Health & Spirit

All Is Not Well: So Now What Choice Do You Have?

Marilynn Preston on

It's almost embarrassing to have a new book out called "All Is Well." Even though the subtitle explains that it's about "the art and science of personal well-being," the fact is that all is not well.

No, no, no. Ten hurricanes in a row. Worst flooding in history. The Las Vegas massacre. Ferocious wildfires. A wiped-out Puerto Rico begging for help. Threats of a nuclear war with North Korea.

I'll stop now -- only to call attention to a plan of action that can help us remain strong and brave and move on with our lives in a way that promotes well-being, defeats depression and lets us sleep at night without burying our brains in a bucket of bourbon.

It's called "unconditional happiness." It's controversial; it's fascinating; and it's something to consider right now as we're figuring out how to react to bad news, broken dreams and the seeming omnipresence of evil.

Unconditional happiness is the practice of choosing to be happy no matter what. It doesn't mean that you ignore what's really going on. It doesn't mean that you turn your back on suffering or completely give up on the news -- though sometimes it feels so good, so restorative, to take a break.

Unconditional happiness means that no matter what's going on, you can lift your spirit and even boost your health by answering this one question: "Do I want to be happy, or do I want to not be happy?"

In "All is Well," I introduce readers to Michael Singer, an expert in unconditional happiness and the author of "The Untethered Soul." He calls that essential existential inquiry -- "Do I want to be happy?" -- a simple question. But for most of us, it's impossibly complex. How can you be happy when thousands are running for their lives, when your own house burns down, when your loved ones die, when our country and so many others appear to be under brutal, breathtaking assault by a punishing Mother Nature?

"Once you decide you want to be unconditionally happy, something inevitably will happen that challenges you," Singer explains. Floods, fires, death, destruction. That's the way of the world. Bad stuff happens. "The real question is whether you want to be happy regardless of what happens."

And the real answer is up to you. "When everything is going well, it's easy to be happy," writes Singer. "But the moment something difficult happens, it's not so easy."

It's not so easy now, right? So, what can you do?

Accept your life as it unfolds, Singer teaches. Don't let what happens to you or around you make you miserable.

"The purpose of your life is to enjoy and learn from your experiences," writes Singer. "You were not put on Earth to suffer. You're not helping anyone by being miserable."

You can and should be concerned, aware, 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 that's not the path to personal 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," writes 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 there'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."

So that's the Singer theory of unconditional happiness in a nutshell. Be aware. Be engaged. Do what you can to improve the lives of others.

And no matter what happens, just enjoy and be grateful for the life that comes to you.

Told you it was controversial.


"I'm not crazy about reality, but it's still the best place to get a decent meal." -- Groucho Marx


Marilynn Preston is the author of Energy Express, America's longest-running healthy lifestyle column. Her new book "All Is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being" is available now on Amazon and elsewhere. Visit Creators Publishing at to learn more. For more on personal well-being, visit

Copyright 2017 Creators Syndicate Inc.


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