How to Be Unbelievably Happy

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The good news is that this happiness is not something you have to accomplish. It’s not something you have to get. Rather, it’s something you already have. Truly, it’s what you already are. – Jon Bernie

You know that feeling when you’re on a long trip, you just can’t hold your pee any longer as if you’re bladder is about to explode, and then finally, finally there’s a restroom!

You sigh with a smile on your face thanking the heavens for that glorious moment of release.. “Aaahhhhhh…” It feels so good to be alive… and peeing!

That’s what The Unbelievable Happiness of What Is is – a “restbook.”

There are books that can give you the AHA moment, like when you poop and drop the A-bomb.

But this, my friend is “the pee” … it gives you the AAAHHHHHHHH… the comfort, the release, the en-lighten-ment to lighten the load you may have been carrying in the long and winding road of the spiritual path.

It reminds us of being human. And that it’s ok to be human. In fact, the spiritual path, as Jon often says in the book, is not about transcending our humanness but about embracing it.

So thank you Jon for giving us, me personally, a much needed break through this restbook.

I highly recommend this to anyone. This book will meet you wherever you are in this journey.

We’ve all heard it: Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

Everyone, let’s take a pee! …I mean, a peek. 😀


True happiness, true freedom, is bigger than any belief, beyond what any ideas could describe.

To become liberated, we must be willing to let go of who we think we are. It’s that simple. “Who we think we are” is what we believe—all the stories of our history, our upbringing, our heritage; our race, religion, status, pedigree; and even our relationships, or at least our ideas about them.

Funny line from Jon: “Beliefs are fine – as long as you don’t believe them!”

Beliefs are okay, as long as we don’t identify ourselves with them.

Happiness is our true identity. It’s “unbelievable” because it is beyond our beliefs. It’s beyond who we think we are.

Who we think we are is an idea we have of ourselves. Around that, we also form our own ideas of what happiness is.

We think we’ll be happy only when “this” happens. It becomes conditional, conditioned by our beliefs, conditioned by what should be happening.

True happiness is free. If we don’t constrict it with conditions, bounded by our beliefs, then it can be found regardless of what is happening.

It is always available for us. We only need to be available for it too.

The Path of the Heart

The path of the heart is to learn to listen, rather than talk; to allow, rather than dominate; and to really take in the many, many communications from all directions that are guiding your attention, helping show you the way to return home.

The path to happiness is the path of the heart. It’s the “path of least resistance.”

Does least resistance mean easy? No. It means least resistance in spite of difficulty. We don’t resist what is happening. Instead, we allow. That’s why the path of the heart will sometimes require us to turn toward what’s difficult.

In the path of the heart, there are no “wrong” turns. Mistakes are welcomed. Everything is welcomed. Mistakes are seen as “missed takes.” They are seen as opportunities, guideposts illuminating our way.

“Wrong” turns only happen in the path of the mind, a path narrowed by judgments and beliefs, limiting our view on what really is a wide open road of happiness, where all experiences are free to pass by.

So we have to expand our awareness to see what is happening in our experience. Maybe our suffering, our discomfort, our difficulties, our mistakes are also leading us our way back home to happiness.

Don’t Throw It All Away

Eventually all your scattered parts—the parts of you that have been repressed, cut off, marginalized, or just forgotten—all return home to be integrated. They come back to be forgiven, to be loved, to be embraced—and finally to be appreciated because they are the fuel for the fire of transformation.

Honey, don’t throw out the garbage. Recycle it!

Often along the spiritual path, we also believe it’s about transcending our human nature. Unbelievable! We’re not transcending it, we’re embracing it.

We’re not throwing away the human experience and the parts of our humanness we don’t like. We’re recycling them.

We reclaim all the parts of ourselves we had previously repressed, rejected, or pushed aside. We rather offer them forgiveness and compassion, and ultimately, our gratitude and appreciation because they are what make us fully human – fully alive!

Let’s sing it one more time, honey. With feelings this time!
“Don’t throw it all away, our love, our love, don’t throw it all away, our love.”

Just Be Right Here

Awakening happens by itself. The only thing we’re really learning here is how to allow it to happen. Take a moment to really let that in. I think you’ll find it lifts the burden of being responsible for your spiritual progress from your shoulders, giving you a whole different perspective on what responsibility really means. Just bringing awareness to what is, allowing it to be as it is in the field of awareness, you might say that’s a kind of effortless responsibility, effortless grace.

If there’s one takeaway from the book Jon wants us to remember, it’s this: “Just be right here.”

Just that? Yep! Just be right here.

Nothing to do? Nothing. Awakening happens naturally. Just be right here.

Nowhere to go? Awakening is now here. Just be right here.

There’s really no spiritual work, only human work.

Even so, the work involves non-doing – stillness. In being still, listening to silence, we cultivate awareness.

Jon tells us that in discovering awareness, and rediscovering it over and over again, we gain the perspective that allows awakening to happen.

Cultivating Awareness

So the underlying question is, what is this awareness? Following are some suggestions that I think might be helpful toward this inquiry, some hints for allowing understanding to emerge.

I invite you to

  • listen without thinking,
  • to see without identifying,
  • to feel without interpreting,
  • to sense without resisting, and
  • to allow thoughts without believing them.

These are Jon’s suggestions regarding the human work. Can you sense the effortlessness in them? They’re like breathing. You don’t need to make conscious effort to breathe. Breathing just happens.

You simply become aware of your breath or not. That awareness is what we’re “working” on, not the breathing.

