Happiness depends on our capacity for truth

Does happiness come from changing our experience, changing the world around us, making it more agreeable to our thinking or does it come instead when experience changes us, changing directly what our thoughts are? Is it the self that is fixed and the imperative is to change experience or is experience just a tool to shape a forever shifting and perhaps even illusory self? It’s a quite insane choice to try to move the entire universe rather than a few transitory insubstantial thoughts. 

We may still hold that external circumstances are the dominant source of happiness – despite all the evidence, our observation and what we at heart know to be true. Happiness mechanically manufactured by cause and effect, from outside in, is found to be counterfeit, provisional and unreal. 

We may find that the more we plan pleasure ahead the less it appears. The future – that toy of the mind – is always a chimera, a lure to drive us onward. Some planning in daily life may be inevitable but joy is more likely if it finds us without anticipation.

As we move through life our activities in various modes may or may not bring us “success” in the view of others but the only real success is to calibrate accomplishment internally, to remember what our real work is. We may even discover as a bonus that an engagement with this inner world is often ultimately more effective in changing the outer situation too. 

It brings a direct and easy happiness – a joie de vivre indeed – that unlike the strived for happiness of achievement, of possession, of belonging or of status will not turn to ashes in our mouth.

A realization that goes against our whole philosophy of living is that our happiness depends more on a capacity not for achievement but for truth.

Understanding as art and science