Being Happy

There are many competing ideas in the world today as to how to be happy. The prevailing model in the Western world tends to equate it with success in career or material terms or to project our desire for happiness onto another person and seek it in a relationship. The difficulty with this is that it makes our happiness contingent on external events or on other people.

Another model, which is at the heart of mindfulness practice, sees happiness as coming from within, when we remove the conditions in our lives that lead to suffering. This happens when when the mind is not in contention with what is going on in our lives at that moment. Happiness thus comes from the minds ability to meet all circumstances, whether desired or not, with compassion and openness. It is related to what is already in our lives, often unnoticed, and not to what we wish we could have, or wanting other.

Happiness is the cessation of suffering. It is well-being. For instance, when I practice this exercise of breathing in, I’m aware of my eyes; breathing out, I smile to my eyes and realize that they are still in good condition. There is a paradise of form and colors in the world. And because you have eyes still in good condition, you can get in touch with the paradise. So when I become aware of my eyes, I touch one of the conditions of happiness. And when I touch it, happiness comes.

Thich Nhat Hahn

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