By looking at the definition of happiness alone, one could come to the conclusion that there are two ways of approaching happiness in life.
To learn how to change reality to fits our want.
To learn how to change our wants to fit the reality.
A mix and match between the two approach is also possible. Either way both are ways of achieving happiness by synchronizing our wants and reality.
The first approach is the common approach that we, humans, use to find happiness which is to do our best to change reality to fits our want. There are two major fallacies in this approach to happiness.
1. The chasing of our want is bounded to make us unhappy.
The first way of approaching happiness in life is to work from the outside in. Its goal is to find the best ways to change reality to fit our wants while leaving our wants static, unchanging and unquestioned across time and space. It asks questions like “How do I get what I want? How do I become better and more powerful at getting what I want?” It’s the question of how, not why.
But the fact of life is that we can’t always get what we want. Life does not always goes according to what we want. Often times than not, there are too many things in which we can not change the reality to be like how we want. These could be something as obvious as death, sickness, and old-age. It could be our inability to control others’ thought, speech, and action. It even could be something as trivial as a stomachache in which we can’t command it to stop being painful.
In scenarios like these where we want to change the reality that cannot be changed or it is impossible for us to control the reality to be like our want, this first approach of pursuing happiness will not only fail at making us happy, but worse, make us unhappy.
2. Overlooking Ourselves
The second fallacies in this first approach is that it focuses only on changing what is outside of us that we have overlooked how to change what is inside of us. Our mind, if untrained, takes over our lives.
An untrained mind is ever expanding in its demand of the reality. When we are rich we want to be richer. When we see someone who is happy, we too want to be like them. When we see our friends succeed sometimes we can’t help but feel a sense of jealousy or inferiority. There is no end to our want. Imagine if there is a million of things that we want but have not achieved, then we have a million things that are unsatisfactory in our lives. That does not sounds like a good, happy, and fulfilling life. When we infinitely want things from the reality then we infinitely must suffer from our unending chase of happiness.
Could we demand the dead to come back to life? The obvious answer is no. Could we expect everyone to like us without being disliked? The answer is very unlikely. Even though we all know these facts but still our mind will not easily accept it. When someone talked behind our back, we become agitated and wish that person to stop. When someone we love passed away, we wish that person would still be alive with us. An untrained mind does not play by the rules or law of the universe. It does not live with reality. It takes in, hold on and grab whatever that it likes and push away or destroy all that it does not like.
Reality is never satisfactory with our expanding minds wanting the impossible. With our untrained minds, we are stuck in the situation where we have unchanging want in an ever changing reality, unrealistic want in a realistic reality, and an infinite want in a finite reality. And naturally, we end up being the ones who suffer.
In summary, the cause of our happiness depends on how much we allow ourselves to be happy. In other words, how much can we master our own mind. The less you know about your mind and its nature, the less control you have over it. And inversely, the more unhappiness you will have in your life. I believe this is why Horace, a famous greek philosopher, said this:
“Rule your mind or it will rule you.”
The next section, “How to Attain Happiness?”, will introduce to you to the other missing half of achieving True Happiness. It will introduce you to the basics of mind training and how it is imperative to our happiness.