When we think about happiness it seems quite a simple subject. It seems very attainable, yet very few people are truly happy. This isn’t through lack of trying, every day millions of people work very hard and spend large sums of money yet they don’t become any happier. Also it isn’t due to not wishing to be happy, we all want to be happy, we all want happiness more than anything. We find it hard to tolerate even the slightest discomfort.
WHY IS HAPPINESS SO ELUSIVE?
It is because we are looking for it in the wrong places. Happiness is a state of mind. We cannot make ourselves happy by accumulating possessions, watching TV or continuously making changes in our life. People have tried this approach year after year, generation after generation and it has never worked. There are more and more depressed people about than ever. Stress and anxiety are reaching epidemic proportions.
Buddha said that we should check whether our actions lead to the results we expect. If we did this we would be forced to conclude that they don’t. We engage in actions that we expect to lead to happiness and when they don’t we just do them again and again and again and are surprised when they don’t make us happy.
For example, we expect that buying a new car will make us happy. We buy one and feel excited for a few days then we are back in the same position as we were before – needy and discontented, so then we look for something else to buy and the cycle continues.
If we are logical we must realize that we need a different approach in our search for happiness. Pieces of plastic and metal cannot make us happiness. Our happiness needs to come from within our minds. We can’t rely on external objects for our happiness, we need to learn to cultivate happy states of mind for ourself.
Odiyana Buddhist Centre is running a 9 week course based on the widely renowned ‘8 Verses of Training the Mind’ which was composed in the 11th century. This book shows us where to find real happiness. If we apply these instructions diligently we will definitely become happier. These instructions worked in 11th century Tibet and are just as relevant to modern day England. Our external world may have changed a lot but our basic problems haven’t changed very much.