The parameters of happiness

Parameter is one of those words. What words? Those that started out in their word life meaning one thing and then migrated over to other areas. So parameter, for instance, used to be a math-ish technical sort of word until somewhere in the middle of the 20th century. Then it floated over to non-technical fields as a technical-sounding way of saying limit or boundary. Or even guideline or framework. It’s considered a bit of a vogue word. But vogue or not, it’s used often in today’s barrage of suggestions about how we should feel or act or be and how we could feel or act or be.

I’m suggesting that we toss out the parameters and simply feel or act or be according to our unlimited potential in any area. And especially as it relates to happiness. Because, really? Who wants to have limits or boundaries or guidelines or a framework when it comes to happiness?  Who actually says “Ohhh, yes yes yes! Me! I want a happiness framework right now!”

Um…guess what? Many of us say that and we say it all the time whether out loud or deep inside ourselves. We set parameters for our happiness and we keep setting them instead of actually being happy.

“If I could just lose twenty pounds and wear a size 4 again, I’d be happy.”

“If I could just have more money, I’d be happy.”

“If I had a bigger house, the newest gadget, granite countertops, five more pairs of shoes  or a personal chef, I’d be happy.”

“If I had more freedom, less responsibility, younger friends, louder parties and lots of fun, I’d be happy.”

“If I could forgive the wrongs done to me and be unafraid to live a dynamic and blessed life, I’d be happy.”

There will always be the if list. If this happens or that happens, things will be good, great, wonderful. Until then, things are just okay or maybe not even okay. And they won’t get better until the if list becomes reality.

But it never quite happens, you know? The if list changes but doesn’t ever end. Happiness is always an if away.

Or it is unless you toss out the if list and the parameters that are actually limiting rather than adding to your happiness. Can you do that? Can you boldly and bravely toss aside everything on your if list and open your arms to the experience of simply being happy?

It is as easy and as complex as that. Easy, because the limits we set are coming from ourselves and nobody but nobody can relax those limits except ourselves. Complex because to do so means taking a leap of faith that happiness is all around us (it is) and that happiness is ours for the taking (it is) and that we can soar and bask and wallow and grow in that happiness (we can).

Oh, yes, we can. In spite of our lack of the perfect shoes or the perfect countertops or the perfect job or the perfect family or the perfect day. In spite of the lack of perfection in every area of our lives and, indeed, the lack of perfection in ourselves. We are not meant to be perfect beings. We are, however, meant to be happy.

Yet somehow nothing scares us more. The notion that we can open ourselves to astonishingly bright and beautiful joy is almost more than we can handle. We cling to our if list and we hold the parameters of our happiness tightly and we comfort ourselves with the notion that someday it will all work out.

Someday is now. If you can take a deep breath or two or five or a hundred and relax your grip on the parameters and look around, you’ll find that happiness is there, waiting. When you cease to define it, you realize that it flows readily into your life and one day you will not just feel happy, you will BE happy. From the inside out and the outside in, a steady flow of golden joy.

Far better than granite countertops, yes?

Far, far better. And yes, I know it’s not always easy and maybe that’s okay. Maybe the effort is needed to achieve what truly matters. Maybe we have to learn to see ourselves as daring and deserving individuals who have the power to embrace unlimited happiness.

Unlimited, with no parameters.

Do you dare?

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