How to Be Present, Alive, and Happy Regardless of the Circumstances

Why are there so many unhappy people with millions of dollars in their bank accounts, while others who have very little in theirs are contented in their life? We all know people in our lives who seemingly have everything but are inherently unhappy and dissatisfied with life. We also know others who don’t have much but are living life with happiness and vigor. Of course, the opposite is also true. Many would argue that it would be better to be rich and unhappy than to be poor, because they believe “freedom” as related to being able to “buy” happiness and satisfaction in life.

For the most part, people fall in the trap of the point of view of life: if I have (don’t have) something in life then I can do (not do) what I want and therefore, I can be or feel a certain way.

  • If I had $5 million, then I can quit my job and write my book and I’ll be happy with life.
  • If I had a good relationship, then I don’t have to search anymore and I can be happy in love.
  • If I had the right job, then I can do it well and I can be passionate about my work.
  • If I had the promotion or achievement or training or education, then I can show my superiors I can really perform and I can be a leader.
  • If I don’t have to raise my young children, then I can work in a career and I can be someone who makes a difference!

There’s nothing wrong with this point of view. However, this view tends to leave us chasing a “someday” future that has us mostly dissatisfied and unhappy in the present. In other words, we are never really here in the now (present). This is not to say we don’t have brief periods of joy and satisfaction, but they are just that–brief!

This view traps us into being constantly “going somewhere” as my Aikido sensei would say; rather than flowing and being “conscious” of (or creating) our true self.

When on the mat practicing Aikido, I get to focus on the here and now! The practice is to be easy with and to let go of whatever I’m worried about; thoughts rattling around in my head; or feelings, judgments, and assessments about how I am or others are doing. As I am training in this mode, I am present to the here and now and I get for myself that my Self (as distinct from “I”) is not related to the thoughts, feelings, judgments, assessments, or evaluations I’m so used to.

I discover the “nothingness” that my self is and what becomes available is I can choose to be anything. O’Sensei (founder of Aikido) chose to be Peace, Love, and Harmony. In this state of being, I can also choose and create myself as Peace, Love, and Harmony. So my practice is not about perfecting the techniques but using the techniques as an opportunity to express my self as I created and discovering when and where I’m stuck with the “going somewhere” or “becoming something” path. I get to be my true self during that time on the mat and I can create who I am in the moment.

I discovered I can take this to my life and not just leave it on the mat. I can create who I am being in the moment in life.

I discover, in my life, much like on the mat, I am mostly not present in the moment. Most of the time, I am trying to get somewhere and becoming something/someone. As such, I am only present to my thoughts, feelings, judgments, and assessment of where I am now versus where or who I’m “supposed” to be. If the circumstances look in favor of meeting my future goal, then I may be happy. Mostly, however, I’m left with suffering (large or small) that I’m not where or who I want to be.

When I get that I’m not present, I have access to being present in the moment. That there is nothing to deal with other than what’s in front of me right now. It’s the same as when I’m on the mat. I can then create who I am in the moment. If I am with my wife and children, for example, I can choose to create that I am a loving, fun husband and father, rather than being annoyed that my children are not following my directions or my wife is being self-righteous about how we should rear our kids. When I am a loving, fun husband and father, my actions are consistent with that and I can listen to what my wife has to say and have it empower our relationship and I can give my children directions from love and fun rather than forcing them to do as I say. This created way of being leaves me with power and freedom in my life now, not someday.

It is the being that gives the do’s and the have’s in life!

I get to be who I want to be now.

My actions then follow who I’m being.

I get to have the results of my actions but they do not affect who I’m being.

Therefore, my experience of life has nothing to do with my circumstances!

Enjoy your day and see you on the Mat!


Thanh Huynh
Leadership, Executive and Life Coach – San Jose, CA – San Francisco Bay Area

If you would like to chat with me about how I can help you move forward in your leadership and life, please email me at

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