Have you ever wondered why some people always seem to be happy while others never are? This question takes us to the heart of the Buddhism idea our true selves.
According to Buddhism, human nature is generous and altruistic. Buddha taught that all people suffer from their own mental states, with feelings of discontent that come from desiring more and more. The Dalai Lama tells us that the feeling of not having enough and wanting more does not arise from the inherent desirability of the objects we are seeking, but from our own mental illusions. Buddha taught us how to end suffering by changing our states of mind, which translates into finding happiness through living a meaningful life.
Finding inner happiness beneath suffering, grief and discontent is never easy. Many of us are crippled by our past experiences or negative emotions. But past experiences, as heinous as some of them may be, are necessary because they help shape who we are, help influence our personalities and shape our core beliefs.
We attain true freedom and peace only when we quit our mental habits of reacting with cravings for stimuli like, ‘I’ve got to own that!’ or reacting with aversion by saying things like, ‘I can’t stand that!’ or by eliminating negative thoughts about ourselves such as, ‘I’ll never be good enough’.
When we quiet our minds, we allow for true peace, stillness and awareness to enter in. We begin to notice the beauty in nature when we go for a walk, enjoy our food as we eat, and connect more intimately with our friends.
There are various ways to help us find inner happiness but I’ve narrowed them down to three:
- Count your blessings and express gratitude everyday. Not just for the big things like owning a house or having a job, but for the ‘little’ things as well, like the sun shining on your face through a window even though it’s cold outside. Give yourself concentrated time with these thoughts of gratitude by writing them down.
- Cultivate optimism by looking on the bright side when things don’t go your way.
- Don’t dwell on negative things or make unhealthy comparisons between yourself and others. (I’m totally guilty of this one).
- Stay present. Buddhists maintain that the secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.
Although you may not be at a point where you can do all these things, start with one. Your life is your message to the world; make it inspiring by becoming the happiest person you know. Here’s a short video to give you some inspiration! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36m1o-tM05g