As humans, much of our life is centered around happiness. The United States Declaration of Independence serves to protect “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. With the rising rates of depression, divorce and anxiety in our world, it seems that we are missing the mark when it comes to happiness. Or, is it that maybe we haven’t defined happiness correctly?

The Motion of our Life

The Dalai Lama once stated that the “motion of our life is towards happiness”. This suggests that even Buddhism believes that happiness is a central component of life. The difference is that Eastern views state that there are two different types of happiness.

1. Hedonism

This is the kind of happiness that one can get from the world. This would involve material objects – the kind of happiness attached to “things”. When the “thing” is gone, so is our happiness. This happiness drives our desire to earn, attain and upgrade.

A certain level of hedonism is necessary in life. We tend to become used to certain comforts depending on our past and perhaps what we were raised with. The problem comes in when we attain the minimum level required for us to be happy, but then we keep pushing to get more, and more, and more. The objects we have begin to define us and to even own us, and we no longer can differentiate between a want and a need.

2. Eudemonia

The literal translation of this word is “Human Flourishing”. It is genuine happiness or “ananda” – “bliss”. It is a happiness that is separate from fleeting emotions. It is a deep contentment and a sense of equanimity (to be at peace regardless of your circumstances).

This type of happiness goes beyond owning and acquiring physical objects.  It is the happiness that comes from within. You can achieve this happiness with the peace of mind that you are doing your best to live an ethical life.

How to pursue happiness

In essence, our life is moved by desire. We make choices and decisions to act in a certain direction based on these desires. The problem is that not every single desire that we have is worth following! This is where discernment comes in and we need the wisdom to follow that which serves our higher purpose, and not our momentary, fickle wants. This is what we call conative intelligence – being wise about where we put our energy, and the cultivation of intelligent intention. We ultimately need to define our goals, and make decisions that move us in the direction of those goals.

Lokha Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

“May all beings all over be happy and well”. This is a well-known Buddhist mantra. Monks will often walk in a circle and repeatedly chant this mantra. The reason they do this is because they are aligning all aspects of their being toward their goal – the body, speech and mind is focused. Their body is focused as they walk in circles and align their energy. Their speech is focused as they repeat the mantra. Their mind is focused as they are not mindlessly thinking about their dinner later in the day.

So, the question that needs to be asked:

Is what you do with your body, speech and mind in line with where you want to go in your life?

Lots of light and love xx

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