I get it, I get it… So ultimate ‘happiness from within’ is reaching a state of complete non-dependency from all external emotional, physical and materialistic needs…
So in order to achieve that, we need to abstain from every craving we have! Or do we need to turn every craving to a mere want, and not to depend on it for happiness! Is that even possible? So if one watches something or sees something or even eats something that makes them happy, that is gaining happiness from outside sources? Or is happiness the illumination of sadness and pain? Is it about rising above the external things that make u happy? Or rising about whatever the lack of which makes you sad?
This subject overly consumed me for the past weeks. How am I supposed to reach happiness or ever be happy if I don’t even know what it is? Is it possible that until this age, I am still oblivious of what happiness is? Are religious, married, well-paid, healthy, optimistic people the happiest? Sometimes I feel that it is nothing but a momentary feeling, something like an orgasm, you work for it, want it, but it only lasts a few seconds and other times, I think it is just feeling being satisfied with whatever you have and every other definition is only an illusion.
Philosophers, thinkers, psychiatrists and activists all have considered happiness as the ultimate goal. There is one research out there that suggests that religious people, specifically Protestants, Buddhists and Catholics and the most satisfied of the religious sects, but that is probably a discussion for another time. I believe in a higher Power, but not religious conformities and socially dictated religious worship, does that make me less spiritual than people who follow a certain written script telling them how to live their lives,… does that make me less likely to reach ultimate happiness? Is that not by itself an external source of happiness?!!
In an attempt to understand all this, I started by rereading the Buddha teachings of Happiness… don’t know why, but I had to start somewhere. Coincidently, I was in an Airbnb about a year and half ago, in this very hippie townhouse in San Francisco and the owners left this book on the bed Buddhist Teachings on Awakening and True Happiness, my fastest read ever and, as much as I hate to admit it, I am a very slow reader. I bought the book then but probably the words didn’t sink in right at that time. Anyways I suddenly remembered I have it and reread it in addition to many more articles.
According to my humble understanding of his teachings, he saw that humans need to first eliminate Dukkha (suffering or mental dysfunction) in order to be able to achieve happiness and that he believed that this mental dysfunction/suffering arsis from our ignorance and false knowledge of the reality we are living in. He explains that through the Four Noble Truths: 1.Life is/means Dukkha 2.Dukkha arises from craving. 3.Dukkha can be eliminated. 4.The path to the elimination of Dukkha is the Eightfold Path.
So… in short, one needs to abolish suffering by functioning the mind to think right! That sounds complicated… so lets me understand the Eightfold Path!
The Eightfold Path are the factors needed to achieve happiness, where basically he sees that wisdom and compassion are the main qualities needed to reach perfection as a human. The Eightfold path can be divided into three parts:
- Wisdom: which basically is based on love and compassion to reach 1.Right understanding and 2. Right thought.
- Ethical Conduct: which need 3. Right Speech, 4. Right action and 5. Right livelihood, to be achieved.
- Mental Cultivation: is living in the NOW, where one is not preoccupied by the future nor imprisoned in the past and experiencing each and every moment with openness. It is being mentally disciplined and reach a deeper concentration in order to alter or elevate the mind by removing impure intentions, shut off the mind to achieve bliss, then bliss disappears and is replaced by total peace of mind. They include the remaining three factors 6. Right effort, 7. Right mindfulness and 8. Right concentration.
Ok… thus basically one should understand their lives, aim to remove their cravings, that if one had to live without, they would be in Dukka, and become a better person through ethics of speech, action and then do the effort of meditation.
So it is like Yoda Said;
Psychologist, on the other hand have reached some kind of definition about happiness around the 1990’s, finally, that might be different from the Buddha way, which is: being in a state of well-being, where the person has a sense of meaning or purpose along with deep satisfaction, in addition to indulging in small pleasures, overcoming challenges, reaching goals, having close social connections, having a higher purpose…etc, with of course the financial stability to not have to worry about the basics in life.
Another thought says, that if one enjoys some external source, food, sex, sitting on the beach or a relationship be it and that brings them happiness, one is merely projecting from the internal happiness from within. That is… one has noticed the external source, accepted the goodness of that source and this acceptance and appreciation makes them happy about life. Therefore it is the whole experience that makes us happy. Thus, even if it appears that happiness is coming from an external source, it is in reality a process that happens from within you. However, people can master this process and find internal factors or qualities within themselves that make this acceptance and appreciation of life from within. Simply put, we need to learn to notice, accept, appreciate ourselves, everything and everyone around us. It is our internal feelings and how we interpret life around us that creates happiness, not the materials!
I am sorry, but nobody can think positive all the time, and some sources of happiness are external, like social interactions and human relations and making a difference in the world, or what ever rocks your boat for happiness, but they exist.
I am leaning towards this belief: It is the non-dependency on such sources as the only sources of happiness is the key! Humans should accept all their emotions, positive be it or negative, that is what makes them human; eliminating sadness or pain should be a goal, but experiencing the pains of life is also normal. It’s the road to happiness is what would make us happy people, it’s in the journey, the process of trying to be ultimately happy, but reaching it is probably an illusion! Simply aim to eliminate your fears and dependencies … and non-dependence on external sources or materialistic sources has nothing to do with experiencing life’s pleasures and appreciating them either.
We as humans need emotional connections and support, … we are social beings, our instincts never have led us to solitude, although it is sometimes needed for clearance of mind, so technically we could survive on our own, but not as a lifestyle.
Looking into myself, and after brainstorming internally on this subject, I found out that my challenging dependency that I need to work on is to love without being emotionally dependent… here is where the tables get turned and I find myself attached and weak and completely dominated! This is my Work!
I will continue to look into this further and probably as the time goes by, I will have more to add to this open-ended search for an answer.