That was said by a buddhist monk considered the happiest man in the world after studies were conducted on his brain that showed the highest level ever seen in the area of positive emotions.
According to science, happiness is achieved by three different means:
50% is genetic
10% is circumstantial
40% is a skill that we need to cultivate
So how can we practise this skill and cultivate happiness?
Nurturing social connections
Acts of kindness
Living in the present
Working to achieve meaningful goals
Mind training or meditation
Belief in a higher purpose
There are two things that don’t bring happiness according to the studies: money and physical beauty. However, our security needs (food, shelter, safety) need to met. After that, money doesn’t really add to happiness.
Another important point is that human being adapt to changes. Therefore, changes such as getting married, a better job, beautiful housing and winning the lottery only bring temporary happiness. It is proved that after less than one year, lottery winners go back to their earlier levels of happiness. It also works the other way around. When something bad happens, it doesn’t take long for the happiness levels to return to normal.
What else has science learned about happiness or SWB (subjective well-being)?
Temperament is an important factor but some conditions such as being unemployed or living in a poor nation have a long lasting effect.
Some cultures have higher levels of happiness than others because happiness is valued more.
People in unstable or very poor nations have lower levels of happiness.
No one is happy all the time. Even the happiest people get unhappy sometimes.
Happiness is can be correlated with desirable consequences such as sociability, creativity, better marriages, better work performance, stronger physical immunity and resilience.
Happiness doesn’t come from pleasure but from working towards goals that are consistent with our values.
All in all, there are many things that are still uncertain about happiness. But one thing is certain: there’s not only one way to achieve it and a variety of factors play a part in it.
“If you can’t control it, let it go.”
That’s my favourite zen saying.
Letting go of control is a challenge. It requires a lot of practice. The truth is that life is unstable and it’s impossible to control what’s going to happen. Sometimes we have the false impression that we are in control but the truth is we are not. Life is unpredictable and anything can happen anytime, good or bad.
We can’t control other people and we can’t control the outcome of situations so we have to stop trying or we will only get frustrated and disappointed.
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature…Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller
If we accept the way things are, we can find peace.
That doesn’t mean we should settle for less in life. If there’s something you can do to change a bad situation or make things better, do it. If there’s nothing you can do at the moment, let go.
There are only two basic things that everybody wants: be happy and avoid suffering. If you think about it, all the other things are included in those two. If it’s that simple, why is it so difficult to be happy?
I’ll tell you why: because people don’t know what really makes them happy.
If something is a cause of happiness, it can never be a cause of suffering or pain. If you eat something delicious, it will bring you pleasure. If you eat it too much, it will give you a stomachache. You might love your job but if you work too much, you’ll be exhausted. And so on.
Therefore, none of these things can actually make you happy.
Nothing that you have or even that you do can make you happy. Only what you feel can bring real happiness.
You can feel love, compassion, respect, forgiveness, patience as much as you want and it will never cause you pain. Good feelings are the only true cause of happiness.