What is happiness?

What is happiness?

Happiness is something we all seek in a variety of different ways. But, what actually is real happiness?

When I think of happiness, the first things that spring to mind include:

  • Peace of mind and the absence of mental disturbance.
  • A feeling of goodwill to others and the rest of the world.
  • A feeling of spontaneity and living in the moment.

I would say real happiness comes from within, from our state of mind; it is a state of consciousness. It is the happiness that is unaffected by outer circumstances. Real happiness does not depend on material success or material wealth, but from an inner sense of fulfilment – perhaps leading the life we were meant to lead. When there is real happiness and satisfaction, we feel joy springing from within. This happiness makes even the mundane interesting and the ordinary beautiful.

Absence of fear, worry, anxiety

If we have tension, fear or anxiety, we are not happy. For example, we might get a temporary thrill out of cheating someone. Part of us likes the danger, the excitement, but however hard we try, our conscience doesn’t allow us peace of mind. Real happiness can only come when we have peace of mind and are not thinking about the future or the past.

False happiness and real happiness

False happiness can involve mental hallucination, temporary pleasure or ego gratification, but this kind of happiness has no sense of inner peace. There is always the gnawing fear that it will soon dissipate. When we chase false happiness, our conscience is always biting us. Real happiness comes from a sense of self-giving and growing into a higher reality. When we pursue real happiness, our conscience is clear and we feel a reassuring sense that our happiness can last. Real happiness is never built on favourable circumstances in the outer world. Real happiness is built on offering something positive to the world.

Childlike simplicity

“The man is happiest who lives from day to day and asks no more, garnering the simple goodness of life.”

               – Euripides

If we have a childlike simplicity, we will find joy in the simplest of activities. We will feel happiness through the spontaneity of living in the present moment. This spontaneity means we are happy with who we are and are not trying to be someone else – just living as we are. This is real happiness because our mind has no complications to take away from the inner spontaneity of the soul.

Giving happiness

The soul’s philosophy is:
Give happiness constantly,
Give happiness unreservedly,
Give happiness unconditionally.

       – Sri Chinmoy 1

If we can’t give happiness to others, how can we expect to be happy ourselves? What we give, we will feel as a reality within ourselves. Sometimes we feel that happiness is limited and we need to find and hold onto it. But real happiness is something that can be given to others, something that spreads. When we give selflessly, we are able to learn a new type of happiness. As the Buddha said:

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

       – Gautama Buddha

Happiness that comes from within

Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
        – Abraham Lincoln

Sometimes we can look at the weather on a rainy day and say to ourselves: “It is a miserable day.” On other days, we may feel that the rain has a real charm. It’s not the weather that determines our happiness. It is our approach – our reaction to the weather. This shows how happiness stems from the way we look at the world, the way we see ourselves.

Following our inner call

True happiness
Is not a mental hallucination.
True happiness
Is not a complacent feeling.
True happiness
Is the spontaneous feeling of joy
That comes from knowing
You are doing the right thing
And leading a divine life.

– Sri Chinmoy 2

Sometimes, we just know we are doing what we are supposed to do. It may not be particularly glamorous or outwardly attractive, but we feel we are doing something that our soul wants us to do. Often we can be surprised at what is giving a sense of satisfaction. It requires us to try to listen to our inner voice, our conscience. It may require ignoring conventional wisdom or expectations. Only by listening to our inner voice can we know what will give us true fulfilment.

Acceptance

How do I find happiness?
I find happiness
By loving the world more,
Ever more.

       – Sri Chinmoy 3

We can never have real happiness if we constantly think in terms of superiority and inferiority: for example, if we are frequently comparing and judging ourself in relation to other people.

If we live to fulfil our desires, we will always be wanting something more, we will always feel unfulfilled, unsatisfied. If we get what we desire, we are temporarily relieved; but if we don’t get it, we will have great frustration. If we just accept and love, then we will know happiness.

What is happiness?

Happiness is the absence of negativity. It is a consciousness in which we feel grateful for the beauty of life. Happiness gives us peace of mind and a positive outlook on life. Happiness is a state of being that we want to share with other people.

 

  1. Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 6, Agni Press, 1998. []
  2. Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 91, Agni Press, 1983. []
  3. Sri Chinmoy, My Christmas-New Year-Vacation Aspiration-Prayers, Part 45, Agni Press, 2006. []
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