Happiness and Reality

By Matthieu Ricard on April 20, 2009

Happiness is, to begin with, a love of life. To have lost all reason for living is to open up an abyss of suffering. As important as external conditions may be, suffering, like well-being, is essentially an state of mind. Understanding that is the key prerequisite to a life worth living. What mental conditions will sap our joie de vivre, and which will nourish it?
Changing the way we see the world does not imply naive optimism or some superficial euphoria. So long as we are prone to the dissatisfaction and frustration that arise from the confusion that rules our minds, it will be just as futile to tell ourselves ‟I'm happy! I'm happy!” over and over again as it would be to repaint a wall in ruins. The search for happiness is not about looking at life through rose-colored glasses or blinding oneself to the pain and imperfections of the world. Nor is happiness a state of exaltation to be perpetuated at all costs: it is the purging of mental toxins, such as hatred and obsession, that literally poison the mind. It is also about learning how to put things in perspective and reduce the gap between appearances and reality. To that end we must acquire a better knowledge of how the mind works and a more accurate insight into the nature of things, for in its deepest sense, suffering is intimately linked to a misapprehension of the nature of reality.