What is happiness? Happiness is a feeling, it is a state of mind where we feel pleasure and enjoyment. Unfortunately, in our culture, the true feeling of happiness is often hard to obtain or is fleeting as we mentally equate happiness with achievement and the fulfillment of life situations and material things.
Regrettably, material things and achievements do not provide lasting happiness; although they may give us some joy, this type of happiness never lasts and dissipates rather quickly as our mind wants new things or starts to focus on the things that we don’t have.
Happiness is a State of Mind
True happiness is a state of mind and is not dependent upon objects or achievements. It turns out that only a small percentage of people’s reports on happiness can be explained by their actual life circumstances. It appears that the real key to happiness lies within our own thoughts and behaviors.
If you’ve been looking for happiness, which we all are, the good news is that the answer relies on controlling our own thoughts and actions.
Buddha, summed this up best by stating…
” Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are it solely relies on what you think.”
Learning to control our thoughts in order to cultivate happiness is both an easy and a complex thing; as we all know, our thoughts can get the best of us at times, and trying to control them can often backfire.
So, if our thoughts are the key to happiness how do we learn to control them. Unfortunately, in our Western Culture, we are not taught to believe that we can learn to cultivate and grow love, compassion, and happiness. In the East, and especially in Buddhism the whole system is based on teaching people how to develop the same joyful state of mind of the original Buddha, and that every person with practice, can become a Buddha themselves.
So how do we cultivate more love and happiness in our life?
According to Buddhism, in order to be happy we need to learn to cultivate mindful awareness and loving compassion; both of which can be built up through meditational awareness.
The key to mindfulness relies on learning to live fully in the present moment. This moment is all we really have and it is at the moment that the spring of joy emanates, if you will only let it. We normally habitually bounce from one thought to the next, with each thought usually taking us out of the moment and into worry, stress or thinking about something that has no reference to the here and now.
Remember, Happiness is a state of mind, and the more we learn to accept life and ourselves as we are at the moment, the happier we will be. This does not mean to stop striving to become better, it only means to learn to accept and love yourself, this moment and your current surroundings the best you can.
Cultivating The Art of Loving Presence
Living in the moment with Love and compassion towards yourself and others is the secret to a happy and joyful life. As Westerners we tend to be judgmental towards ourselves and others and as a result are not as happy as we could be. Non-judgment, empathy, and compassion are aspects that we can grow and learn to develop more and more in our lives.
The key is to be mindful of our own thoughts and to catch ourselves when we are being non-loving and judgmental towards ourselves and others. When you catch your mind being judgmental and non-loving in the moment, then replace the thought with a new and more loving thought and after a while, you will start to retrain your mind to be more loving and joyful. If you are being judgmental toward another person, then take a deep breath and look for a good quality in this other person, or reflect back on yourself and ask what do I have to be grateful for in this moment. Try to view other people from the loving eyes of a nonjudgmental grandmother and seek out and dwell upon their good qualities.
Below are some quotes from a few wise people that seem to understand what happiness is all about.
“There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.” –Thich Nhat Hanh
“Compassion automatically brings happiness and calmness.” –The Dalai Lama
“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” — Abraham Lincoln
“Happiness blooms naturally in the hearts of those who are inwardly free… It flows spontaneously, like a mountain spring after April showers, in minds that are contented with simple living.” – Paramhansa Yogananda
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” — Mahatma Gandhi
“Remember, happiness doesn’t depend upon who you are or what you have, it depends solely upon what you think.” — Dale Carnegie
“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it… As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve and life begins to flow with joy and ease.” — Eckhart Tolle