Happiness is one of those elusive states of mind that is defined by each and every person. And for every person who attempts to do so, there will probably be a different response. For some, happiness means having that perfect job or career, finding that perfect significant other, having an abundance of money, having the ability to travel, experiencing good health, having friends, and the list goes on and on. What makes one person happy may be nowhere near to being on another person’s radar.
So how can we attain this state of being when we can’t even come to an agreement about what happiness is? I have personally experienced and many have also shared with me (as a friend, minister and counselor) that above and beyond all those things we believe would make us happy — even once those things are attained — there is still a “vacuum” within ourselves that needs to be filled to attain that state of being called happiness.
Some years ago, I was in a state of mind that I gave thought to suicide. As I looked back on my life experiences, I came to understand that all that I wanted was to have my circumstances change, or at least lighten up. I wanted to be free of difficult circumstances so I could breathe and the pain inside of my mental, emotional and even physical self would, if not go away, at least lessen.
At that time, I didn’t realize that I was looking for happiness.
After years of suffering, reading, studying, practicing and introspection, I believe that I found the secret to obtaining what we call happiness. The irony of it all was that what I had been seeking was a part of me all along, as close to me as the breath that I am breathing!
Happiness is peace of mind.
I learned that everything outside of myself is temporary, and none of them cause me to be happy. If I place my happiness on something or someone, then I am setting myself up for pain and suffering — the opposite of happiness or joy. I learned that my family, friends, career, home, ability to travel, sufficient finances, etc., are certainly things to be appreciated, but if my happiness is contingent upon any of these, then I shall live a life that is no different than a roller coaster ride. When I feel any of these are limited or lacking, I will be unhappy. Conversely, when they are in supply, then I am happy. But none of this is true happiness.
The secret to attaining happiness is to realize that happiness comes from within. People come and go in our lives. The amount of our financial abundance fluctuates. If we base our happiness upon things outside of ourselves, our emotions will change like the seasons — and happiness will constantly elude us.
The only thing this physical life guarantees us is change. So the key is to enjoy each life experience as much as possible — in each moment to the best of our ability. His Holiness the Dalai Lama told us: “There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called Yesterday and the other is called Tomorrow. Today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.”