Happiness Comes From Within
You already have all the answers
When you read the words, “peace of mind,” what do you think of?
After more than a decade of working and studying what brings human beings real happiness, I know the words “peace of mind” can mean different things to different people.
For some, peace of mind comes from receiving other’s approval. These people believe that if everyone loves and thinks highly of them, they will be happy. Others equate peace of mind with possessing material things such as cars, expensive clothes, or a fabulous house. While some are convinced that landing a high-powered job, earning a college degree, finding one’s soul mate, having healthy children, or… as you know, the list can go on forever.
The one common thread that weaves all of the above examples together is they rely on external circumstances. In other words, peace of mind in these instances comes from the outside. But if that were the case, why are there countless stories, past and present, of people who have reached whatever external goal they’ve set for themselves but still find themselves miserable. Think of the celebrities who seem to have reached the peak of their success, yet they find themselves unhappy and become alcoholics, drug addicts, or even take their own lives.
Seeking happiness outside of ourselves is like waiting for sunshine in a cave facing north. — Tibetan proverb
There are about seven billion of us on this planet. Each of us views life through our personal filters and no single person sees the world in the same way.
The world that you see is actually completely of your own making. It seems very real because it’s the only world that you know, but in fact, it is just a representation of your many, many thoughts and feelings about your many, many experiences.
Your little world is like a solar system, in which you are the sun. The other planets (people, experiences, events) revolve around you. You see everything from your own unique place as the sun, the center of the universe. No one will ever have the same thoughts, experiences or feelings that you have had or will have.
The interesting twist is that everyone else is the sun in their own solar system, too.
We can sometimes see this reality with heartbreaking clarity: our inability to understand another person’s point of view, our different reactions to the exact same event, and our sadness when someone just doesn’t seem to understand us. They’re in their world. And you are in yours.
When we’re born, our minds were free from judgment about good or bad. We were blank slates that reacted to our immediate needs such as hunger or a need to sleep. By about the age of two and a half, our minds became more aware of our surroundings. We interpreted our experiences in the form of likes and dislikes. When we interpreted something as pleasant, we told ourselves, “I want more of that.” When we found an experience unpleasant, we said, “I don’t want that,” and we did our best to push it away.
I call these “egoic thoughts.” They are how you view the world. Think of egoic thoughts as you would when you put on a pair of sunglasses. Suddenly, the color of the lenses influences everything you see. In the case of egoic thoughts, they are lenses that cause us to suffer. When I say “suffer,” I’m not referring to what you experience when you burn your hand on a hot stove. Rather, I’m describing a mental state that is generated by desires and fears: Desires for money, a soul mate, wisdom, self-confidence, or being an enlightened being. And fears of losing any of the preceding if you have it, or never acquiring what you want if you don’t.
Egoic thoughts create suffering because they attempt to control or change whatever is occurring right now, rather than accepting circumstances as they are in the present. Egoic thoughts are an endless stream of mental commentary that labels experiences as good or bad, making us want more of certain things and less of others.
The key is to identify the egoic thoughts for what they are; they are simply patterns developed from a young age. Reminding yourself of this as they arise throughout the day will diminish their ability to cause suffering. Keep in mind that even positive experiences create suffering because we want more of them or we fear them coming to an end.
With enough practice, you’ll be able to experience true peace of mind regardless of your thoughts. You’ll disarm your egoic thoughts of their ability to want more or less of whatever desire or fear arises. Rather than rely on external circumstances to bring about happiness, peace of mind will come from within.
Author Unknown – This is the most well-known author of quotes. Many people say many things and other people pick up on those things that are said… It doesn’t matter who says what, really. If it makes someone smile, it’s worth writing down, so it becomes a famous quote. This book contains 13 famous quotes by unknown artists. I think there is an artist in all of us. So go ahead, say something. It might become a famous quote and make someone happy!
Albert Camus 1913-1960 – French Algerian author, journalist, and key philosopher. He was awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize for Literature “for his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times”. Through his works, he taught people how to “have a greater appreciation for life and happiness”.
Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-1882 – American lecturer, philosopher, essayist, and poet, best remembered for leading the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.
Aristotle 384 BC to 322 BC – Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology. Together with Plato and Socrates (Plato’s teacher), Aristotle is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. Aristotle’s writings were the first to create a comprehensive system of Western philosophy, encompassing morality and aesthetics, logic and science, politics and metaphysics.
Johann Walgang Von Goethe 1749-1832 – a German writer, drawer, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature side by side with Schiller. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. Goethe suffered from depression and was even suicidal and “shot his hero to save himself” in one of his key works of art. He also wrote beautiful quotes on happiness.
Bertrand Russell 1872-1970 – British author, humanist, logician, mathematician, pacifist and philosopher; received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950. Although he had a lonely childhood and often spoke about committing suicide, he somehow found a way to turn his life around and has written many things regarding positive thinking and happiness. He had two sons who were diagnosed as schizophrenic.
Dalai Lama – The 14th Dalai Lama (religious name: Tenzin Gyatso, shortened from Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, born Lhamo Dondrub, 6 July 1935, is the 14th and current Dalai Lama. Dalai Lamas are the most influential figures in the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, although the 14th has consolidated control over the other lineages in recent years. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, and is also well known for his lifelong advocacy for Tibetans inside and outside Tibet. Tibetans traditionally believe him to be the reincarnation of his predecessors and a manifestation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion.
Helen Keller 1880-1968 – American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. The story of how Keller’s teacher, Anne Sullivan, broke through the isolation imposed by a near complete lack of language, allowing the girl to blossom as she learned to communicate, has become widely known through the dramatic depictions of the play and film “The Miracle Worker”. Helen Keller was not born blind and deaf; it was not until she was 19 months old that she contracted an illness described by doctors as “an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain”, which might have been scarlet fever or meningitis. The illness did not last for a particularly long time, but it left her deaf and blind.
Thomas Jefferson 1743-1826 – The third President of the United States (1801–1809) and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776). An influential Founding Father, Jefferson envisioned America as a great “Empire of Liberty” that would promote republicanism. His oldest sister died when he was 22 and he fell into a deep period of mourning. Only 2 of his 6 children lived to adulthood. A few months after the birth of their last child, his wife Martha died. He never remarried and deeply mourned her loss. Even though he suffered many losses, he still found many ways to make a BIG impact on this world and was even found quoting words of happiness.
Abraham Lincoln 1809-1865 – The 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination. He successfully led the country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis—the American Civil War—preserving the Union while ending slavery and promoting economic modernization. Reared in a poor family on the western frontier, he was mostly self-educated. He became a country lawyer, an Illinois state legislator, and a one-term member of the United States House of Representatives but failed in two attempts at a seat in the United States Senate. He was an affectionate, though often absent, husband and father of four children. It is well known that Lincoln suffered from clinical depression, however he used tools of happiness to save our nation!
Annelies Marie “Anne” Frank 1929-1945 – One of the most renowned and most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Acknowledged for the quality of her writing, her diary has become one of the world’s most widely read books, and has been the basis for several plays and films. Although she went through one of the most horrific experiences in the world’s history, she still found a way to find happiness and joy in her days.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens 1835 -1910, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He was lauded as the “greatest American humorist of his age,” and William Faulkner called Twain “the father of American literature.” Twain went through a period of deep depression which began when his daughter, Susy died in 1896. It was documented that he had other losses that kept him depressed up until his death in 1910. However in 1909 he still had a sense of humor and said “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: “Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.” He died one day after the comet’s closest approach to the Earth.
You don’t even need permission!