We all share one thing in common: we want to be happy. This wish suffuses our actions, our thinking and our relationships with others. In contrast to the importance of the quest, the number of truly happy people we encounter is rather small. For 50.000 years humans have lived on this planet. We can send rockets into space, produce weapons of mass destruction and change the climate but we cannot establish daily happiness in our lives.
Philosophy, religion and ethics haven’t come up with a consensus on the topic. The media and businesses turn us into consumers rather than happy beings. It remains thus our responsibility to inquire together into the topic. An inquiry which has the potential to bring benefits to every single action we take.
What actually is happiness?
What keeps us from being contented?
Where can we find a reliable happiness?
The Buddha recommended to take a pause from the attempt to generate happiness by accumulating objects, experience or roles. As an alternative, he suggested to develop calm of mind and expansion of the heart. He pointed out ways to address stress, discontent and suffering. He promoted changes in the causes and conditions for suffering. Our hearts then naturally incline towards peace and ease. Once we take wise action to address the obstacles, happiness starts to flow effortlessly.
The constant push and pull around our likes and dislikes contracts the heart and confuses the mind. We spend much energy and time in a futile attempt to create ourselves a perfect world. If we investigate on a daily basis what we sacrifice our peace of mind for, we gain much insight on what binds up heart and mind. Happiness, the Buddha declared, is freedom from bondage in views, preferences, roles and problematic states of mind. Nothing is worth clinging to, was the guiding principle he suggested.