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Unconditional Happiness – Ditch The Checklist, Find Your Joy

Susan is an ICF accredited Life Coach and an avid adventurer who embraces singlehood while constantly challenging herself. As a confident single woman, Susan shares and inspires widely about her breakthroughs beyond self-imposed limitations.

Executive Contributor Susan Fong

Have you ever felt like happiness was just out of reach, a reward waiting for you at the finish line of life's achievements? Many single women fall into this trap, chasing a picture-perfect life that leaves them feeling empty. I used to be one of them.

Back view of jumping girl on the pie

I've always considered myself a happy person. It's what my conscience told me – that I have a good life and that I am lucky, so I should be happy.


Growing up in a childhood environment where the only love languages expressed were through acts of service, I struggled to recognize and appreciate being loved or feeling loved. Looking back, I realize this shaped my belief that happiness came from doing good and being of service to others.


I chased this idea relentlessly, hoping that each achievement would bring me closer to a sense of fulfilment and lasting happiness. I want to do good, so I chose a vocation in the non-profit sectors to devote my service to helping the needy, I volunteered tirelessly and even envisioned a picture-perfect family life – a caring companion and children of my own. I have a full bucket list to travel and explore the world.


While I celebrate each box of milestones and achievements ticked with pride, I find myself increasingly discontented and unfulfilled.


One day, it hit me: I was playing a rigged game. Fear of failure and self-doubt, those inner saboteurs, were whispering that true happiness only existed on the other side of some distant finish line. I was living in the pursuit of conditional happiness, only to find it continually unfulfilling and bringing unhappiness.


I began challenging these limiting beliefs. I questioned why my well-being should be conditioned by external validation or the fulfilment of societal expectations. Happiness shouldn't be a checklist, it shouldn’t be conditional. Conditional happiness is not true happiness, it is just temporary, and not sustainable. Being trapped in the pursuit of conditional happiness means constantly feeling that I am not happy now and that I will be happy if or when I have more boxes ticked.


This new perspective wasn't easy. It meant confronting my fears head-on, dismantling the walls of self-doubts. It meant embracing self-compassion and learning to love and accept myself – flaws and all. It is still a work in progress, perhaps a lifelong journey to be mindful of not falling into the same trap in search of happiness.


The key to unlocking this new kind of happiness wasn't about doing more, but about being present. I have learned a few things that work for me, that I now share with you:


Embrace the journey

Be gentle with yourself

I've come to realize that practicing self-compassion is crucial to navigating life's twists and turns. Understanding that setbacks and imperfections are simply part of the journey and not a detrimental end. I learn to love myself even more. After all, who else deserves greater and unconditional love than ourselves?


Understand yourself

Self-awareness is empowering. Recognizing my strengths and weaknesses allows for authentic growth. Regularly practicing gratitude fosters a lasting sense of happiness, as neuroscientist Alex Korb suggests [1]. Make choices that resonate with your desires, not societal expectations.


Confront your fear

Courageously facing my fears and insecurities head-on has been a transformative experience. I've come to understand that often, what holds me back from unconditional happiness are the fears lingering in the shadows. By confronting them, I am liberated and hold the power to take control of my happiness.


Find your spark

Find the right catalyst

I've learned the importance of seeking out people, experiences, or practices that ignite positive change within me. Whether it's a mentor, a supportive friend, exploring new paths, change from an old habit, surrounding myself with influences that inspire growth has been invaluable.


Identify your saboteurs

Saboteurs are negative emotions that hinder happiness. These saboteurs often manifested as self-doubt, comparison, anger, or fear of failure. Acknowledging them was the first step, and then refusing to let them dictate my happiness.


Set realistic expectations

Understanding that happiness isn't a constant state but rather a journey filled with peaks and valleys has shifted my perspective. I've learned to set realistic expectations, embracing the being rather than the doing. Practice being fully present in the moment, without judgment or attachment to outcomes.


Find your passions and happiness

Discovering what sets my soul on fire has been a game-changer. Cultivating my passions has provided me with a source of inner strength and resilience, regardless of external circumstances.


Happiness, I now understand, isn't a transaction. It's a recognition of our inherent worth, a celebration of our unique selves. We are human beings, not human doings. And within that realization lies the key to unlocking a life of boundless joy and fulfilment. So, dare to embrace the fullness of who you are, and let your radiant authenticity illuminate the path to unconditional happiness.

Have you ever felt stuck in the pursuit of conditional happiness? We'd love to hear from you! Take a brief survey to share your experiences and help us understand more about the journey to unconditional happiness. Your responses will contribute to creating resources that empower individuals like yourself to live authentically and joyfully.

Click here for the survey link.

Note: Korb, A., 2015. The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time


Susan Fong,  Life Coach

Susan is an ICF accredited Life Coach and an avid adventurer who embraces singlehood while constantly challenging herself. As a confident single woman, Susan shares and inspires widely about her breakthroughs beyond self-imposed limitations. Her overarching mission is to assist singles in overcoming self-doubts and social stigmas so they can live fulfilling lives. Susan's coaching prowess is enriched by her diverse background as a humanitarian professional in the development sector. Having worked internationally with individuals from various ethnic backgrounds, ranging from grassroots communities to executive levels, Susan brings a unique understanding of human dynamics and cultural sensitivities to her practice.



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