Creating happiness is not like following a cookery recipe. And when people say things like, ‘Be positive’, this is just placing another expectation or pressure on you.
But in fact, happiness is already there. And what you can get better at is realising that it is there – at nurturing and nourishing it with your mind and then your actions. Then, happiness blossoms. The mind’s natural state is one of clarity and luminosity. And so if you engage in the process of developing it, you will be able to see as you have never seen before.
The true nature you were born with is quite beautiful and full of love. Happiness is your nature. You don’t need to pursue it, and you don’t need to worry that someone else might take it away from you. You just need to realise it is right there, in your heart, always. Sometimes it just gets hidden away or covered over, so you can’t see it, but it’s still there, whether the sun shines or the rain pours.
Some philosophers have described happiness as a fleeting moment, a sensation that can only come along once in a while (otherwise we wouldn’t notice how much we like it). In a way this makes sense because we human beings are very talented at putting up obstacles between ourselves and our happiness – so much so that we only catch the odd glimpse of it beneath the turbulent surface of our minds that are filled with thoughts rushing around: worrying about life, worrying about what kind of person we are, what others think about us and why other people are so difficult all the time. But we can practise opening up our hearts and minds and allowing these glimpses to become wider and infuse our daily lives more.
Happiness is pleasure, of course. From eating a piece of chocolate to doing something we never thought possible – these are the fleeting moments of happiness. What we are really interested in, though, is developing a sustained sense of happiness from within. This happiness is our inspiration and motivation; it is our love, our empathy and compassion, our joyful effort and our generosity.
‘All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts and made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with a good thought, happiness follows him like a shadow that never leaves him.’ – The Dhammapada
We often say that life is very rare and precious, so why do we let chances slip by? I advise my friends and students that they have to be smart, seizing every opportunity for self-improvement and not giving themselves excuses to turn them down. It is easy to fall into the habit of keeping so busy doing nonsense that you miss opportunities that are right in front of you. But I encourage you to grab them. I know it isn’t always easy (sometimes I have to remind myself of my own advice), but as you cultivate and take care of your mind, it will take care of you and your happiness in this life.
Your sense of happiness right now, in this moment, is, of course, fed by your life
experiences – how your day is going, how you feel about the person you are and the path you are walking. But why not take this opportunity to turn things around; see that it is your happiness that can feed your life, how your day is going and who you are. Nurture your mind to loosen its grip on worries or fear, pressures to succeed, resentments or regrets, and instead look with love and generosity, embracing the potential in uncertainty, letting others be themselves, finding your inspiration. Let go of the conditions that you might have been placing on your happiness up to this point in your life. You don’t need a reason to be happy. Whether today is a challenging day. a creative day, a lazy day or a sad day, at its heart it can be a happy day.
From Happiness is a State of Mind © 2014 by His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa,
published by Yellow Kite, an imprint of Hodder Stoughton