Practice being in that space. As you grow in awareness, awareness also grows in you.

How to Be Happy

As human beings, we all want to find out how to connect, how to love, and really, how to be human. Awakening is the best way—in fact the only way—to become fully, authentically human.

Ironically, what makes us unhappy is when we think about how to be happy. We get caught up in thinking that we don’t realize the answer is in the question itself.

How to be happy.

When we leave the thinking part out of the question, we arrive at the answer.

We didn’t solve the question, we dissolve it.

To be happy, we have to get out of our head and into our heart. Out of thinking, into feeling.

Thinking can only connect the dots. But it can disconnect us from everything else, from what is happening.

The real connection we’re deeply yearning for is through feeling. And that connection happens within us. We want to feel ourselves!

Happiness is our state of being. What we want is to feel our beingness – what it feels to be happy.

Problem-DISsolving Time

Emotion is the natural weather system of the human body, and yet so often we hold it back, we repress that natural movement. We may also invest our emotions with meaning, developing beliefs that support our holding them back. It’s important to learn to free our emotions and allow them to move as they will, to release that energy and allow it to recirculate. One of the most important ways to do this is verbal expression.

Part of the 7-step protocol for clearing, grounding, integrating, and expanding that Jon outlines in the book is what’s called “Expressing the Truth of the Condition.”

As we said, we become unhappy when we attach happiness to conditions. “Condition,” as Jon defines it, is where you’re at and what’s happening.

Emotion is energy in motion, so it’s vital to keep it moving, especially in dealing with the “negative” ones.

Jon suggests we express what we feel verbally. When we express the truth of what we’re experiencing, we are offering it into the space of awareness.

We may be expressing about our problems, but we’re not looking for answers or solutions. It isn’t problem-solving time, but rather, problem-dissolving time.

When we dissolve the label “problem,” what remains is a neutral experience. And so we can look at it again from a fresh, clearer perspective.

With clarity, answers and solutions can then come into our awareness. We’re back to receptive mode, back in the flow.

The Freedom Equation

Every moment of freedom is a moment of awe. How often do we stop and really look at what’s in front of us? Our very existence is an inexplicable and unknowable miracle. So stop and notice that miracle. Otherwise you’re doing life—being somebody, getting somewhere—rather than being life. But life itself is the great teacher, and what’s happening for you in every moment is the teaching. So stop, relax, and let that teaching in.

We are happiest and most fulfilled as human beings when we are in that unified space of unconditional love, giving and receiving open-heartedly.

Problem-solving time! Haha!

What’s the formula for happiness? Here it is, The Freedom Equation:

One minus one = Freedom

Freedom is returning to zero. Openness. Clarity. Just like what we did in problem-dissolving.

We return to the unified space of awareness. The space that has no conditions. The space that holds love, which is unconditional.

Whatever the problem is, use the freedom equation. The answer is love, always.

The Explorer and the Scientist

The most useful perspectives to have on the spiritual path are those of the explorer and the scientist. As an explorer, you are always wandering in unknown territory, always making discoveries. As a scientist you are constantly observing your experience and questioning everything.

“Not knowing.” That’s an oft-repeated phrase you’ll find in the book.

In that context, the saying “Ignorance is bliss” applies. Ignorance here means curiosity. In other words, “Not knowing is happiness.”

Life will always remain a mystery. That’s why the path is sometimes called “mysticism” and not “answerism.”

We really, really don’t know what is happening. So let’s simply live in the question, in not knowing.

When we embrace the uncertainty, the mystery, we embrace Life.

In knowing nothing, we experience everything.

Life is the Purpose

The true meaning and purpose of life is to be at peace, to be fulfilled—to be happy! It’s really that simple. That can happen for you regardless of your circumstances, regardless of whether you’ve gotten everything you wanted in this life or achieved all the so-called goals you set for yourself.

The purpose of life is to live it fully as much as possible, every moment. Not just when you’re getting what you want, but also when you’re not getting what you want, and even when you’re getting what you don’t want.

To awaken is to be fulfilled, to be happy, to be alive, free to live fully in each and every moment.

What’s the meaning and purpose of life?

Goddamn it! (Expression my friend, expression)

…We just talked about not knowing! …Damn it! (Repetition is key)

Ok, I feel better now..

We just talked about not knowing.. (See? No more emotional charge)

Live in the question. To discover the meaning and purpose of life, we must live it.

TO THE FULLEST!!! The ups and the downs. The successes and the failures. The good times and the bad times.

Every thing. Every moment.

Because every moment, Happiness is happening.

Just be right here…

“What you seek is seeking you.”

So stop looking for it. You are already what you seek.

Let it find you. Let it happen. Allow.

Take a pee.

“Aaahhhhhhhhhh” 😀

The Unbelievable Happiness of What Is: Beyond Belief to Love, Fulfillment, and Spiritual Awakening


JON BERNIE is a contemporary spiritual teacher whose teaching focuses on returning attention to the already enlightened state that lies at the core of our human experience. He has four decades of experience in the Zen, Theravada Buddhist, and Advaita traditions, and was formally asked to teach by Adyashanti in 2002. Jon is also an experienced healer and teacher of somatic embodiment, with training in the Alexander Technique, Zero Balancing, and Qigong. He leads classes and retreats in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, and does intensive, one-on-one work with individuals to facilitate consciousness development and deep emotional healing. To find out more about Jon and his teachings, please visit

Other Books by Jon Bernie

Ordinary Freedom

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