Hazel Nilson celebrated her 109th Birthday this past week! A New Hampshire resident and retired Physical Education teacher, Hazel took a boatride around Lake Sunapee in the Police boat. When asked for a few words of advice about living a long healthy life, Hazel replied with the following:

“Well, I’ve been happy, she said, I’ve enjoyed life, and I take what comes good or bad and I accept it.”

Hazel has discovered the secret of “Unconditional Happiness”! Many centenarians have intuitively refined their understanding of happiness along their paths in life. Like Hazel, they no longer add the word “IF” to their state of happiness. In other words, they have removed any and all conditions for happiness.

One hundred years ago, most people didn’t have the luxury of sitting around and considering their level of happiness. They got up and tended to the chores and duties that lay before them during the day. For most, these chores were essential to basic survival for the entire household.

Everyone contributed. If they lived on a farm, cows needed to be milked and fed, wood needed to be chopped, fires needed to be made, earth needed to be tilled and plowed… etc. etc. People didn’t sit around and debate their happiness quotient.

The concept of “conditional happiness” is a very modern 19th century phenomenon. It was born out of an era in which people had steady white collar jobs. The economy was relatively stable and the western world was no longer at war as we had previously known and experienced it. Families moved from the country to the cities and into suburbs. Wives tended to the home and children while their husbands went off to work. Everyone was spoon fed a new concept of “conditional – consumer driven happiness”. From milk cartons to cereal boxes we started to learn a new concept of conditional happiness. There were even rewards and prizes within our “Happy Meals”!

Bill boards started popping up that were well crafted by advertising agencies and psychologists that portrayed the new “American/Western version of a happy life”.

Can you be happy if you are being challenged? Can you be happy if you or a loved one is sick? Can you be happy if you are going through a financial struggle? Can you be happy if you are overweight? Can you be happy if you don’t have the newest car on the market? Can you be happy if you are going through a divorce? These are questions that are worth pondering.

Michael Singer, author of The Untethered Soul, quotes the following in his book:

“When everything is going well, it’s easy to be happy. But the moment something difficult happens, it’s not so easy. You tend to find yourself saying, “But I didn’t know this was going to happen. I didn’t think I’d miss my flight. I didn’t think Sally would show up at the party wearing the same dress that I had on. I didn’t think that somebody would dent my brand-new car one hour after I got it.” Are you really willing to break your vow of happiness because these events took place?

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.”

The Merriam Webster definition of happiness is a state of well being and contentment. This is important to note. It is not a carrot and stick definition of conditional happiness. Imagine for one moment a constant state of well being and contentment regardless of circumstances. Is this achievable?

The Vital Longevity Institute believes that well being and contentment are the foundational building blocks of a vital and well aligned life. We believe that happiness truly is unconditional and an “inside job”. One of the simplest ways in which to move into unconditional happiness is to fully appreciate all that is. Another way is to recognize that you are accountable and responsible for your happiness. Jess Stuart, a contributing writer for Project Happiness believes that the most important thing we need to realize is that happiness is not some far off destination we arrive at. It’s more about the journey that happens along the way and this is the everyday moments that are in fact our lives. We need to let go of our limiting beliefs and what is holding us back and embrace our own power within. This is how we create a life we love and cultivate our own happiness.

Here is today’s Vital Reset ReMINDer:

“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always an obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life”. Dr. Alfred De Souze

My very best wishes for an exceptional day and to your long and vital life.