There's a difference between pleasure and happiness is that pleasure is fleeting and orchestrated, but true happiness is natural and spontaneous.
Everyone has moments of feeling on top of the world; maybe you won a race, got a promotion or had a baby — if you could bottle up the euphoria of falling in love, you'd be a millionaire. It's during these times that you might swear that happiness does in fact come from these things.
But this is a mistaken notion, and the reason we get fooled is because the mind quiets down during these kinds of experiences. You finally achieved the goal, so you stop obsessing about it — briefly.
When the mind is quiet, what follows is intense satisfaction, and you mistakenly think that happiness comes from these outer objects. By thinking this, we become insatiable and attached to these objects. This causes a lot of pain, fixation, clinging, suffering and denial.
The true reality of happiness is realizing that you can achieve this intense pleasure any time you want, without fulfilling outer desires. You can achieve this because happiness it is in you; it’s not "out there."
The very things we seek in life — happiness, peace and meaning — are here right now. You'll feel happiest when you begin to get to know who you are.
A few tips to recognizing your true self:
1. Define it, accept it and listen to it.
Define what happiness really is, and accept it. This means you must gain wisdom to know that happiness does not come from material possessions, people or situations. When you've gained this wisdom, listen to it and allow your mind, body and spirit to become quiet.
2. Tap into your original authentic nature.
Beginning a meditation practice is a great place to start.
3. Stop identifying with sickness or suffering as being who you are.
Let go of your story and drama around it; drop it. It’s not who you are, it’s just a story you keep repeating.
4. Develop a sense of humor and smile.
Even if your smile is fake, it might still produce a happy feeling, which will go a long way toward cultivating a long-term feeling of happiness.
5. Express gratitude.
Many of us could be happier if we practiced gratitude for what we already have, rather than looking to external forces to produce it.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com