Achieving Happiness—In Spite of All Odds

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Buildings and gray sky Berlin

Kat Eghdamian ©

“Freedom,” it is said, “is not a matter of place, but of condition.”

And so is happiness.

I know that things don’t always go as planned. I understand intellectually that life is difficult, challenging and full of tests that will ultimately make me a better person. I bear it, but I just can’t be happy about it. Not yet. When troubles come my way, I suck it up and inwardly I’m raging against it all. I may look like I’m handling it well, but behind the scenes I’m complaining. A lot.

Which means that I’m only human. But I could be a much happier and freer human if I could just let go a little more. We all could. I know I’m not the only one here.

Practicing radiant acquiescence

I want to practice letting go. Not just resigning to the unpleasant things of life and vicissitudes of fortune, but accepting it fully, wholly, and with radiant acquiescence.

Radiant acquiescence is letting go with a smile. It’s accepting something without protest, and accepting it in such a way as to shine brightly, vividly. Instead of resorting to sadness and grief when life seems unbearably difficult, instead of complaining that I never seem to get a break for more than five minutes, I could just let go and have faith that if I do my best and keep persevering that thing will work out. And from that I’ll be able to “shine forth like unto a radiant morn,” because I acquiesced, and radiantly.

The principle of radiant acquiescence, is as simple as it is challenging: To be content with God and whatever God has ordained for us.

Woman in industrial warehouse

Bobby Aazami ©

It’s also about learning how to be content with ourselves—and to be content with yourself means living life in such a way as to not commit the least iniquity within.

For how can you be content with God when you complain about all the adversities that you experience in life? And how can you be content with yourself when you’re complaining and unhappy? That my friends, is the crux of it.

This is not as a quick fix, by the way, but a lifelong endeavor. Relax.

If you’re like me and don’t always accept life’s complications with poise and grace and a smile, try to remember that happiness is always a choice. No matter what happens and what’s thrown in your path, you always have the freedom to chose to be happy. And by not focusing on the limitations in life (which can be a “veritable prison”), we can learn to find fulfillment.

“The confirmations of the Spirit” said ‘Abdu’l-Baha, “are all those powers and gifts which some are born with (and which men sometimes call genius), but for which others have to strive with infinite pains. They come to that man or woman who accepts his life with radiant acquiescence.” (‘Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 121)

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the bonus of radiant acquiescence is that it can basically open you up into becoming the best and most genius version of yourself.

Want more? Be sure to check out the translation of Madínatu’r-Ridá (City of Radiant Acquiescence) in Revelation of Baha’u’llah, Vol. 1 and  ‘Abdu’l-Baha in London, The Release.

Lindsay McComb is a writer, editor and designer. She lives in Oakland, works in San Francisco and drinks a lot of coffee. Her work can be found at