What is happiness? Here’s what Buddhism says

What is happiness?

We all strive for happiness, yet it seems to evade many of us. As our world becomes smaller through the use of technology, we can also feel more cut off from those who might help us live a better life.

Despite our best efforts create and engage with life, we often feel disconnected from it and lost when it comes to finding happiness.

It’s an elusive thing. So much so that people think they could never be happy. What’s more, many people don’t let themselves be happy.

Humans have a terrible habit of thinking that the sign of a good life is one through which we struggle and have to overcome obstacles.

But the truth is that we can find happiness in everyday moments if we let ourselves.

So what is happiness? We’ve gone with the perspective of Buddhism to help you realize that happiness is just a thought away.

1) Positive Thoughts for a Positive Life

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“Around us, life bursts with miracles–a glass of water, a ray of sunshine, a leaf, a caterpillar, a flower, laughter, raindrops. If you live in awareness, it is easy to see miracles everywhere. Each human being is a multiplicity of miracles. Eyes that see thousands of colors, shapes, and forms; ears that hear a bee flying or a thunderclap; a brain that ponders a speck of dust as easily as the entire cosmos; a heart that beats in rhythm with the heartbeat of all beings. When we are tired and feel discouraged by life’s daily struggles, we may not notice these miracles, but they are always there.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

When it comes to answering the question, “what is happiness?”, it’s no secret that positive psychology now holds a place among some of the top thought-changing processes of all time. While scholars and psychologists spend years focusing on what made people sad, positive psychology focuses on what makes people happy.

And with all of the studies and research that has been done in this relatively new field, we’ve come to understand that happiness is more of a state of mind than something that happens to us.

That’s good new and bad news. It’s good news for the people who choose to believe that and enact happy thoughts in their lives every day, or at least on a regular basis.

It’s bad news for the people who keep blaming their unhappiness on some external factor and expect it to go away on its own. The truth is that we have an incredible power to make ourselves happy just by changing our psychology, or our thoughts.

2) Think on It

“Meditation is a process of lightening up, of trusting the basic goodness of what we have and who we are, and of realizing that any wisdom that exists, exists in what we already have. We can lead our life so as to become more awake to who we are and what we’re doing rather than trying to improve or change or get rid of who we are or what we’re doing. The key is to wake up, to become more alert, more inquisitive and curious about ourselves.” ~Pema Chodron

If you think that meditation doesn’t have much to do with what happiness is, then you’re wrong.

Meditation is an ancient art and is continuing to gain popularity amongst western culture as more people buy into the idea that we can change our lives just by changing our thoughts.

Meditation allows us to clear our minds of not only negative thoughts, but positive thoughts as well, to create room for even better thoughts. When we are distressed or puzzled, meditation can help us find clarity and realize that much of what we worry about probably doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. It’s not just practitioners of mindfulness that say this. The neuroscience of happiness also shows that mindfulness can make you happier.

Practicing meditation can not only make you happier, according to Buddhist tradition, but it can make your brain change for the better. If you are struggling with thoughts that prevent you from feeling happy, or happier than you currently are, consider adding meditation to your routine to see if you can gain control that you think you don’t have. It’s there, waiting to be captured by you once again.

3) Keep the Faith

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“There are different levels of faith. First, clear faith refers to the joy and clarity and change in our perceptions that we experience when we hear about the qualities of the Three Jewels and the lives of the Buddha and the great teachers. Longing faith is experienced when we think about the latter and are filled with a great desire to know more about their qualities and to acquire these ourselves. Confident faith comes through practicing the Dharma, when we acquire complete confidence in the truth of the teachings and the enlightenment of the Buddha. Finally, when faith has become so much a part of ourselves that even if our lives were at risk we could never give it up, it has become irreversible faith.”- Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

There was a time when the word “faith” was synonymous with God. That’s not the case anymore.

If you want to find what happiness is, then faith is important to consider.

People are finding that believing in anything – the universe, God, or themselves – is enough to help them get out of bed in the morning and see where the day takes them.

Even from the perspective of a Buddhist who is happy, the notion of organized religion is not necessary to find such happiness.

In fact, many people who don’t believe in a “God” will tell you they are very happy with their lives. They usually do, however, believe in something bigger than what they can see and do themselves.

Many people like to refer to this as the universe, nature, or magic. Whatever it is that you want to call it, when you put your faith in something other than yourself, you find that things start to come your way.

So if organized religion is not your jam, consider getting to bigger things by taking a walk in nature, listening to a beautiful piece of music, or sleeping under a tree in the sun. This allows your thoughts to focus on gratitude instead of the unhappiness in your life.

And that can change everything.

4) Kindness and Love Always

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” – Dalai Lama

Whether you believe in God or some God-like vision is irrelevant. Many of the world’s religious leaders will tell you that being kind and giving love when and where you can is all that is required to live a good life.

Everyone from the Catholic pope to the Dalai Lama has said that being a good person is good enough.

Here’s what the Dalai Lama says about finding your purpose in life:

“I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy. From the very core of our being, we desire contentment. In my own limited experience I have found that the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warmhearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the principal source of success in life. Since we are not solely material creatures, it is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external development alone. The key is to develop inner peace.”

Do kind things and put others before yourself and you might find that you start to refocus your negativity into positivity and reap rewards bigger than you could have ever imagined. It turns out that there is a formula for being happy: think positive, meditate on positivity, practice kindness, believe in something, and love.

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Lachlan Brown

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the editor of Ideapod and founder of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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