Happiness is an elusive term. The more you pursue it, the more elusive it seems. It is a relative state of mind.
Chris Gardner, in the movie The Pursuit of Happyness, experienced tears rolling down his cheeks and immense joy when his internship ended with a full-time position during a time of homelessness. He was probably happier for his son than for himself.
Happiness is an emotion that, when experienced, makes us more human. It expands our consciousness. The real pursuit of it lies in a different kind of search. A search that can hold it moment by moment. A search that can transcend our boundaries of ego and strive for the joy of others. A search that can make us more compassionate for fellow beings. This kind of search has some clear and well-defined qualities.
The direction of the search is always inwards. For example, when we are in a moment of extreme trouble or sadness, we try our best to change the outer circumstance so that it can give us a different kind of experience. In this way, we are always dependent on the outer circumstances to lead us to happiness.
There is no source in your external world that can give happiness. Outer experiences can give you pleasure, and pleasure may lead to happiness, but it can go away at any moment. It is very fragile. So we struggle so much to retain such pleasures.
Happiness, however, has the exact opposite qualities of sensory pleasure. It is unchanging, and it expands our sense of self. It helps us reach out and give to others. Sensory pleasure can be found in the pursuit of outer world, but happiness can be found within.
There is a rich treasure within and it is waiting to be discovered. It is waiting for you to become aware of it. It exists within you, and there is no other source or means for it. You are a rich source of it.
How do you come in contact with it when it is completely within you? It is the very nature, or svabhava, of you. When you are in distress or anxiety, realize that this distress is not the real you. You are happiness — and you have the right and power to bring it out to influence your outer reality. In fact, you are changing your very life right now with this understanding.
Until now, you might have felt that the external environment is influencing you, that you are powerless. With this new understanding that you are the happiness, you can feel it and make it real in your experience. You can influence your outer reality and circumstances by simply feeling this unchanging happiness within you.
Happiness is a moment-by-moment Truth. You cannot reach it by holding onto an experience of it or a future anticipation of it. Living in the moment, we let go of all the stress and struggle to achieve, to become. The pursuit of happiness lies not in any approach or way, but in realizing that happiness is the way. We need not live in any other way — when we live Happiness as the way.
Happiness — or ananda — according to Patanjali’s Yoga sutras, is one of the five subtle bodies. It is the most fundamental and primordial aspect of our being. Patanjali says Ananda is our True Nature. Happiness and our True Nature are inseparable. Whenever you are experiencing happiness, realize you are in touch with your True Nature. It is the Real You.
How can one ever pursue something that is already you? You must acknowledge it, be with it, embrace it, live with it, wonder at it, dance with it, immerse in it. Then, let it permeate into all aspects of your life — your relationships, your work, your daily chores like cooking, washing, taking care of children or even bathing. Allow it into your life more and more and you will reach a point where you have no room for anger, frustration or anxiety within you. You reach the state of non-duality, where polarities of life simply pass by you.