how to achieve lasting happiness

how to achieve lasting happiness

“Happiness is determined more by one’s state of mind than by external events.”

“Whether our action is wholesome or unwholesome depends on whether that action or deed arises from a disciplined or undisciplined state of mind. It is felt that a disciplined mind leads to happiness and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering, and in fact it is said that bringing about discipline within one’s mind is the essence of the Buddha’s teaching.”

― Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness

Happiness plays a significant role in our lives. If you ask people about the purpose of life as a whole, most of them would give answers that would boil down to one key truth: we are all seeking happiness in one form or another. Yet, we all perceive happiness as something obscure and elusive, and lack a clear understanding of what truly makes us happy. 

External events can influence our happiness in the short-term, however our level of happiness soon falls back to a certain ground level not too long after a particular event. For instance, winning the lottery might induce a transient spike in happiness, yet this “high” dissolves in thin air very soon after that. In a similar manner, people who go through trauma or encounter a sudden and tragic health issue like paralysis or a diagnosis of a terminal illness usually, after a period of setback and grief, redeem their previously lost level of happiness. Hence if we zoom out and evaluate, we realize that no single external situation can really affect our happiness in the long haul. 

According to the Dalai Lama, training one’s mind is the key to developing long-term happiness. Our mental state shapes the lens through which we look at the world. For instance, when we are sad, disappointed or angry, even our loved ones and close friends can seem cold, distant and hostile. This is why the Dalai Lama advises to systematically train our minds so that we identify and develop positive mental states while getting rid of the negative ones. This is by no means an overnight transformation, but over time it definitely brings calmness and serenity within us that helps us live a happy and joyous life no matter what kind of situation we find ourselves in.


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