The ideas in that book and the cd’s have had a profound effect on both my husband’s and my lives…and I don’t say that lightly. Be sure to get the cd’s….I think they’re even more powerful than the book, and that’s saying something! I think that the best order of listening is cd set 1, cd set 2, cd set 4 and cd set 3. (There are 2 cd’s in each set….and I’ve listened to each one many, many times) He does have a way of phrasing his ideas that gets right to the point, doesn’t he?

Pocket Perspectives - October 15, 2011

Here’s the link to the cd’s http://www.shantipub.biz/cart/cart.php

Pocket Perspectives - October 15, 2011
nrhatch - October 15, 2011

Thanks, Kathy. I’m heading out to BAYFEST and will catch up on posts later today. 🙂

nrhatch - October 15, 2011

He certainly does. I’ve heard so many people who insist that they want to be happy . . . and then sabotage their happiness by allowing their thoughts to roam free. “I’ll be happy when . . . I get that new pair of shoes.” “I’ll be happy when . . . I find my soulmate.” “I’ll be happy when . . . X”

We are HERE and it is NOW . . . what else is there?

3. I’m in the mood to be happy….hey, how about you? | Pocket Perspectives - October 15, 2011

[…] very insightful related post…..“A simple choice” by Nancy, at Spirit Lights the Way  Thank you Nancy for posting that…it gave me the energy to put this post […]

nrhatch - October 15, 2011

A very uplifting post. Thanks, Kathy. 😀

4. Sandra Bell Kirchman - October 15, 2011

Absolutely outstanding post! I have had a quarter century of “training” in spiritual things and have a pretty all-embracing belief system. But it never occurred to me to want happiness without conditions (which means, to me, without limitations). My breath is taken away. I’m going to forward this to my husband. Thanks to pocket perspective too for bringing this to your attention. Now I’ve got to go and think 😛

nrhatch - October 15, 2011

I’ve often followed advice from the Dalai Lama to watch my thoughts, mindfully asking, “Will this thought bring me happiness.” If not, change the thought.

I also remind myself that at times of the choice between being right and being happy.

Michael Singer’s advice makes the choice still simpler. 🙂

Sandra Bell Kirchman - October 15, 2011

Yeah, I’ve done those things. The problem is, once I start thinking, I begin debating. Once I start debating, I fall off the topic and end up not being happy and not really realizing why.

However, Michael Singer has brought it down to the simplest basic form. Do I want to be happy? Without conditions? No strings attached? No bargains with God: The answer is simply yes or no. No room for debating or making deals.

This entire post is helping me with ideas and plans for how this works and how to make it work in every situation. Your reply regarding your stay in hospital was eye-opening. I have worked on my occasional self-pitying habit most of my life, but it never occurred to me that feeling sorry for myself robbed me of being happy. It is sooooo simple when it’s put in those terms. I honestly feel happier right this minute than I have for days.

Thank you all who are involved in this post.

nrhatch - October 15, 2011

Yay! I used his technique when diagnosed with a tumor that couldn’t be biopsied due to its location . . . and I had to wait 3 months for surgery . . . and I was a medical malpractice attorney at the time.

Those 3 months were the HAPPIEST of my life ~ because I didn’t know if I was going to live or die. And if I was going to die . . . I wanted to die HAPPY.

Good luck.

5. kateshrewsday - October 15, 2011

Thanks to you both. Fantastic words today.

nrhatch - October 15, 2011

I want to read more of this book. 😀

6. sufilight - October 15, 2011

Thanks Nancy and Kathy for these words. Choosing our state of mind is our responsibility, we can allow ourselves to be happy even in the midst of life’s duality. I am sharing a link to a post I made during the summer where I was happy even when facing a dental challenge after tripping over and falling.


nrhatch - October 15, 2011

I’ll be around shortly, Marie. Thanks for the link. The title reminds me of a quote I love:

Hardship is inevitable. Misery is optional. 😀

nrhatch - October 15, 2011

Wonderful post AND attitude, Marie.

Once hardship or pain has occurred (or is occurring) . . . we can add to it by creating unnecessary suffering or we can “accept it” and move forward, keeping misery and suffering at bay.

I’ve done the same thing when in the hospital with unrelenting pain of unknown etiology. The hardship was inevitable . . . nothing was going to make the situation go away . . . but I chose NOT to add to it with the thoughts I was thinking.

I refused to create unnecessary suffering by throwing a pity party for myself. Instead, I played the “it could be worse” game and gave thanks that I was in the hospital being cared for by trained medical professionals . . . and not stuck at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. 😉

7. barb19 - October 15, 2011

Yes, I want to be happy!! Great post, thanks Nancy.

nrhatch - October 15, 2011

Same here, Barb. I do my best not to sabotage my happiness.

Every day, I see people get worked up over anything and everything (and sometimes even nothing). They complain about this, that, and the other thing. It seems so silly and counter-productive.

You impressed me by LOVING your trip to Scotland . . . despite dealing with illness. The “what is” IS . . . once we accept what we cannot change, we find it much easier to be happier in the face of daily challenges.

8. suzicate - October 15, 2011

I choose happy and to NOT move to Miami!

nrhatch - October 15, 2011

Smart thinking, Suzi! I guess they called it Miami Vice for a reason. 😉

9. Team Oyeniyi - October 16, 2011

Live an unreasonable life. 🙂 We don’t need reasons for everything. Similar concept to conditions. I did the Landmark Forum and that is one of the basic tenets.

nrhatch - October 16, 2011

When we accept what we cannot change . . . we free up energy to look for the silver lining. 😀

10. jeanne - October 16, 2011

I know people who are happy no matter what..their happiness is infectious. I start out choosing Joy and Happiness every day…its not that I end the day unhappy but life does have challenging moments.

nrhatch - October 17, 2011

Life is a constant challenge . . . there is always something to get riled about.

Yesterday I asked myself several times, “Are you going to let THIS steal your happiness?” The answer was always NO! 😎

11. ElizOF - October 17, 2011

With the constant ups and downs of life, we must choose to embrace our own joy. It is a choice. I wrote on similar topic today… must be in the air. 😉

nrhatch - October 17, 2011

It’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. It is so easy to let the extraneous pull us away from the essential . . . causing us to lose our connection with the well-spring of peace and joy.

12. Inspiration: Honor The Ebb & Flow Of Life… | Mirth and Motivation - October 17, 2011

[…] A Simple Choice (nrhatch.wordpress.com) […]

13. 2e0mca - October 18, 2011

I think it’s a valid point put across very eloquently. I’ve got some of the way there – I didn’t let other people decide what I could and should have as hobbies and interests. I didn’t let them tell me when I was going to get married… The list goes on! You have to walk your own line in life in order to be happy. You can’t let others decide those sorts of things for you. Interesting post Nancy 🙂

nrhatch - October 18, 2011

Others often want to map out our life for us . . . superimposing their dreams and desires over our own.

We listen to them at our peril.

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