It’s said that happiness is an inside job. What does this mean? It means that searching for happiness outside of ourselves only works in the temporary sense. It’s fleeting. Searching for happiness in material goods, sex, travel experiences, food and drink, etc. can bring us pleasure for a time, but it eventually goes away. If you want to be truly happy – the kind of happy that stays with you always – you need to realize that it comes from your higher Self, your inner light, your essence, your soul. The more we practice getting in touch with this essence of who we really are, the happier we become.
Buddhism teaches us that contentment, or true happiness, is one of the main goals of living a human life. (That's right: Forget Happy, 'Be Content' Instead.) In fact, throughout the ages, spiritual traditions across the globe have been teaching us that to find happiness, we must turn inward. That’s why meditation plays such a primary role within these ancient wisdom traditions. But society and culture don’t teach us this, which is why so many of us are so unhappy.
Here we'll teach you five places where you'll actually find lasting happiness. First, though, we'll start with where you won't.
Where You WON'T Find Happiness
Our society teaches us that in order to be happy we must own things. A large home, a fancy car with all the latest gadgets... now that’s happiness – so they say. Not to mention the wife, kids, white picket fence and the 401k with stock options.
Then there’s the fashion industry that sends messages to men and women that they must look a certain way in order to fit in – in order to be happy. Deep down we all know that this is a false happiness. Yes, we can appreciate a beautifully knitted summer dress or a pair of Italian leather boots and for some of us, we really feel good when we’re surrounded by such beauty. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, we must remember to enjoy these things without making our happiness depend on them. If we do, we’ll lose out on all the joys that come from the simple things.
So, how do we access that inner joy? Well, we can do a number of things. One of the first things we can do is to tap into our innate Divinity.
Where You WILL Find Happiness
We need to know on a deep, deep level that we’re not separate from God. We’re not separate from one another, from nature, or from any living being on this earth plane. We are all divine and we’re all connected. When we really get this, when we feel deeply connected, lasting contentment is a natural byproduct.
We can also spend as much time with Mother Earth as possible. In other words – get outside and enjoy the abundance nature provides. The Ayurvedic tradition of yoga teaches us that we must be aligned with nature in order to be happy and healthy. It tells us that one of the great ills of modern living is our disconnect with nature. So, get outside every day. Walk adorable doggies. Build snow men in the winter. Swim in natural bodies of water in the summer and take long walks in the spring and fall. (You can also connect to nature when you Get Grounded Through 'Earthing.')
Meditation is probably the most powerful way to connect to that soul essence that is unchanging, full of love, light and unending happiness. Try sitting in quiet contemplation every day – even if only for a few minutes. With time you'll want to increase the length of your meditation practice because it feels so good. Ever wonder why the Dalai Lama is so happy? His long hours of meditation practice have everything to do with his Buddha-like contentment. (Get your practice started today with these 6 Steps to Starting a Meditation Practice for Beginners.)
Practice self-care. When you treat yourself really well by eating whole foods that are full of micro-nutrients, you’re supporting your mental, emotional and physical health. This is key to internal happiness because nutrition, good sleep, relaxation and radical self-care keeps us feeling our best. In this way, we’re truly being kind to ourselves, which breeds a quiet happiness that remains with you at all times. (Learn more in Mind-Body Health and Happiness.)
Caring for Others
We also want to be kind to others. According to Tibetan Buddhism, having loving compassion for all living beings is one of the great paths to happiness. Think of the ways you can be less self-centered and more selfless and serving. Being of service connects you to all living beings and connection breeds happiness. While we’re being kind we must also practice self-acceptance. This is key to cultivating long-lasting internal happiness.
Trust. Love. Accept.
Accept exactly where you are in life. Accept all the so-called flaws and failures (They’re not really flaws or failures anyway, that’s just the ego talking.). Trust that you are who you are for a reason and that you’re exactly where you need to be in this moment. Then, be grateful. You’re on a soul journey for reasons you might not be aware of at this moment, but which will reveal themselves someday. Trust. Love. Accept. By knowing these truths, happiness will be your lifelong companion. (Read on in Live 'Happily Ever After' With These Top 3 Benefits of Meditation.)